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Thursday, January 12, 2012

JiuFen (九份)

After leaving YehLiu Geopark, the driver drove us to our 2nd destination, called Jiufen (九份). We planned to spend a long afternoon time in that town.

The area also provides spectacular views of the harbor and the Pacific Ocean below.

Our driver parked her taxi at the foothill. She said we should walk into the town via the oldest street in Jiufen instead. OK, from here we start....

Jiufen is a mountain area near Keelung. During the first years of the Qing Dynasty, the village here housed 9 families only, thus the village would request "nine portions" every time shipments arrived from town. Later, Jiufen ("nine portions" in Chinese) had become the name of the village.

Jiufen was a sleeping fishing village until the early 1900's when gold was discovered in its hills. It reached its peak of mining activity during the Japanese occupation around the time of World War II, and actually had captured allied soldiers to work in the mines.

Gold mining activities declined after World War II, and the mines was shut down in 1971. Jiufen quickly went into decline, and for a while, the town was mostly forgotten as a ghost town.

Jiufen received a new wave of attention after a few popular movies were filmed here in the early 1990's, particularly after the release of A City of Sadness [悲情城市]. The nostalgic scenery of Jiufen as seen in the film, as well as appearances in other media, had charmed many people into visiting this town.

For the beginning of the 90s, Jiufen experienced a tourist boom that has shaped the town as a tourist attraction. The tea houses were then restored and tourism has reinvigorated the local economy with hundreds of tourist shops, handicrafts, and artist's studios.

At present, Jiufen is a renowned tourist attraction representative of Taiwan. Besides the foreigner, the place also draws many tourists from Taipei during the weekends.

The town of Jiufen is built into the side of the hills slightly inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline.

All of the houses along this street are very old, except this one. From the appearance of the house, I guess the owner must be the richest man in this town.

Apartments that built on steep hills are very common in Jiufen.

A Cat Club, perhaps?

A remembrance as being a famous gold town once before...

There wasn't many people walking on the streets, occasionally we did see a few tourists passing by us.

The time was not early, but some shops still in asleep...

A few shops did open, but they are not fascinated one.

For a brief moment, I wondered why we were here for?

After we bent a corner, the scene starts to look differently....

From here, I wasn't awared this is one of the many tea houses in town.

Yeap, it's Jiufen.

My mood was elevated when we reached here...Instantly, I felt its charm, and I like it.

Influenced by the Japanese, many tea houses and inns sprang up and flourished in town until the closure of gold mines in the early 70's.

I insisted we should take a group photo in this special place. Also, I wanted to stop the nonchalant cycle of the parents for a brief second.

Waved husband to join us in the photo as well.

The main area of interest to visitors are the town's historic commercial district which is covered by two pedestrian street.

Tea houses had dominated this hill street.

And this Ah Mei Tea House is the most prominent one amongst the all.

It's such a nice place to sip a cup of tea...

Anyway, we didn't interrupted the driver cum our tour guide, let her continue to bring us to the restaurant which she had highly recommended us for lunch. Well, here we are.

We were leaded to a table at the balcony side. The view & the chill air is spectacular.

Too bad it was peak hour, and the restaurant only served several set menu. So we thought might as well just order 3 sets for sharing, then we could eat whatever that interest us when we walked into the town later on.

But the waitress had given me some hard time when I placed the order, said we should have ordered each of us 1 set instead. The bitchy side of me just refused to do so for the reason (1) most of the foods on the menu that we wanted to order are not available (2) I hate to be forced when it comes in buying, ok.

Seeing me not given in, the waitress had to give in instead. Ha..

Luckily, the foods came quite good. That had soothed my emotion, and we have some relaxing time taking a long lunch at the restaurant since then.

After we paid the bill, we continue the walk into town. Ah Mei Tea House which is just opposite our restaurant is so eye-catchy.

Since the others had walked up so fast, I have no time to find out if they serve any hot dish besides tea?

Also, it's not the right time to stop here for a tea break either.

Another tea house that had captured my attention.

Despite the others had walked quite a distance away, me & the boys decided to walk in the tunnel for a quick adventure. Apparently, the tea house is hidden deep inside the other end of the tunnel. So cool...

The Historic Commercial District of Jiufen consists of a series of stores and restaurants running along Jishan and Shuchi Streets, which are built into the side of the coastal hills and considered a must-see site for visitors.

The area is known for its collection of historic businesses, eateries, and teahouses, allowing visitors to relive the past while sampling local specialties and purchasing handicrafts and other knick-knacks.

Ohh...looking at the name of the tea house, had given me a thousand kind of imaginations, just like dreams in life.

The deco in that tea house is very interesting, how could they be so nonchalantly seeing this?

Look at all of these pledges they had given for their foods, no preservative, no additives...Seriously, is that true?

Anyway, these foods are simply not our cup of tea lah...

I was totally fascinated by the tea house. Gosh, really have the urge to go inside there to enjoy a long tea break. But wait, where is the gang?

One of the souvenir shops...

Another tea shop..

So cool...living here can slow down my life for at least 10X.

Due to shower rain, we didn't make a detour to that direction.

So, we just continued to walk straight from one end to the other.

There are numerous things to eat in Jiufen, for example, fishball soup, yuyuan (taro balls), dumplings served hot or cold with sweet bean, and mochi are all widely available.
The sheer number of restaurants can be a little overwhelming though.

The "manufacturing plant" is set up in the shop as well. It's fun to stand there to watch them making their product on the site. Too bad my gang didn't seem very interested in it either.

Grandma Lai's Yuyuan (賴阿婆芋圓) at No.143, Jishan Street, is the most famous one for its taro balls. Yeap, that's the one.

That's the taro balls from Grandma Lai's, the taste & texture are both good. I like it.

All sorts of fish balls are very famous too.

The street have so many shops vending the most famous country snack of Jiufen, so many historical items are well reserved too. Such an interesting place.

After trying a few local snacks, my tummy was all full...

Yet, when I saw this, I couldn't resist to buy one. It taste very good too.

If I have more space in my stomach, I would have eat this...

and this too...

Ah...we have a similar glass apple tree at home too, just that our apples are red.

Kid of old street.

Ok, that seems to be the end of old street.

Apparently, we exited from the most popular entrance, located near the bus station.

I did enjoy some great time wandering around Jiufen old streets. I'm sure will miss its charm, and will certainly recommend it to whoever that want to go Taiwan.


Gargles said...

yes, i love jiufen and its charms as well. every corner is mesmerizing. it's definitely one of my favorite sightseeing hotspots in taipei.

jessylee said...

Yeah, me too. Will want to visit that place and probe it in more depth if we have chance to go Taiwan next time.

Carmen Cheah said...

Hi, may i know how much time you spent in Jiufen? From your pictures, some shops were not opened. Was it because it was too early?

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