spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

Taiwan – Jiufen’s 九份 Golden Nostalgia

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Taiwan - Jiufen

Located in Ruifang District of New Taipei City, Jiufen (Chiufen) used to be the center of gold mining activity in Taiwan. Today, the mountainous scenic village overlooking Keelung’s outer sea is a must-see attraction for visitors to Taiwan.
Travel in a Day by car: Yehliu 野柳 > Jiufen 九份 > Jinguashi 金瓜石 > Shifen 十分

Taiwan - Jiufen

The name “Jiufen” means nine portions in Mandarin. According to references from Taipei County Government, the name came about during the Ching Dynasty when there were only nine families living in the village. Due to the lack of resources, whenever one of the nine families went grocery shopping or purchased goods from freighters, they would purchase nine portions.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Jiufen became a prosperous gold mining town in 1893 when gold was found in the area, attracting large numbers of gold miners and earning the name “Gold City of Asia”, “Little Shanghai” and “Little Hong Kong”. The gold fever officially ended in 1971, bringing the whole village into sharp decline. Fortunately, its quaint streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean saved the village from becoming yet another a mining ghost town.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Jiufen is now a popular tourist destination for visitors eager to relive scenes from the past. It has preserved most of its old architecture and maintained the unique atmosphere of a mountain city, attracting several internationally-acclaimed movies to shoot here such as Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness which won the Golden Lion award at the 1989 Venice Film Festival. While Jiufen brims with visitors eager to re-visit its golden past, it still maintains a tranquil atmosphere excellent for sightseeing, and not to mention authentic local snacks which we wolfed down and carted home by the boxes.

Taiwan - Jiufen

There are many unique teahouses located along Shuqi Street. Scenes from “Spirited Away” written and directed by Japanese animation master Miyazaki Hayao were referenced from Jiufen Old Street. It is said that Miyazaki’s source of inspiration particularly came from Ah Mei’s Tea House. Many Japanese tourists thus come to Jiufen in search of the scenes in the animation and a mask that resembles “Yubaba” the bathhouse witch.

Taiwan - Jiufen

As we made our way up to the mountain towards the main streets, we were greeted by little houses with very interesting artwork on its walls.

Taiwan - Jiufen

There were many photo vantage points for visitors. Also do look out for the gold-coloured signages who tell you more about its residents who may be a famous artist or personality.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Even the mailbox was nicely decorated

Taiwan - Jiufen

How much is that kitty on the window?

Taiwan - Jiufen

A very innovative homemade flower pot

Taiwan - Jiufen

We bumped into Robert Yu, a Taiwanese artist who specialises in miniature carvings

Taiwan - Jiufen

Robert has carved intricate designs on many small surfaces, in particular thin pencil leads. I admire his eyesight and patience.

Taiwan - Jiufen

The ladies were held captive at this shop selling aboriginal products along the hillside. The owner Annie was a really friendly lady, and we ended up spending almost an hour at the store – we had not even made it to the main streets yet!

Taiwan - Jiufen

Ah Mei-Mei!
How do I look? I bought the tamer-looking headband on my hand, and looking forward to wearing it to an appropriate event :)

Taiwan - Jiufen

Going aboriginal in Jiufen – where’s the boar??

Taiwan - Jiufen

Aboriginal rice wine with cute packaging
I got the strongest one with 40% alcohol content for Darren, but he hasn’t said anything about its taste. Either it has not been opened, or it was so strong that he forgot everything after drinking. I suspect it was the latter.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Shuqi Street 豎崎路
The main area of interest to visitors are the town’s historic commercial district comprising two pedestrian streets: Jishan Street 基山街 (which runs along the ridge line), and Shuqi Street 豎崎路 (which runs along the slope of the hill).
Rows of teahouses, bed and breakfast houses and art shops line both sides of the stairs along Shuqi Street.
Jiufen Old Street on the other hand, offers abundant local snacks which include sweet taro ball dessert, rice cakes with Chinese herbs, red vinasse Taiwanese meatballs and more.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Walking around Jiufen gave me a very nostalgic feel, as if I went back in time
Stepping into Jiufen’s most bustling Jishan Street, you’ll find a diverse array of handicraft, old-style grocery stores as well as interesting local snacks.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Beautifully painted ocarinas

Taiwan - Jiufen

Even the grasshopper came to shop for essential oils

Taiwan - Jiufen

We saw some very interesting health clogs – this particular pair is supposed to help you stretch your calves, although I wondered how many steps one could actually take in those.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Diet Clogs
I was super tempted to get these

Taiwan - Jiufen

I was super happy to find a Lavender Cottage retail shop here! I love their products.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Colorful bath salts
Buy, buy, buy!

Taiwan - Jiufen

The child in me got me blowing lavender bubbles

Taiwan - Jiufen

And made a new furry friend named Ah Jiu

Taiwan - Jiufen

Carine and I buying mini sky lanterns with written well-wishes as presents

Taiwan - Jiufen

Of all the attention-grabbing marketing tactics I have seen, you win hands down, aunty. Admire your guts!

Taiwan - Jiufen

These codfish snacks came highly recommended, and we carted them back in every flavour by the boxes. Super addictive when you eat it in front of the television.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Crispy barbequed pork
An interesting twist to the traditional barbequed pork, these crispy sheets tasted pretty good. Samples were aplenty, so we were rather well-fed by the time we finished shopping. We bought all the sakura shrimp flavour as that was our favourite. I liked the red wine flavour too.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Wild boar sausage

Taiwan - Jiufen

Burning Snow
This impressive-sounding snack is a crepe comprising of grounded peanuts, malt sugar, ice cream and celery leaves.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Aromatic tea leaf eggs

Taiwan - Jiufen

Handmade fish balls
I wished I had four stomachs so I could eat more

Taiwan - Jiufen

Smelly tofu – my fave!

