It takes a mere ten minutes’ drive from Old Street of Jiufen to Jinguashi (金瓜石). The small quaint town has an illustrious gold mining history during its heyday, which is very similar to Jiufen. Both of them had contributed to Taiwan’s gold rush era. Therefore, Jinguashi also shared the same sad story after the mining activities have stopped. There’s a saying that plenty of gold-ish minerals are still available to be unearthed. But the people here have decided against to restart the mining activities.
Perhaps wanting to preserve the precious site or maybe the preference of mining the current golden tourism boom instead. Especially with Jiufen’s popularity skyrocketing, the pair is once again sharing the limelight.
Jinguashi is now a museum where the preserved mining site and equipment is being showcased for people to learn more about its glorious past.
I am here mainly to see and touch the star attraction. And that’s a 220kg 999 pure gold ingot on the second floor of Jinguashi Gold Museum (黃金馆). It’s reported to be the largest of its kind in the world and I cannot miss this!
It feels damn nice to touch the solid Huat Huat Gold ingot LOL.
For all the glittering and shimmering, gold mining is one hell of a day job. And the exhibits in the museum educate us about the hardships which the miners faced. There is also the Benshan Fifth Tunnel which allows curious minds to have a better view of the miners’ working environment.
One thing which we did not expect was to see the Cherry Blossom here. This is definitely a pleasure surprise and we took our time to admire the beautiful scene.
We went off to catch a glimpse of the nearby Jinguashi Gold Waterfall (黃金瀑布) next. The unique thing about its ‘Golden Water’ is the copper and iron deposits being picked up along the way from the mountaintop. These collective mineral deposits from the old mining sites make the water highly toxic, as evident by the brownish-gold coloured rocks where the water passes. The ’Golden Water’ then continues its way down to the sea where it’s called the Yin-Yang Sea (阴阳海), mainly because of the brownish-gold contrast against the blue sea.
It is definitely a unique sight but perhaps it should be more of a toxicity waterfall. There are people touching the water despite the warning signage about how toxic it is. Gosh…
Fun Slide at Liandong Elementary School
Before making our way from Jinguashi to Shifen, we also visited an Elementary school or Primary School as we called it here. And no, we are not here to study. But rather, we are here to check out one of the longest indoor slides in Taiwan. The slide is 9.6 meters in length and around 2 storeys high. This drainage-converted slide was a brainchild of a former Principal. It’s said that he wanted his students to have fun indoor, given the substantial rainfall in the area.
Thanks to him now that foreign ‘students’ like us can have sliding fun at Liandong Elementary school too. It’s really fun and definitely brought on my inner child. Well, much to the dismay of those Taiwanese kids in the queue with me…oops…LOL.
Sky Lanterns at Shifen
Lighting up Sky Lanterns (放天灯) has been something which I have always wanted to do. I finally get to do it at Shifen in Pingxi region. In fact, the only area in Taiwan allowed for Sky Lanterns is at Pingxi region. These mini hot air balloons are also known as Kong Ming Lantern (孔明灯) or simply put, lighted lanterns that fly. It’s said to be invented by Zhuge Liang (Kong Ming) for military purposes during the Three Kingdom period. How true is that? No one knows. Whatever the origins, it has now become a tradition to release lit lanterns to the sky, in hope for prayers to be answered.
The Old Street of Shifen runs along a railway track where both sides are shops selling anything from Sky Lanterns, Souvenirs to food stuff. Most people are either paying or writing their prayers on the lanterns.
Apparently, the colours of the lanterns symbolised different prayers or wish lists.
When done with the writing, the vendor will ask people to hold up the lantern for photo taking before lighting it up. Then the flame will do the rest as the Sky Lanterns slowly rise up and away.
Also, the railway tracks are still in use and a train will pass through every hour or so. That’s when everybody will be shooed away from the tracks by the vendors. It is one interesting scene as that happens and with that, concludes our day trip.
Hao Ji Dan Zai Noodles in Taipei
It’s way past dinner time by the time we got back to Taipei. We invited Mr Lee to join us for the late dinner after a long day drive. He brought us to Hao Ji Dan Zai Noodles (好記担仔麺) where the food is simply delicious. Coming after dinner time has its perk too, as the crowds have already left.
I must say that the 好記担仔麺 is especially good! The noodle soup is some of the best I have tasted and I ate two bowls of it LOL. Thanks to Mr Lee for the great recommendation and one enjoyable day trip.