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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Sending Wishes to the Sky. 10-Days Trip Itinerary in Taiwan (Jingtong, Pingxi, Shifen, Jiufen Part 2)

Taipei, here I come again! Well, in late August 2014 we traveled to Taipei, Taiwan. For this trip, I had the fun and hubby had to work. The last time we both visited Taiwan was back in 2008, and that was our first overseas trip together. 

Hubby at a very last minute asked if I wanted to re-visit Taiwan and of course, I answered "XXX"! That's a great thing being a wanderlust wife...hehe! 

So, on 29 August 2014, I had my solo-travel and took Malaysia Airlines from Penang – Kuala Lumpur – Taipei. My flight was in the midnight and I arrived Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport the next morning at 6.00a.m. on 30 August 2014 while hubby greeted me at the hotel lobby. I spent 10 days, 9 nights in Taiwan (29 August 2014 – 7 September 2014) and it was entirely a free & easy trip for me.

Day 1: 29 August 2014  
Depart from Penang – Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)

Day 2: 30 August 2014  
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall – National Palace Museum – Damsui Fisherman Wharf – Tamsui Old Street – Shilin Night Market

Day 3: 31 August 2014  
JINGTONG – Jingtong Train Station (Japanese wood constructed station) – Jingtong Old Street – Jingtong Railway Story Museum – Coal Mining Memorial Park
PINGXI – Pingxi Old Street
SHIFEN – Shifen Old Street – Shifen Waterfall – Yanjingdong Waterfall – Shifen Bridge – Jingan Suspension Bridge
JIUFEN – Jiufen Old Street – Jiufen Village - Shuqi Street

Day 4: 1 September 2014  
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (Changing of Guards Ceremony at 10.00a.m.) – 228 Peace Park – Presidential Office – Taipei 101 & Taipei World Trade Center – Longshan Temple & Longshan Temple Underground Shopping Bazaar – Ximen Red House – Ximending Commercial /Pedestrian Area – Sogo Departmental Store (Fuxing Branch)
Day 5: 2 September 2014  
Taipei Confucius Temple – Dalongdong Bao’an Temple – the 44th Kan Street – Sogo Departmental Store (Fuxing Branch) -  Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area

Day 6: 3 September 2014  
Taipei 101 – Xinyi Shopping District Skywalks – Hankyu – Eslite Xinyi Bookstore – Shin Kong Mitsukoshi - Xinyi Place

Day 7: 4 September 2014  
National Museum of History – Damsui Fisherman Wharf – Damsui Old Street - Sogo Departmental Store (Fuxing Branch) – Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market

Day 8: 5 September 2014  
The Luzhou Lee Family Historic Estate – Yonglian Temple - Luzhou Miaokou Market

Day 9: 6 September 2014  
Yehliu Geopark – Taipei Songshan Airport Plane Observation Deck – Pinglin Old Town & Old Street – Bao Ping Temple – Night Markets near Longshan Temple (Guangzhou Street Night Market, Huaxi Street Night Market, Xichang Street Night Market, Wuzhou Street Night Market)

Day 10: 7 September 2014  
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) - Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - Penang

On the second day in Taipei (31 August 2014), after an energetic breakfast nearby the hotel area, we took the earliest bus from Taipei to Ruifang on a-day trip basis. The bus stopped us right in front of Ruifang train station (after a 40 minutes ride from Taipei). From there, we bought our one-day pass train tickets (NT$52) and traveled along Pingxi Branch Rail Line.  We boarded the train from Ruifang Train Station to the last station in (i) Jingtong and then followed by other two main towns: (ii) Pingxi and (iii) Shifen.

(i)Jingtong → (ii) Pingxi and → (iii) Shifen

Along the way, we witnessed beautiful scenery as the train winds through rivers, wooded gorges and rivers.

