We head towards Yehliu Geopark and Jiufen the next morning in a chartered taxi. Reasons being that there are 5 of us and I have planned for a number of places to go. Hence, it makes commercial and convenience sense to hire a registered taxi rather than public transportation. Mr Lee is our friendly driver for the day trip and I booked his service from taxi-tourist.com. He will be driving us to Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen, Jinguashi and Shifen before returning back to Taipei.
Yehliu Geopark (野柳地质公园) is located on the northeast coast of Taiwan. The car ride took less than an hour from Taipei. We are then greeted by bus loads of tourists near the entrance. Oh man…
This popular attraction is known for its natural rock formations caused by corrosion of seawater. There are plenty of strange looking rocks which seemingly resembling certain objects. Most of which have some official interpretation but I suppose it’s really up to one’s imagination and creativities.
Queen Rock is the star attraction of Yehliu Geopark and it seems mandatory to take a photo of her majesty’s better-looking side. Hence, it’s common to see a queue for doing that. Whereas there will be nobody queuing to see the other side of her face.
It’s no joke to queue under the blazing sun just to snap a photo of Queen Rock. And there will be inconsiderate ‘over-stayers’ who feel that they deserved more time at the expense of others. There’s this righteous security staff who will not hesitate to ask over-stayers to move their butts. Queue cutters get a piece of mind from this middle-aged gentleman too. Respect!
There are quite a lot to see and I especially like the coastal area. But I couldn’t stay for long as the immense heat and the crowds are getting on my nerves. Hence, it’s time to move from Yehliu to Jiufen.
Charming Old Street of Jiufen
Jiufen (九份) is one big change in landscape coming from Yehliu Geopark. The small town sits high up in the hilly region of Ruifang District and the cooler weather is a good change. Jiufen is often known to be gloomy and misty due to frequent rains but we are lucky to get all sunshine. It’s a rather touristy place to be but I actually find myself liking the charming old street and its unique name. The story behind the name can be found on Wikipedia.
The town was once prosperous due to gold mining but its fortune took a dive after the mine was shut down. It’s now more popular than ever, after being featured in A City of Sadness (悲情城市) and a rumoured source for inspiration in Spirited Away (千尋の神隠し). The narrow street is filled with tourists everywhere we go.
There are plenty of shops selling all sorts of stuff from food to souvenirs. It’s really nice to immerse in the bustling atmosphere despite the crowd. We also try to eat as much as we could while exploring the street LOL. But there’s just too much food to eat in Jiufen!
Different Taste Buds
Maybe our taste buds are very different from the locals as we cannot seem to like the fishballs and taro balls dessert from these two popular shops. This shop 五味综合鱼丸汤 sells a wide variety of balls and has celebrity photos all over its walls. But we find the food to be way too bland…
As for the taro balls at 阿柑姨芋圆, the fragrance of the yam and the generous portion looks really great. But somehow it just does not tick for us all. We must be weirdos especially seeing so many people enjoying theirs.
There are quite a handful of teahouses set in traditional wooden houses. It’s like a yesteryear Starbucks where people catch up while sipping hot tea.
It’s nice to see such stunning view after enduring the ever increasing human traffic along the old street.
The quieter residential street is a great place to explore too.
Jiufen is one of my favourite places in Taiwan and I will definitely return. Perhaps to stay one night to see all the red lanterns lighting up, which I am sure it will be a different experience altogether.