This week, we cover our adventure into the land of Taiwan! Continuing our from our previous entry, days 3 and 4 will be detailed below, covering our trips to tourist spots like 九份 (Jiufen), 十份 (Shifen) and 淡水 (Danshui)!
Day 3: Experiencing the Full Spectrum of the Weather
Our day started with a downpour from the heavens, but thank goodness that only last a while. Having experienced a horrid storm the night before (at Raohe Night Market), we were praying for the skies to be kind on us; thankfully they did stop after a while! By then, we were at Taipei 101, planning the day’s itinerary and hoping to maximise the third day of our trip.
Still gotta work, even in the rain…
Photos taken from the first floor never seem to do any tall building justice, and likewise this does not sufficiently capture the magnificence of the 101 floors that the Taipei 101 houses!
A special 4-frame #ootd of the trip-mates (bar Sandra)!
After waiting for the rain to end, we ended up exploring the nearby shopping centres (including the Taipei International Convention Centre and the ATT4fun shopping mall). Quite often tourists are tempted to explore the famous and well known ‘tourist spots’, but even walking around these frequented local settings was eye-opening.
Presenting our lunch… brunch! The amazing array of dishes was consumed at The Diner (located at the ATT4fun Mall), with very cafe-like prices, catching us off guard as we were used to the lower-priced street snacks thus far!
The ATT4fun mall had different themed floors, such as this one, with Alice-In-Wonderland type statuettes adorning the restaurant exterior.
Loads of sheep… awkward…
Of course, we couldn’t resist getting into a photobooth to commemorate our visit to Taipei! Needless to say, the booth was awfully small
Our next stop was the Huashan Creative Park 1914, a former winery turned arts gallery, whereby local artists can showcase their creative talents! There were a mingling of locals and tourists (many armed with cameras like us!) and we explored the various features of the Park, including shops, art galleries, and the famous Upside Down House!
The rain fell as soon as we reached, which was a relief with all the shelter.
The wall, which soon became a popular #ootd background
Tadah! The Upside Down House, as seen here, illustrates the topsy-turvy nature of life… or is a quick cash-grab scheme for clueless tourists (we did not go in).
Our final stop of the day was Danshui, a town located at the northern part of Taipei (where the train would actually go eh heh). It is close to the mouth of the Danshui River, out towards the East China Sea. It has a smaller night market (in comparison to the ones we had gone to so far, including Shilin and Raohe), but boasts an unforgettable view at the Fisherman’s Wharf!
Danshui is about 30 minutes away from the city center, and when we reached, the rain had stopped and the skies were opening up. Here, a large open space allowed visitors to lull by the riverside, enjoying the cool breeze as the day wound down.
We were hoping to capture the sunset at the Fisherman’s Wharf, which was 20 minutes away from the pier…
Catching the bright yellow sun moving down the horizon was particularly difficult, as loads of tourists had the same idea in mind… hence the crowded boat
Lover’s Bridge, as it is commonly called, boasts the best location to capture the panoramic view of the sunset.
The colours tho…
The men posing…
And so did the ladies!
Hungry, we grabbed the usual da ji pa (friend chicken chop), which was unfortunately not as good as that at Shilin Night Market…
The Lover’s Bridge lights up at night, projecting bright alternating colours amidst the darkening sky.
Danshui‘s night market certainly wasn’t as impressive as Shilin or Raohe, but we enjoyed walking through. The proximity to the coast meant that the area was noticeably cooler at night than in the city centre, which makes for a great reason to visit!
We found a cool vintage shop selling old toys and snacks. The shop certainly brought us back to our younger days…!
Our friends snatching our cameras while WE were shopping (eh heh)
Day 4: Travelling out to Jiufen and Shifen!
On the fourth day of our trip, we planned to go to the outlying towns of Jiufen and Shifen. Based on the weather forecast, it was going to be a bright sunny day and we banked on this and made our way there! Getting to Jiufen and Shifen would require one to travel out of Taipei City itself, and a combination of buses and trains will get you to the locations. Both places are famous for their activities, food and scenery (my goodness, the scenery!), and these places are must-visit when near Taipei!
A long-exposure shot of the incoming train, with Clive at the right.
We headed to Shifen first, and it was an easy transit at the station. The Pingxi train line also stops at Shifen, and that will be the way for all to get there! Fun fact: Shifen was one of several stops for transporting coal, which would have been very valuable in the earlier 19th century.
Clearly catering to the tourists…
After a crowded ride, we got off at Shifen station! The railway tracks sit uncomfortably close to the shops, and you’ll see what I mean later on!
The beautiful hills across Shifen captivated all visitors to this quaint town-stop!
Like so many, lighting sky lanterns is a main activity at Shifen. As the train crosses through the town only every 30 minutes, there’s ample time to get on the railway tracks to set the sky lanterns free!
“No crossing”? More like “no, crossing”!
Tourists can also opt to write on bamboo stumps.
Our lunch was at a local shop selling some of Taiwan’s signature dishes, including (in clockwise order): xiao long bao (pork dumplings), ru ruo fan (minced pork meat rice) and niu rou mian (sliced beef noodles)!
Finally, we got around to write on the sky lanterns! The different coloured backgrounds signify different wishes; here, the yellow background signified success and well-being!
So… romantic? HAHA
That’s how close the train gets along the shops!
It’s pretty clear that Damian’s command of Mandarin is just about terrible…
We were told to write our names on each side of the sky lantern to ensure that our wishes would come true!
We had a surprisingly fun time interacting with a local, who helped us take photos and instructed us how to hold and ‘pose’ with our lantern!
Trust me, we were not posing here (eh heh).
We crossed the train tracks to get to Qingan Bridge, which connected another nearby village.
The old-looking suspension bridge was sturdy, but a few shakes rattled the ladies!
The amazing countryside view!
After the eventful afternoon, we headed to Jiufen! The village of Jiufen sits atop a low mountain, where the scenic view was just breathtaking. Getting there required us to return to the main train station, and taking a bus from there. The Jiufen Old Street contains rows and rows of shops and eateries, selling famous consumables such as yuyuan (taro ball), almond powder, fishball shop, and various tea products!
The cobblestoned alleyway formed the mesmerising trail through an ‘old street’ indeed!
Unfortunately we got caught out by a sudden thunderstorm, and headed to a tea-house for a brief (turned out to be about 2 hours) respite. Tea-houses also double up as overnight inns, allowing residents to soak in the mountainous atmosphere.
After the rain….
The East China Sea can be seen from the height of where we were… Amazing!
With the sun out and about, we knew the sunset would be perfect!
Sandra’s drink, freshly brewed percolated coffee… and Bailey’s?!?!
A famed dessert from Taiwan but local to Jiufen, the yuyuan (taro ball) comes with shaved ice and syrups/ingredients of your choice! Tasty indeed!
Patrick took an incredible time lapse of the sunset; for the effort he put in, massive kudos to him!
The sunset is indeed one of the must-see at Jiufen, and such a magnificent, pictureseque vista is a rarity at such popular, tourist-y attractions!
This day was easy the most tiring of our trip, and we went back to our hotel rooms very much deprived of our physical energy, but buzzing at our buys and sights! Be sure to stay tuned for our last two days, along with a special surprise (clue: it’s something you haven’t see so far on our two entries!).
Till next time,