Jingtong Train Station built in 1931
Lucky Bamboo

Jingtong old town was our first stop of the day. Jingtong was once the center of coal mining in Taiwan in the early 20th century. Some interesting places around Jingtong we visited were the (i) Jingtong Train Station which was build in 1931, a precious wooden-built train station in Taiwan (ii) Jingtong Train Story Museum, a wooden architecture with 2 storeys (iii) interesting bamboo stuff where one writes their wish and hang/ toss it onto the "wishing tree" opposite the train station and (iv) the famous Coal Mining Memorial Park. 
Jingtong Train Station
Our second stop was Pingxi, the homeland of sky-lantern. In Pingxi, people have their wishes written on sky lanterns, and release them to the skies during the Lantern Festival held annually. We wandered along the old street and later proceeded to Shifen.  

Our last stop was Shifen, a small village famous for its stunning historic railroad. This old town is one of the busiest stops among all three which we visited.  The street was packed with people shopping, eating, and releasing lanterns. And of course, one of the highlight / must-do activities of our itinerary was the release of sky lantern into the sky. People in Pingxi believes that by writing your wishes on the lantern and release it to the sky, all your wishes will come true.  

This annual event,  Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the three most popular customs of lantern festival in Taiwan which has been recognized globally and was recently selected as one of the “52 things to do in 2013” by CNN Travel in January 2013. It was a fun experience for most visitors to Taiwan and we both had a lot of fun. You should try it too! 
Highlight of the day: Camel & Chengy sending wishes to the sky. More travels perhaps?
Fly strong and high. Hopefully all wishes are heard
Pingxi and Shifen are known for their sky lanterns. People write their wishes on them and release them into the sky
The train pulling into Shifen Station
The sky lanterns range from NT$100 to NT$150 depending on the colours chosen. There were many different colours of lanterns, but we chose red, mainly because it would look nice against the grey sky and red lantern represents good fortune in the future. We had so much fun and hopefully we will come back again just to fly the lanterns (hopefully).

Next, we moved on to Shifen Waterfall, on of the highlight of our itinerary. Here’s a bit of background about Shifen Waterfall. This waterfall is nicknamed the “Little Niagra of Taiwan” because while it isn’t the tallest waterfall, it is very wide (20 meters tall, 40 meters in width), making it the widest in Taiwan.  
Get outta the railway trail
Just one way street
We hired a cab to ferry us to Shifen Waterfall as I was rather too tired to walk/hike for another 15 minutes, what more uphill under the scorching sun. However, he was not able to bring us to the "doorstep" of the waterfall. So after alighting, we still have to walk about 5 minutes along the track to reach the entrance and guess what?! Once we got there, we were surprised and found out that the place/area was closed for construction work! Well, maybe this is a sign that I have to make another trip to Taiwan again.

We later on, proceeded to Yanjingdong Waterfall, Shifen Bridge and followed by Jingan Suspension Bridge located right opposite of the train station. And later on, we took the train back to Ruifang Train Station. 

The journey continued. After Shifen, we visited the mountain village of Jiufen, one of my very favorite places. We took a cab that brought us to Jiufen old town within 15 minutes from Ruifang Train Station. It is a small town in North Taiwan built into the side of the hills; slightly inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline.
Spirited Away - Another amazing view at the slope of Jishan Street
Cafes and tea houses along Jiufen fantastic offer fantastic views of the ocean
Wall feature
Along the way, the cab driver told us a little background about Jiufen. We were told that initially there were nine families staying in this relatively isolated village on the mountain. Every time shipments arrived from town, “nine portions” were distributed to the villagers.  Hence, the village was named after “Jiufen”, or rather nine portions in Chinese. 
Jiufen Old Street
Cosy teahouses where you could rest your feet, away from the bustle, and enjoy both tea and the wonderful scenery in Jiufen
The many faces of Jiufen

The town is covered by two main pedestrian streets – Jishan Street and Shuchi Street. The cab driver dropped us at the entrance of Shuchi Street where food vendors and craft stores along the sideways. The path between the two rows of shops was pretty crowded. Along the way, we tried the A-Zhu peanut ice cream roll, one of the recommended things to have in Jiufen as suggested by the cab driver. Of course, it tasted superb!  

We continued our journey along the many sidewalks and quiet alleys and walked up the slope of Jishan Street until the end. We spent nearly 3 hours in the small town itself before heading back to Taipei. I'd highly encourage you to bring your loved ones and enjoy this quiet and romantic place for at least 1 night.

