Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taiwan: Jinguashi 金瓜石 Gold Ecological Park

We have survived 1/6 of the year ~ where did all the time went to? February is always a short month, coupled with CNY holidays, it felt even shorter *not that I'm complaining, haha* After our visit to Jiufen, we headed over the Jinguashi, notable for its historic gold & copper mines. A visit to the Gold Ecological Park(which opened in 2004) is a must.
 This park is located in the mountain town on Jinguashi & has rich historical, cultural and natural resources. It is also the first museum park in Taiwan created according to eco-museum ideas. 
 The map of the park ~ entrance fee is NT50/pax. The park is closed on the 1st Mondays of each month, unless it is a public holiday.
 The "miners" @ work.

 The places where u can visit within the park
The view of the town, where houses were built on slopes. 
Let's explore the park! 
In the colonial era, employee dormitory buildings built by Japanese companies were in abundance, especially in Jinguashi. To adjust to the sloping terrain, all the Japanese houses are neatly arranged on the slope. There are 4 types of houses: detached single dwelling houses, semi-detached, joined houses (3-4 homes in one building) and long houses. House area and type differed according to the rank of the employee in the company. Four joined houses are now rare in Taiwan, which has now become a precious cultural asset. 
Leecher standing outside Crown Prince's chalet.
The Tanaka Mining Corporation built the chalet in 1922 for the visit of Crown Prince Hirohito. The chateau was built in accordance with the prince's residence in Japan.
 We headed over to Benshan 5th tunnel - for visitors to experience being in an actual mining tunnel.
 The start of our experience, at the starting point of the tunnel.
Benshan Tunnel No. 5 power distribution center. The station mainly supplied power to Jinguashi area, distributing electricity to all corners of the park for their usage. 
In cooperation with Taiwan Sugar Corp, the old Benshan Tunnel No. 5 was renovated and partly re-opened to the public for the tunnel experience. 
 Waxworks are used to show the process of ore extraction and how the miners worked in the olden days.
After the tunnel experience, we headed to the exhibition area.
 The center piece of the exhibition area was this gigantic pure gold ingot (999.9 pure), weighing at a world record of 220kg. The value is of gold ingot is worth approx 12million USD.
And of course, we won't miss a chance touching it!
Gold Ecological Park
22450 No. 8 Jinguang Road, Rueifang District
New Taipei City, Taiwan ROC
Opening hours: 9.30am till 5pm (Monday - Friday), 9.30am till 6pm (Sat & Sun)
Closed on 1st Monday of every month

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taiwan:Jiufen 九份

After departing from Shifen, we headed over to Jiufen for lunch + sightseeing. Jiufen used to be a prosperous gold mining town, until the 1950s. The town then went into sharp decline when mining was discontinued. Today, the quaint streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean made this town a popular tourist place. It was drizzling by the time we arrived and visibility was extremely low, resulting in slight jam. 
Cars lining up & driving at slow speed. 
 The famous 7-11 shop which every visitor recognized, it was also the drop-off point for tourists to begin their journey of Jiufen.
Even though it was raining, it was still crowded in the streets of Jiufen. We headed for lunch at a nearby shop.
Simple fare of rice, vegetables, meat & noodles. 

After our lunch, we took a walk around the area. During the first years of the Qing dynasty, the village here housed 9 families, thus the village would request for "nine portions" every time shipments arrived from town. Later, this village became known as Jiufen.
 When in Jiufen, the most famous is Grandma Lai's Yuyuan, 賴阿婆芋圓 (taro balls)
The texture is similar to Tangyuan, except that these had no fillings. Inexpensive and good comfort food especially in the cold weather. These are available in hot or cold version. 
Available for takeaways too, to prepare your own taro balls @ home. 
143 Jishan St, Rueifang District, 
New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 
Another unique snack that we didn't get to try - meat ball with red vinasse. Certainly looked yummy!
Shopping for "self-healing" rings, lol!
Candy is all sorts of shapes - lil twin stars, pikachu, ultraboy etc. I used to like these when I was younger, but now, I find that these are too sweet for my liking. 
The supposedly famous Jiufen peanuts, which I bought a couple back for tasting.

Jiufen boasts numerous teahouses that offer great views over the Pacific Ocean. We didn't check into any tea houses this time round, for there wasn't any stunning views that we can see in this weather. 

The town of Jiufen is built ito the side of the hills slightly inland from Pacific Ocean's coastline. Jishan street (基山街) & Shuchi street (豎崎路) are the main 2 area of interest to visitors, which is small enough to cover by foot. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Taiwan: Shifen Old Street 十分老街

Starting the week with another TW entry :) The 2nd last day of our trip and as mentioned previously, we had a driver to take us around Taiwan for this day. We started off with a visit to Yehliu Geo Park, then headed off to our next destination. Along the way, Meeky told us a lot about Taiwan, entertained us and even treated us to the famous, or rather, infamous
槟榔 (betel nut)
槟榔 stall along the road-side, extremely convenient for motorists. The 槟榔西施 looked decently dressed too, much to my disappointment, lol!
This type is known by its Taiwanese name (in Mandarin it would be called qing zai) and consists of a small, tender areca nut that is cut lengthwise and stuffed with the flower inflorescence of the Piper betle plant. It has a red limestone paste that gets its color from the Chinese medicinal Er Cha (Catechu)
How it looked like after chewing. Try it once, but don't get addicted to it for regular chewers have a higher risk of damaging their gums and getting cancer of the mouth & stomach. 
We arrived @ 十分 Shifen.
Brisk business at this make-shift fruit stall.  
Snacks that Meeky bought for us - thumbs up for his service!  
Places that you can visit @ Shifen.
十分老街 is the only old street which has trains passing through everyday. The street is right next to the tracks but there are no fences in b/w.
The train passing by the street. All activities will stopped while tourists kept snapping away.
After the hype of the trains, we got back to our main agenda ~ to release sky lantern :) The meaning behind the colour code.
Leecher penning his wishes on the red portion, which symbolise health.
Wasted one big portion just for 4 words, lol!
Daddy-in-law writing down his wishes too. 
Pink symbolised 幸福 & 快乐
@ least I aimed to maximise my wishes, lol!
Since there are 4 sides to the lantern, must aim to maximise as much as possible :) 
 Leecher gave up following the colour code and started writing down his personal wishes, lol!
I also wished for more bags, lol! On hindsight, I should have wished for more clothes, shoes and whats-not :p
 Roger's wishes
With our wishes before we released them into the sky. 
You can add 炮竹 for a nominal fee.
Up, up & away, carrying the wishes into the sky.
Roger, the official photographer of the day. 
Mandatory pose with the sky lantern, on the railway track.
Getting ready to release it into the sky :) 
Hope our wishes will come true :) 
You can purchase mini sky lanterns back as souvenirs.
 Hold-hands pose while balancing on the railway tracks, haha!
Ping River (Pingsi) Township
New Taipei City 226
Taiwan, ROC
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