The Old Town Jiufen + Yehliu Geological Park + Shiufen

This beautiful town leaves an odd mark in our Taiwan trip. 

For starters, we decided to kick off the leg of our Taiwan trip by heading straight to Jiufen from the airport. With little to no expectations, we were heading straight to an old sleepy town we know very little of. We were going to stay in Taiwan for about 9 - 10 days, and we decided to start it with Jiufen. 

Honestly, I don't know much about this place, except from pictures and was first introduced to it by Yuen. It's a hilly old gold and charcoal mining town, now mostly big on tourism thanks to its scenic routes. It is very breathtaking. Every drive, crooks and crannies will leave you breathless. 

Thanks to the many climbs, some moments, leave you breathless a little longer than it should 😅

It's an alley town. Lots of alleys to drive into and out of, and some alleys are really small. Like, suspiciously small for cars and vans.... 

I decided to stay in Jiufen for a couple of nights because I wanted to experience the old town charm of Jiufen at night, or early mornings, as well as the countryside of Taiwan in general.  

But Jiufen... there's something about this town that I can't put a finger on. It left me wandering asking more questions. 

If you hadn't gone to Street No.9 through the alley of Jiufen (the most famous alley in this town), you wouldn't figured that anyone was actually still staying in Jiufen anymore. It was dead silent and quiet almost all the time. And speaking of dead... right across our view from the sea was a cemetery, we weren't sure whether to be creep-ed out or to enjoy the peace and many times when Jessy and I would walk around the alley of our homestay, we barely see anyone. 

We got lost halfway through in the maze of all these houses on the hills and even walked up to people's houses! AND we still couldn't find anyone........... 

Our homestay though, was amazing.

Painfully located in the midst of the hills where my driver had been too stressed to drive into the small alleys, he asked the homeowner to pick us up right before an even more steep alley and profusely apologize for the inconvenience he has caused, but assured safety should be first. 

Upon being picked up by an old chap with the biggest smile, he let us go and meet with our host. Our host carried all our stuff, through the gravels and the many ups and downs of stairs. The walk was beautiful. Small houses on top of one another surrounded by beautiful flowers. 

It was so peaceful. You could only hear the gush of the wind, and the birds and no less the groaning and panting of our miserable out of breaths. 

Shit I thought. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a very very difficult climb, it was just extra tricky with all our rollers. 

Thanks to the internet, I had read somewhere that Jiufen was actually one of the main inspiration for Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. I don't know how far true this was, but we see many of the No Face dolls and caricatures around the alleys................. 

Which freaked Jessy out a little bit because she didn't know about the movie. Even after explaining it to her the fact that No Face was everywhere around the town...........

When we went out to Street 9 to get some food, I must have been possessed or something but I had gone out with a couple of taiwan dollars only to spend almost entirely on food. Jeebus, I know I like to munch but I didn't realised I was spending money like water!

We had only about an extra full day to explore Jiufen and its surroundings. So I decided on Taiwan's landscape of course and one of its oldest limestone wonder is a UNESCO Heritage Site; the Yehliu Geological Park and then right after to Shiufen, the famous small rail road town. Like literally, people do business through the train road.

Our day trip began with a cruise around the scenic Jiufen. Our driver who spoke very little English tried every ounce of his being to guide us and share with us more information on Jiufen. We're like a pair of fish and chicken trying to speak to each other.

The view though. One of the hill was called the "sleeping pregnant princess" due to its landscape resemblance.

We started the day with food. I mean. How else would you in Taiwan. These fried crepes are amazing. And our driver / guide who took the liberty to bring us to eat here among the locals are Godsend. It was a small shop, but and with little menu but made it fresh on the spot.

The Yehliu Geopark is a beautiful natural landscape of honeycomb stones and mushroom rocks caused by sea erosion. We don't rarely visit geological or natural landscapes.......... but when we do. 

Look at me trying to pose with this landscape. Like uhm, where do I put my hand? We couldn't simply touch these millions of years of age of limestones... Also, did you noticed this panorama had three of us in it? Noooo we didn't ask anyone else we did the panorama trick of course :P

I forgot our next destination, but it was a famous bridge. This required A LOT of walking so we ended up spending less than an hour there because it felt like I was beginning to punish mum and Jessy.

Sorry two, I must have killed you guys.

I hadn't plan to release any lantern up in the air at Shiufen, but our guide thought it would be a nice experience. So I agreed and convinced Jessy as well.

I completely fcked up my other side of the lantern with terrible spelling and possibly misinterpretation in Chinese, but I think God heard me, because I meant well.. hehe.

I look disastrous from a whole day of out in the sun.

Look, Shiufen is also beautiful!!

One of the best Xiao Long Bao I've had in my life was in Shiufen. The shop was run by very old people, probably in their 80s but the look and feel shop of the shop was quite new. Reckon, that their kids had renovated it for them. 

By the time we were done, we were so beat. 

But the walk around Shiufen was truly lovely. Shiufen was a really charming old Chinese town noised by trains passing through right in the middle of it all every now and then 😍

Climbing up the stairs of Jiufen almost killed me too, but Jiufen at night lit up so beautifully reminded me of steep alleys cities and towns like Istanbul, Rome and Paris. I miss you cities. 

There were many strange encounters while staying in Jiufen... almost supernatural like. In one of those nights, at around 9pm, Jessy and I heard someone walking towards our home door and that "person" led out a heavy breathing so close to our door, we misplaced a few items knowing that we were very sure they were there, there were too many empty houses in the hills, and we saw a few things that we swore to God were stranger than usual. 

Till next time. Street No 9 of Jiufen coming up. 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.


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