Trip To Taipei (December 2015) – Jiufen & Jinguashi

After Shifen, we took the train back to Ruifang where we would take a bus up to Jiufen. It seemed simple enough from my web search which had mentioned a bus stop across the street after exiting Ruifang station but we must have gone in the wrong direction as we could not find it. We asked some passersby and was told to walk further ahead for the bus stop located outside a school.  After a frustrating search and still unable to find the stop, we retraced our steps and guessed that a sign along the roadside should be the stop. Fortunately we finally managed to board the bus which was heading in the right direction.
Though it was still early evening, it seemed as if night had fallen as the days are shorter in winter. On arrival at Jiufen, we tried to locate the Windsor BnB we had booked. According to the area map from the BnB, we should go down a flight of steps near to the 7-eleven store and then take the road to the left. But after reaching the bottom of the steps and walking a short distance, we were confused by a junction where the road forked out in separate directions. It did not look like that in the map or are we so bad with map reading? Should we walk ahead or go the other way? Unsure again as to whether we had chosen the correct road, we asked for directions from a shop and was told that we should have taken the other road. Fortunately we had not walked too far and after retracing our steps, we walked in what should be the correct direction. Where is that elusive BnB which was still nowhere in sight after having walked quite a distance? After checking with another passerby, we were glad to be told that it was just ahead …. finally.
The BnB was a delightful unit below street level with a nice view from its balcony which overlooks the mountain road and part of the sea on its left. There was a cosy little room above the balcony furnished with cushions from where one could enjoy the view from its large glass window. I was hoping that we could watch the sunrise from up here but unfortunately the BnB was not located on the correct side. 
The stalls in the old shopping street usually start closing from 6pm so most of them were shut by the time we had checked in at the BnB. Anyway we needed dinner and wanted to explore the shopping street since some stalls were still opened. With the temperature hovering around 15 degrees C, it was cold. Most days during our trip had overcast skies and slight drizzles.
For those who plan to stay overnight in Jiufen, it would be better to leave the bulk of your luggage in lockers at the train stations or with the hotel you’ll be staying in next, and just bring what you need in a backpack. We left our luggage at Cityinn Plus since we would be checking in with them again after our visit to Jiufen.
jiufen 1Night view of the surrounding area from the top of Jiufen.
Early morning view from the room above the balcony, with part of the sea on the left and the mountain road on the right (pic below).

windsor bnb 9

View from the balcony
Cafe beside our BnB
Another view of the sea from Jiufen
Jiufen old street crowded with visitors even on a week day

A restaurant with an interesting vintage window display. Photo taken the previous night after our BnB check-in.

A popular snack of ice cream with sweet peanut shavings wrapped in a popiah-type skin.
Beginning of Jiufen old street next to the 7-eleven store.
The narrow road is 2-way, going uphill to Jinguashi in this photo. I’m amazed at the driving skills of the bus drivers who can easily maneuver around the bends, with other vehicles passing close by in the opposite lane. With hardly any footpath at some stretches, pedestrians need to be careful when walking along the roadside. The stop for the bus that goes back down to Ruifang or Keelung is a bit further uphill, on the left side of this road.
After we had our fill of exploring the old street of Jiufen, we took a bus up to Jinguashi. The stop is some distance downhill after the bend at the bottom left of this photo and on the same side as the 7-eleven store.
The Gold Mining Museum is further ahead. The old train tracks and wagon as seen in the center.

The mine tunnel with reddish brown wall. We did not visit the tunnel but tried the gold panning activity where participants were shown how to wash away the coarse sand and retain the fine layer with some gold specks which were then poured into a mini bottle for them to take home. We were taught how to check for the gold specks by shining our phone torchlight at the bottom of the bottle. 
With the cold weather and strong winds, our hands were freezing during the panning activity as we immersed and swirled the shallow dish with sand inside a trough of icy water a few times. I thought I would get frost bite as my fingers felt numb from the stinging cold water.

Air compressors that supply ventilation into the mine.

Model of mining activities, inside the gold museum

jinguashi 9Gold jewellery in the form of crabs, in the gold museum
jinguashi 8
A gold brick weighing 220 kg in a glass display case which visitors are allowed to touch through the openings on both sides of the case. A digital panel displays the current market value of the gold brick in NTD.
My original plan was to visit Yehliu after Jiufen but decided to forgo it so as to have ample time to enjoy each place without having to rush around. We shall visit Keelung market instead. 
keelung 1Keelung night market is more about food than shopping. As shown in the photo below, food stalls line both sides of the street and food is served to customers seated on benches around the stalls. 

keelung 2

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