Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day Tripping: Jiufen

The view from Jiufen

Now that the weather has turned nice again, we are back on our schedule of Monday day trips.  Yesterday, we drove about an hour northeast of Taoyuan to a place called Jiufen 九份.  Jiufen is a historic mining town built in the mountains overlooking the northeastern coast of Taiwan.

If you’re driving from Taoyuan City, take National Highway 1 through Taipei, exit at the Badu interchange to Highway 62.  Follow Highway 62 to the Coastal Highway (Prov. Highway 2D) then exit to Highway 102.  Follow that into the mountains and you will find Jiufen. 

There are a number of things worth seeing there.  Jiufen has a beautiful view of the Northeastern Coast:  Beautiful bays, huge rocks and the Pacific Ocean.  There are a number of tea shops that overlook the the ocean and you can sit and drink tea and enjoy the view.  But the biggest attraction is the Jiufen Old Street area.

The entrance to Jiufen Old Streets
It’s similar to many of Taiwan’s historic "Old Street" areas.  But Jiufen is built right into the side of the hill.  Tourists from all over the world come to Jiufen when visiting Taiwan.  My daughter and I sat in one spot for a while and guessed where people were from.  We saw Norwegians, Germans, Americans and many people from Mainland China.  If you’re a homesick foreigner, like my children, this is a good place to come to find your countrymen.

If you visit Yingge, the old street area centers around ceramics.  There there are a lot of stores that’s sell only ceramics, but Jiufen is different, here the vendors are much more eclectic.  We saw a number of shoe shops, food vendors, teashops, traditional clothing stores, and of course souveneir shops.  (What tourist spot doesn’t sell souvenirs to tourists?) Just about everything was for sale here.

Grilled Sea Snails
I, of course was interested in food.  I’m always interested in food.  We found a number of vendors selling the local snacks.  Things like Squid on a Stick, some kind of sea snail, and sausages.  I will eat just about anything, but for the less adventurous, they had other Taiwanese snacks that were a little more common.

We took the wheelchair and found it pretty tough going.  The area is steep and paved with old rough-hewn stones.  We parked at the top of the area near the park and had to go down the hill, which was a bit scary.  If the wheelchair got away it would have been disastrous.  Going up the hill on the way back was very difficult for the one pushing.  So if you’re disabled it may take a bit of planning.  But it was a fun and interesting trip.  We have already discussed a return trip when family comes to visit in the fall. 

Temple rooftops in Jiufen.

Jiufen is built right into the side of the mountain.

Squid on a Stick

Lots of tourists visit Jiufen

Tombs built into the Hillside

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