Day 5 / 22-Sept-2015 : Travel from Alishan to Jiufen via Taipei
Today we are leaving Alishan with a slight heavy heart, like I said earlier, we initially plan yo stay for 5D/4N but changed last minute to 4D/3N. The last 4 days in Alishan (particularly at Lauya Homestay) was one of our (if not the) most relaxing holiday/vacation we ever had. But anyways, we might just go back again soon 😉 We are going next to another interesting place so we are a bit excited about this next part of our trip.
Instead of staying 4 nights in Taipei, we decided to stay 2 nights in Jiufen to be able to appreciate this place better rather than taking a “day trip” from Taipei (a common “practice” by most tourist).
Our Day 5 breakfast, dumplings and pao from our homestay and our 711 stuffs. After breakfast, we took a van (help arranged by “Lǎo bǎn niáng”) to Chiayi HSR Station.
We bought our Chiayi-Taipei HSR Train ticket over the counter.
Our HSR Train arriving Chiayi Station 2 minutes ahead of departure time.
Bye bye Chiayi, we’re sure see you again in the future.
We arrive Taipei at 12 noon and checked the next train for Ruifang , we bought a ticket for 1:10pm departure time.
With an hour to spare, we decided to buy and try this bento lunch sold inside the train station. The one with the clear plastic cover is pork chop with rice and different veggies, taste is not bad. The one inside the paper box is also pork but I find the batter coating a bit thick that it overpowered the pork.
After a quick lunch, we headed to our assigned platform.
Our train to Ruifang
The interior of the train is very spacious and comfortable, comparable to HSR trains.
After 29 minutes, we arrived at Ruifang Station, from here you can either take a cab or bus to Jiufen
Our train stopped in the middle platform so we have to go down the underpass to get to the main exit.
The underpass is well lighted and proper signage was available.
Despite the signage in the underpass, we exited on the wrong side of the train station and ended up in this street (the bus station was on the other side/train exit) after walking around and made sure that the bus station is not on this side of the station, we decided to take a cab to Jiufen instead. The fare is 200 NTD from Ruifang Station to Jiufen.
Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. During World War II, the town housed a Japanese prisoner of war camp where captured Allied Force soldiers (mainly British) were forced to work in the gold mines. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture.
After a 15 minute cab, we arrived outside our homestay for the next two nights. (For our review on Hui Ming Homestay, please click HERE)
After putting our things inside our room, we started exploring the area.
The whole town is on a mountain so expect a lot of up and down stairs along the way.
The most popular street in this place is the Jiufen Old Street, with lots of foods and souvenirs to choose from.
Some of food variety that you will find in the “old street”
A long time ago, there were only nine families living in the area. Because there were no roads serving it, goods could only be delivered by ship. Due to the inefficiency of transportation to the region, the families used to reserve nine portions of household goods to be delivered at one time. Thus, the name Jiufen, “Nine Portions”, stuck and has been the name of the town ever since
It looks like Baguio, a mountainous city north of Manila, in the Philippines.
One of THE most popular spot here in Jiufen is A Mei Tea House, located on Shuqi Road. Its strong Japanese architectural style makes it very eye-catching. It has become more popular with the movie “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki , because apparently, many claimed that this tea house looks like Yubaba’s tea house in the movie.
After further walking, we decided to find a spot and have something to eat while just simply watching the sun setting.
Jiufen is also a film mecca for lovers of Taiwanese film, especially fans of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “A City of Sadness” (悲情城市), which utilized Jiufen as the backdrop to the events of the 228 Incident. Given Hou’s recent award of Best Director in the 2015 International Cannes Film Festival for his new film “The Assassin”, we expect even more people will make their way here in years to come.
The sun finally setting on this side of Taiwan.
On the way back to our homestay, we passed by the stair leading to Amei Teahouse and saw this super big crowd, that shows how popular this spot here in Jiufen.
After a very long day, we finally settled. Good night from Jiufen! Tomorrow we will visit Shifen and Pingxi.