From Yehliu Geopark, our group headed to Jiufen Old Street. It’s a small village up in the mountains where gold deposits were discovered during the Japanese occupation. Jiufen is referred to as an “old town” because many buildings remain unchanged up to now. After World War II, gold mining declined and the old town stands today mainly as a tourist spot that celebrates the history and culture of Taiwan.
I liked the fact that Jiufen is easily accessible from Taipei. You can reach it in 2 hours by public transport. Our group went to Jiufen through a private van and it was a short trip from Yehliu Geopark.
While I enjoyed Jiufen as a destination, the event that transpired between my family and our van driver was an unpleasant one. It was past lunchtime and it was raining very hard. The parking lot was located below a very steep flight of stairs. The steps were uneven and slippery. Thus, my husband and I decided to rush through the old street by ourselves to grab something to eat and to buy lunch for my then 2-year old son and nanny. We left my son and nanny in the car so that they won’t get wet and catch a cold.
Unfortunately, while we were away, the driver demanded that the nanny and our son leave the van because apparently, there’s an ordinance that does not allow people to stay in parked vehicles in the area. The driver did not tell us about it even as soon after as we stepped out of the van. He could have said something so that we can adjust our plan.
It was VERY VERY cold and the rain was strong. Our nanny doesn’t speak Taiwanese and can’t communicate in fluent English either. She tried to tell the driver to contact us so that we can be informed about it but according to her, the driver yelled at her. Terrified, the nanny brought my son outside and carried him in one hand while she used the other hand to open an umbrella. However, the rain was really strong and they still got wet. She tried to find a place for shelter and by then, my son started crying. The nanny noticed that my son, then non-verbal, was having tantrums because he was feeling very cold. He was shivering and his lips turned dark blue.
What the nanny did was she returned to the van to ask that they be allowed to go inside. Just as they reached the place, we were also back with food in our hands. Then we saw our nanny crying as she was trying to make my son feel warm. My son just finished crying and his eyes were swollen. He was in a daze while drinking milk. He was so hungry he asked the nanny for a bottle.
Just the thought of what happened and writing this for you is making me tear up. Again, while Jiufen is a nice tourist destination, I don’t think it will ever make up for what we experienced there. What happened actually tainted our excitement for the rest of the attractions that we visited on the same day.
This is not to say that you should not visit Jiufen. I actually gathered some photos to share with you and I hope you enjoy them notwithstanding my unpleasant story. At the end of the day, we learned our lesson and we are making sure that it doesn’t happen again in any of our travels.
We had lunch at Chiu Chunt Dint Inn. It’s a nice 70’s style homestay that has a restaurant. I chose a beef in soy sauce set and while it’s not the best one I had, it was actually ok and very filling. The warm sauce was perfect for the chilly, rainy weather.
An assortment of fruit drinks in huge baby milk bottles.
My favorite street food in Jiufen: two scoops of ice cream wrapped in lumpia wrapper with peanut brittle shavings. I omitted the cilantro. It’s so good I got two for myself. The flavors combined perfectly and for me, they turned out to be a pretty darn good version of Chocnut ice cream. I will definitely eat this again when I return to Taiwan. And you should try it too!
On our way to Shifen Old Street, we stopped by at the Golden Waterfall for some photo op. Some old people say that gold flows from these falls but that doesn’t seem to be true. It’s called the Golden Waterfall because of its rich color which signals the abundance of heavy metal elements deposited there. We were told though that while the waterfalls look pretty, the toxicity level is too high that it is not even safe for touching.
And then we went to Shifen Old Street supposedly to fly our lanterns for good luck. It was still drizzling though and it wasn’t a good time to fly the lanterns. We did not push through with it and instead explored the Shifen Waterfalls.
We also discovered Jing-an Suspension bridge that overlooks Yen Jing Dong Falls and is connected to the viewing deck for Shifen Waterfalls. I mustered enough courage to walk through the bridge by myself and stay in the middle for this photo. I faked a smile and a two-thumbs up sign but deep down, my knees were trembling hard!
That wraps up Day 4. Will be back to complete our Taiwan Travel series so please be back.