Sunday, 29 December 2013

Day 9 - Jiufen, Shifen

Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park 

The gold ecological park near Jiufen is free, as such, expect to see many tourists. 

It is quite a pleasant stroll around the park despite the rain. The main attraction in this park is a giant gold bar weighing 220kg!

If you have been following the price of gold, it has fallen from a high of $1,700 to a low of $1,200 per 100oz in the last 12 months. 

The gold "bar" in this park is worth 220kg x 38,738 = USD8.5m. Hmmm don't seem to see many security guards around though. 

We paid for the optional tour into the deep tunnel used to mine for gold. 

It's a good place to hide from the rain though. 

"Miners" are strategically placed to educate visitors about the past history. The Japanese used to mine the gold from here. 

Anyway, I think it is worth a detour from
Jiufen to visit here. 

Jiufen 九份

It is said that this is a old mining town and got its name from a group of 9 families who always asked for 9 portions of everything. 

I think it should look good except that you can't get the feel of old town unless you wait till night time after all the tourists have left. 

This place is just too crowded for me as hordes of tourists from all over the world make this little town a "must visit" stop as a day trip from Taipei. 

It is enjoyable if you can stroll down the alley but there are just too many people. 

However if you want to hide from the crowd, you can try visiting the tea houses.  There are many tea houses here but be prepared to pay for the tea in order to enjoy the  peace.

The pot of tea with 2 pineapple snacks cost me more than NT$1,000. Ouch. 

Alternatively, you can try the local snacks. The round prawn crackers is good (too delicious and forget to take a picture). 

We tried the onion cake and the fish ball soup. Not bad actually. 

There are many different types of fish balls. 

Shifen 十分

This is the place to release sky lanterns. 天灯. Its quite fun to do this on a real railway track. Trains will be passing through once or twice per hour. 

There are shops to wander around and watch out for the moving trains !

Osteria by Angie

We had enough of Chinese food and tried the Italian tonight. Run by Italian. (You can check out the website) if you intend to visit. 

The food is decent and ambience good. Be sure to reserve as it was quite packed when we were there. 

Radium Kagaya Beitou

We stayed for 3 nights here and we came basically for the onsen baths and tatami beds. The water in Beitou is average although it has a huge bath area.

They served the same buffet breakfast 3 mornings in a row and I was appalled as there wasn't much variety to begin with. 

You wouldn't need to stay here unless you want some "Japanese" onsen experience. 

Beitou Hot Springs

Opposite our hotel is the hot spring park where you can make use of the public baths for a very low price in swim suits. 

It is actually a nice park and you can see steam from the flowing river. The hot springs was first discovered by a Japanese during the occupation. 

Further up the park is the 地热谷. This is where the hot spring flows up from the earth freely. 

This are within walking distance from the hotel and you can do this during a morning stroll. You can walk to this place from the subway as well. 

Happy hot springing. 

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