Taiwan - Jiufen

One of the must-eats in Jiufen would be Grandma Lai’s Yuyuan 賴阿婆芋圆 (No.143, Jishan Street) – the ancestor of all the taro ball stalls which have sprouted up in the area.

Taiwan - Jiufen

In the early days, Grandma Lai made a living out of raising pigs before making chewy taro balls that has become the most famous local snacks of Jiufen, that even the Taiwanese drive from all over for takeaways. The stall’s taro balls use freshly-picked taros that are finely pureed, thus maintaining the natural sweetness of the taro. Have it cold or hot in various sweet soups.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Sink your teeth into this chewy dessert

Taiwan - Jiufen

City Of Sadness Restaurant (悲情城市小上海茶楼)
We had lunch at this restaurant which was featured in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s film A City of Sadness.
35 Shuchi Road, Tel:+886 2 2406-2289

Taiwan - Jiufen

Very retro setting

Taiwan - Jiufen

Betel nut flower cold dish
It tasted like bamboo shoots, with a slightly sticky aftertaste

Taiwan - Jiufen

Fried wild boar meat
This was my first time eating wild boar, and it tasted really tough. Not exactly my palate.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Three cup chicken (三杯鸡)
A popular Taiwanese dish of chicken simmered in sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese wine that cannot go wrong.

Taiwan - Jiufen

Local wild vegetable called 龙须菜
This was yummy!

Taiwan - Jiufen

Mapo tofu

Taiwan - Jiufen

This was sinfully good – it’s pork lard oil dribbled onto white rice to give it a nice aroma and smooth taste. But I sure won’t be having this too often!

Taiwan - Jiufen

After lunch, it was time to bade farewell to Jiufen and proceed to our next location Jinguashi and Shifen to release sky lanterns!

More on Taiwan:
Taiwan – Blooming Delights and Cultural Richness in Daxi 大溪
Taiwan – Nature’s Wonders at Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園
Taiwan – Urban Respite at Beitou Hot Springs 新北投溫泉
Taiwan – Tamsui 淡水:Of Romantic Sunsets & Tantalizing Snacks
Taiwan – Jingguashi 金瓜石:Goldmine of Yesteryear
Taiwan – SHIFEN十分放天灯: Sending Wishes to the Sky
Taiwan – Sun Moon Lake 日月潭: Picturesque Nature

Explore Taiwan with Spunktitud3!

Jiufen Old Street
Address: Jiufenjishan Street, Ruifang Town, Taipei County
Tel: 886 2 29603456

Getting to Jiufen

By Train
1. Take the train bound for Ruifang from Taipei Railway Station (linked to Taipei Main Station on the MRT). The ride takes about 50 minutes.
2. Exit Ruifang Station, walk towards Ruifang Old Street and look for the “Welcome” sign across the street for buses bound for Jiufen. Cost: NT$15 and takes about 15 minutes to reach Jiufen.

By Bus
From Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT, take MRT Exit #1 and head towards SOGO mall on your right. The elevated railway line will be in front of you. Walk a minute and take the first left. After a few meters you will see the 1062 bus stop.
Cost: NT$102 (have the exact change or an easycard.) The journey takes a little more than 1 hour. Sit on the left hand side as there are great views of the valleys as it ascends Jiufen.

Driver
If you are looking to hire a driver, you can consider Mr Liu 刘先生. He’s a burly uncle who used to be a truck driver, and very honest. He charged us a very reasonable per day rate, brought us to all the places where the locals went, and none of those touristy crap. And we felt safe with him. You can give him a try if you wish. Mr Liu’s Mobile: (0)988-121-529.

Another contact you can try is Lucky Zhao +886 913 185 157, slightly pricier but good service and speaks well.

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Author: spunktitud3

A little post by a fun-loving spunky gal in love with the quirky, the artsy and anything which inspires new creations. Read about her adventures on: spunktitud3.wordpress.com

7 thoughts on “Taiwan – Jiufen’s 九份 Golden Nostalgia

  1. Great post and interesting read. We did that railway line too, but did not choose this stop. Would have been a cool stop though, as I can see from your post. Love that extravagant headband!

  2. Open, inviting, imaginative, clever, creative, beautiful, clear, witty, detailed, generous, meticulous, informative, fun, lovely, big hearted…

    This is what comes to mind when I read your pages after pages of blog on Taiwan! I chanced upon your blog but never expect to receive so much from you but it is so well presented and i just have to tell you! :)

    Thanks for the effort to share the information so clearly! I am going Taiwan this November and with what you have put up, I know where to go and not to with kids!

    Am really appreciative of generous souls like you who cares to share so freely! Keep on writing please! :)

    • Glurp, you’re gonna make me cry :) Thanks so much for your kind words, I received your message on the eve of my birthday so that makes it even more special! I am glad you found my articles to be useful, and because I have kind readers like you, I will definitely keep on writing :) Thanks once again, and happy holidays!

    • me think so too! very helpful for my coming trip to Taipei. Thanks for sharing so muchhh

  3. Thank you for the infos! Mr liu is indeed a nice man!

    • Hi Ashley! mind telling me roughly what is the price for the cab? I’m going this april and is thinking of cabbing to places of quite a distance so as to save time for other places.

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