Discovering Formosa : Day 2 – Jiufen and Taichung

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We had a better look of Keelung this morning as the sunlight revealed the harbour and the backdrop of hills. However we were not lingering any longer in this town as we were off to Jiufen right after breakfast. Jiufen (or ‘Nine Portions’) is an old gold-mining town set in the hills overlooking the sea. A popular tourist destination today, it was made popular by the movie ‘City of Sadness’ (never heard of it before but it is mentioned in every guide book) and later on was the inpsiration of the ghost town in Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’.

So I was pretty much expecting to see an old town in the hills, instead we stopped in front of a narrow pathway between two buildings. Well this was just the entrance to the famous shopping street in Jiufen. It ran upslope flanked by shops and teahouses, selling anything from sausages and almond tea to handicrafts and leather goods. We had time to walk up to the end of the street while sampling the famous Yam Balls dessert. At the end of the commercial street, there were a few teahouses that had good views of thePacific Ocean. Here was also where we finally spotted the rest of the old town set on the slope overlooking the ocean. The time spent window shopping did not allow us to futher explore the rest of the place.

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Our next stop was lunch in Taipei. We had a quick steamboat lunch before heading to Hsinchu for a short visit to a temple there. It was more like a toilet stop. Anyway we did manage to buy the popular Hsinchu Rice Noodles there.

It was then back on the bus for a two hour drive to Taichung. When we finally got to Taichung, we headed straight to the busy Feng Jia Market. This was a street market that had grown around vicinity of the Feng Jia University. There was a youthful air about this market with quite a handful of young entrepreneurs manning the stalls. Vicky enjoyed browsing through the many fashion boutiques there and we agreed that this was one of the best night market in Taiwan. The time to leave came to soon. Well this was part of being in a tour group where the schedule cannot cater to your personal whims. We were sent to our hotel for the night. We had time to go out for a bite before calling it a night.

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