During my entire time in Taiwan I only spent 2 nights away from the capital city of Taipei. It’s not the way I had planed it, but after being there for a few days you couldn’t drag me away. That’s because Taipei is more than just a city with city-style activities. It’s because a quick jump on the subway, or bus ride and soon you were out in nature, exploring old historic town and taking amazingly serene hikes.
My friend Jaddie took a day of work and we went to one of these little towns called Jiufen/Jinguashi. (Okay, technically two towns but basically the same place.) Located at the top of the country it has amazing ocean views and mountains that rise right out of the sea water. In the 30’s this place was famous for gold mining, and quite prosperous. After the gold dried up, the village maintained it’s very quaint traditional feel and now represents the charm of a small town. During the Japanese occupation many wealthy Japanese built traditional buildings that are now on display as a sort of museum to the past.
We thought we were going to avoid the crowds by going on a weekday, but unfortunately we managed to go on the ONE weekday that most of the places were closed. Including the gold museum and all the Japanese houses. Luckily you can’t close a mountain, so we took advantage of the amazing weather and started climbing.
I’m not sure the name of the mountain that we climbed but across the way was the aptly named Teapot mountain, due to its distinctive rock formation at the top . Our mountain has old worn stone steps and gates and temple decorations more in the Japanese style than Chinese. It was very beautiful, but also very hot as the sky was almost cloudless and the trail exposed. At one point the path continued up, but we saw a small footpath that ran through some tall grass and decided to follow that trail instead.
That was one awesome thing about Jaddie (and Taiwanese women in general). She is more adventurous than many Chinese women I know. Not only was she happy to climb a mountain, but she wanted to off-road it and tromp through the grass. She wasn’t worried at all about her clothes getting dirty, if it was safe or if we would get tired. She just wanted to explore. It was awesome.
After all our hiking we were tired and thirsty. So we went to the Old Street, a tiny cobbled street where shops are so close together it’s basically a covered alley. It’s definitely built up for tourists but has cool knick-knack shops, yummy snacks and even a crazy local guy that makes these amazing art masks and made his own little museum. (“Obama! Inside!” he kept saying to me trying to get me to buy an entrance ticket. He apparently made an Obama mask that he thought I would love to see.)
After walking around, and snacking, we decided some tea was in order. We went down this tiny little alley into one of the nicest tea shops I have ever been. Not exactly cozy, this place had more of a Italian feel with small balconies with just one table that looked out over the quaint village to the ocean. We just sat there talking and sipping tea for hours. The weather was amazing, not too hot, and we just sat there for hours chatting and relaxing.
It was a great day, nice to get out and about in nature. It felt far removed from the big city, and yet was just a quick train ride away. And I want to thank Jaddie for a fun day! So I will thank her by putting this picture of her on my website for all to see. We were playing around on some old mining equipment they have set up for tourists. (Heh heh heh.)