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Wandering up and down Jiufen

Posted on: January 30, 2017

*Wow, it took me two months before I can write here again about my Taiwan trip. Goes to show how life gets in the way of my blogging. Hahaha!

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This teahouse is basically the reason why I went to Jiufen. It was said to have inspired Yubaba’s bath house in Spirited Away.

Before that…

Before booking my accommodation and my plane tickets to Taiwan, I tried studying how I can get to Jiufen. Thanks to fans and travel blogs, I somehow I had a vague idea how to get there.

After my dinner with my colleague at Taipei 101, my stomach started to tighten as panic rose to my throat. What if I got it all wrong?! I was a lone female traveler who could not speak Mandarin in a country where English is not widely spoken. After arriving at the hotel, I asked the receptionist how to get to Ruifang station the next day. Thank you, Diary of Taipei – Main Station. You are so tourist-friendly. Not only they give you a tourist map and the Taipei rail system map, they can also give you the schedules of buses and trains departing from the Main Station.

I didn’t have any idea where Jiufen was. All I knew was it was east of Taipei (since it is already near the Pacific Ocean).

Was a bit late arriving at the Taipei Main Station so I wasn’t able to catch the 9:45 train. Another train was arriving in less than an hour. So I bought a sandwich and bottled milk tea from one of the kiosks there, ate my pathetic breakfast on a bench at the platform and waited. Since this happened three months ago, I cannot exactly remember how much I paid for the train fare. It was probably TWD 45 for a one-hour trip.

I did not take a photo of the platform nor the Ruifang station. Too bad.

Anyway, I booked an overnight stay at  Jiufen Long Men Ke Zhan Bed and Breakfast, as recommended. Good thing I followed the recommendation and did not try to do an Amazing-Race-type of trip to Jiufen because there are so many things to taste, see and feel in Jiufen and Jinguashi. My inn arranged for me to be picked up by some kind of taxi service so I wouldn’t lose my way (love, love love them for doing this).

The roads are narrow and winding. Much to my surprise, this is a left-hand driving nation. I could drive in Taiwan. *grin*

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I shared the cab with two guys who were chatting with our driver in Mandarin. They were Malaysians who worked in Singapore and they thought I was Thai. Anyway, they acted as my translator in the next two hours because 1) our innkeeper did not speak English  and 2) they saw the lost look on my face.

I love my inn (despite my bed being hard and I had a backache) because it was affordable and the location was perfect. This is what I saw from the balcony:

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So my “housemates” (their room is across from mine) and I searched for somewhere to have late lunch but it took us some time to settle down in some tea house overlooking the village.

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This is the Old Street, where the stairs seemed to be never-ending. Reminded me of Banaue. The entire village reminded me of being in Mountain Province, with handicraft stores and the altitude.

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My housemates and I parted at the tea house and I got to explore the village on my own.

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And the beauty of exploring new places is getting lost and finding your way back. But I hated the part where I got chased by a huge black dog and I screamed my way out of this narrow path.

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Found myself back at the Old Street and somehow wound up at the entrance of A Mei Tea House.

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This is what I appreciate about traveling solo: I can be aimless and I can decide on a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Gold Mine Museum. I abandoned the idea of staying the entire afternoon along Old Street. But first I had to find my way to the bus station, which was down below, at the end of Old Street. Before finding the bus station, I found this cute store selling cat items. They really love cats here, I don’t know why.

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A few steps from this store is the Jiufen Tourist Centre and the Police Station. I inquired about how to get to the Gold Mine Museum from the nice old lady behind the counter who said it was only a 15-minute bus ride from where we were.

I took the bus and since the bus driver and I had communication problems, I mistakenly dropped a TWD 50 coin instead of paying TWD 15 for my fare. Lucky driver.

And the drive was a bit stressful for me because I imagined myself driving a bus in the very narrow and winding road to Jinguashi.

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Actually the drive would have been shorter if not for the traffic jam because the road was impossibly narrow. There were several instances when the bus had to stick dangerously close to the cliff sides to let the other bus on the opposite lane pass.

*To be continued

 

 

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life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
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