Thursday, January 28, 2016

Taipei Journal I "The Mysterious Jiufen"

This is the first post of my Taipei series. I believe it's a good idea to share some basic information that can be useful for first time visitors.
"Basic things anyone should know before traveling to Taipei"

Prepaid sim card with unlimited data: The first thing you might want to do after landing is get yourself a sim card. Mobile service provider counters can be found before the immigration. Just have your passport and cash ready. Then choose the mobile package that suits you best. (I bought package B from Chungwha telecom 300 NTD "5 days pass with 5 days unlimited data")

Bus From Taoyuan airport to the city: Follow "Bus to the city sign" Then you will find many bus information counters where you can buy the ticket to the city center. It takes about 50-60 minutes from the airport to Taipei city center. Most people usually get off at "Taipei main station" then continue taking MRT to the nearest station to your accommodation. I bought "Evergreen Bus" ticket since the bus will be stopping at MRT Zhong Xiao Fuxing station just one stop away from Zhong Xiao Dunhua (East district area) where my accommodation "Vendome East Inn hotel" is situated. Take Evergreen bus if your hotel is in East District. In case you have a huge luggage, you might want to consider taking a cap to your destination. It didn't cost that much for a short ride.

Taxi meter fare: Starts at 70 NTD. Make sure you have your hotel name and address written in Chinese just to prevent miscommunication. Remember they don't speak English! Tips to avoid getting ripped off by taxi driver is to study the map a little, so you know a bit about what direction taxi is going.
click on this picture to get the larger image

Getting around in Taipei: MRT is the cheapest and easiest way to get around in Taipei. Purchase EasyCard at your nearest MRT station. EasyCard can be used with Taipei MRT and bus services. With this card, you will receive 20% off on all rides. Once you return the card at the MRT station you will get both initial deposit and unused value back. (500 NTD can covered my 5 days trip in Taipei. Already included 100 NTD deposit)

I didn't do anything much on the first day as I arrived Taipei in the evening, so I was spending a couple of hours having dinner with my Taiwanese friends and walking around East district which I'll be blogging about in the next few posts. Anyhow, this post will be focusing on my 2nd day trip to Jiufen.

Travel to Jiufen: Take exit 1 of MRT Zhongxiao Fuxindng Station then walk straight to the corner of the street, you will find the bus stop where many people are lining up in less than a minute. Wait for Bus #1062 (Taipei-Jiufen-Jinguashi). It comes every 15-20 minutes. 
Trip length: Approximately 1 hour ride from Zhongxiao Fuxing bus stop to Jiufen.

You will see view of a coast right after you step out of the bus. If you're planing on visiting Jiufen in spring or winter, make sure to bring coat or jacket. It could be really windy and cold since it is located on the hill.
Jiufen is number 1 place to visit on my Taiwan attractions list. Why? I've seen pictures of this beautiful place in the mountain for a long time. Everyone I know went there and said it was the best place in Taiwan, but most importantly it is believed to be Hayao Miyazaki's inspiration for his magical animated film "Spirited Away". It's my favourite animation of all time and I am such a huge huge fan of his work. 
The Dragon architecture on the roof of this temple reminds me of "Dragon form of Haku" in Spirited Away.
Two sides of the street filled with vendors selling traditional food and snacks. Now I totally understand why Chihiro's parents were eating like a pig! There's a place to stop and eat everywhere! 
The famous Taro dessert,
Stinky Tofu is really stink and not really my thing!
I am not sure what is the name of this snack, but they will put an ice cream on top of peanut and sugar then wrap them up together. It's too sweet for me and I am not a fan of nuts.
Street was packed with tourist. Many people were queuing to buy something along the way. I was there weekday. Can you imagine coming here on weekend?!
There're many tea houses and cafes near the end of the street and on the hillside.
House of Ghost Masks a cool spot to stop by.
These weird spooky masks give me real-life Spirited Away experience!
Outfit Details
Jacket from Chicago in Harajuku / The Kooples shirt / Chaps Skirt / Mirt Denim Coat / Vintage Beanie / Zara Shoes / Vivienne Wesrwood Bag
A peaceful residential areas of Jiufen is located along the hillsides where you can take a deep breath of fresh air, wandering through mysterious alleys and enjoy serenity of nature and beautiful panoramic view of the coast.
Hillside view
Jiufen's residential area.
Stopped for a hot drinks at this lovely cafe on the hill side before leaving to Taipei
Hot Matcha Latte
If I have a chance to visit Taiwan again, I would love to come back to explore this mysterious yet charming little town again.
Stunning view of Jiufen at night. 
Are you a fan of Spirited Away? Is it the kind of place you would like to visit?

BStyle Voyage