Jiufen And Shifen

While I was volunteering in Taipei, I had loads of freetime after work.
One day Gloria and I decided to travel to Jiufen by bus.
The other day I traveled with Nelson to Jiufen and Shifen on his motorbike. We didn’t know it’s going to be a memorable road trip.

The first time I heard about Jiufen is just because of the fact that the downtown in the anime movie “Spirited Away” looks similar to Jiufen.
I came; I saw; I confirmed.
Thus Jiufen has heaps of Japanese tourists – since it has been introduced in many Japanese guide books about Taiwan – who are in search of the scenes in “Spirited Away”. Another movie which took place in Jiufen is “A City of Sadness”, hence the small mountain area acquired nationwide recognition. Soon cafés, souvenir shops and restaurants in Jiufen would bear the name “City of Sadness”.
Jiufen used to be the center of gold mining activity and a prosperous town by the end of the 19th century. The gold fever officially ended in 1971, bringing the whole village into sharp decline. But due to its tea houses and stunning views of the ocean fortunately it didn’t become another mining ghost town.
On my first trip to Jiufen, Gloria and I took the bus from Songshan station in Taipei to Jiufen, it costs a little bit more than TWD 100.
These days in Jiufen paper lanterns are lining down the street and the overlook of the ocean makes you on the first impression speechless.
Fighting the crowds on Jiufen Old Street drained me.
In every corner Jiufen is so colourful, decorative and artistic.
Usually visitors are strolling around the commercial district involving two pedestrian streets: Jishan Street and Shuqi Street. 
Rows of teahouses and art shops line both sides of the stairs along busy Shuqi Street.
Local snacks are wolved down in Jiufen Old Street. As you wander along the alleys you will be tempted to try a little bit of everything from sinfully good peanut candy ice cream, rice cakes and taro balls to smelly stinky tofu (warning: it is very very smelly).
Spending time and drinking tea in one of the tea houses or walking through the streets of Jiufen give you a surreal feeling of nostalgia.
Or at least the feeling of being on a movie set.
When the lanterns were emphasized at night and the ocean lies in front of you with all its beauty, suddenly Jiufen becomes a place where your imagination comes alive.

It was so crowded that I didn’t take any photos of the streets and the food there.
The second time I came back with Nelson we climbed the mountain in Jiufen instead of losing our time and patience in the crowds of the streets.
The hike will praise you with stunning views and is a very easy one.

Jiufen mountain area.
The view during the hike.
If I can’t live by the beaches, I’d take the mountains instead.

From the top you have a great view over Jiufen and the surroundings.
Don’t forget to take a water bottle with you 🙂 !

We spent a wonderful time in Jiufen but we decided after dusk to pay a visit to Shifen Waterfalls. Hard luck, it was closed already. Yep. That’s called life.
Spontaneously we thought our efforts should be rewarded. Especially because we had a horrible trip on his motorbike, and guess what ? He didn’t have the motorbike for a long time plus he drove us for the first time ever on his bike through the mountains. Sometimes I crossed my fingers seriously not to die somewhere in the mountains.
We climbed over fences and walls and I got chased again!! by a dog.
We were so lucky the guard didn’t spot us.
Was it all worth it? Definitely! These are moments in life where you feel more than alive, as if you could HUG THE WHOLE WORLD.
The huge waterfall by night reminds me of my 1000-pieces-puzzle I got for my 8th birthday (which I never accomplished until today).
The view was magnificient with the moon shining over me, meanwhile I felt nostalgic and somehow lost in the memories of my childhood.
Sometimes if I have downs during my travels, I’d start to remind myself back to this night; It helps me a lot to replenish my energy. I don’t know how the waterfall looks like by day, but I am almost sure at night it is even better.
Thank you Nelson for the great day, see you next time for a new adventure!

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