Air Itinerary Details: 
Malaysia Airlines (MH): Penang - Kuala Lumpur International Airport  (KLIA) – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) / Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) - Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - Penang

Taipei Fullerton East
(nearest MRT station: Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station via Bannan Line)
Address: No.32, Section 5, Nanjing East Road , Songshan District, 105 Taipei
e-mail: service@taipeifullerton.com.tw

The Sherwood Taipei
(nearest MRT station: Zhongshan Junior High School Station via MRT Muzha-Neihu Line)
Address: No.111, Sec.3,Min Sheng East Road, Taipei

Places of Interest / Entrance Tickets: 
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall – FOC
Damsui Fisherman Wharf – FOC
National Palace Museum - NT$250
Presidential Office –FOC
Taipei 101 - NT$500
Taipei World Trade Center - FOC
Longshan Temple – FOC
Ximen Red House – FOC
Taipei Confucius Temple – FOC
Dalongdong Bao’an Temple – FOC
National Museum of History – FOC
The Luzhou Lee Family Historic Estate – NT$60
Yonglian Temple – FOC
Yehliu Geopark - NT$80

Must Try / Eat:  
  • Jingtong Chicken Rolls
  • Fried Squid (Damsui Fisherman Wharf)
  • Deep Fried Chicken Cutlets (Shilin Night Market)
  • Lime Juice
  • Xiaolongbao (Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101)
  • Wrapped Ice-Cream with Shaved Peanut Rolls (Longshan Temple Night Markets)
  • Ke Kou Fish Balls (Damsui Fisherman Wharf)
  • Ice-Monster Shaved Ice Desserts
  • Chia Te Pineapple Cake
  • Formosa Chang Braised Minced Pork Rice
Local Transportation:
  • Easy Card NT$200 (Deposit NT$100)
  • Taxi fares from Taoyuan International Airport – city – 900NT$
  • National Palace Museum  (Take Damsui Line, stop at Shilin Station and take bus no. 30, 255, 304)   
  • Yehliu Geopark (Taipei – Yehliu via Kuo-Kuang Bus no.1815 for approx. 1 hour 20 minutes) NT$96 
  • Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area (Take Nangang Line, Stop at Houshanpi Station) 
  • Sogo Departmental Store (Fuxing Branch) (Take Nangang Line, Stop at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station) 
  • Taipei Confucius Temple & Dalongdong Bao’an Temple (Take Damsui Line, Stop at Yuanshan Station) 
  • Ximen Red House &  Ximending Commercial /Pedestrian Area (Take Banqiao Line, Stop at Ximen Station) 
  • Taipei 101, Taipei World Trade Center, Xinyi Shopping District Skywalks, Hankyu – Eslite Xinyi Bookstore, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (Take Xinyi Line, Stop at Taipei 101 or World Trade Center Station) 
  • 228 Peace Park & Presidential Office – (Take Xinyi Line, Stop at NTU Hospital) 
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall – (Take Xinyi Line, Stop at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall) 
  • Taipei – Jingtong, Pingxi, Shifen, Jiufen – (Take bus no.1062 at Kee Lung bus station to Ruifang train station) (approx.1 hour) 
  • Damsui Fisherman Wharf - (Take Damsui Line, Stop at Damsui Station) 
  • Shilin Night Market (Take Damsui Line, Stop at Shilin Station) 
  • Longshan Temple (Take Banqiao Line, Stop at Longshan Temple Station) 
  • Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (Take Nangang Line, Stop at Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station) 
  • The Luzhou Lee Family Historic Estate &  Yonglian Temple (Take Luzhou Line, Stop at Sanmin Senior High School Station, walk from  Fuxing Road towards National Open University)

 **Stay tuned for Small World’s next travel episode – Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan 

 Read more about our travel experiences @ Taiwan:  

    “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” – Miriam Beard

     Welcome to Small World! This blog is not a travel agency, but rather a personal site which allows me to share my past travel experiences in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and sites every time I plan for my travel itinerary as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences.  I hope that you will find every piece of information & images contained within my blog handy and useful. Thank you very much for reading my post(s) and feel free to leave a comment/testimonial or click "Like/Share" if you love reading them all. xoxo The writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel advice, guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip(s)/ journey 
    - Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring -   

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