Jiufen was one of the many things on my list of things to see and do in Taiwan. It was also one of the first things I did there. It may have actually been the first. Like what would become the norm, it was chilly and a little rainy.
This is also when I started to hate umbrellas. Everyone in Taiwan uses them. Everyone. And I just so happen to be the right height when walking through a sea of them, I have to duck unless I wanted to lose an eye.
Thankfully I made it out with both eyes and a new realization that I don’t really like jelly foods, which was unfortunate, because it was everywhere. I think I’ve digressed. I made it to Jiufen and was ready to face the Old Street.
It’s a little alley that branches off throughout the hills of the town. Sunset is a really good time to go. You can set up camp in one of the many tea houses dotting the hillside with a view of the coast. I ended up doing this twice and would not have been upset about going again.
There’s something sort of magical about the hills and the fog. It’s such a contradiction to what’s happening on the Old Street. Thousands of people squeezing by each other, trying to get into the shops, and taking way too many pictures.
Despite the crowds, I end up going back three more times. The drive up is a little terrifying. It was one of the few times I felt like I was on the Knight Bus in Harry Potter. It’s totally worth it, but I would maybe recommend getting a cab back to the Ruifang train station if you have people to split it with. It’s only a couple hundred Taiwan Dollars.
It’s really easy to get to from Taipei and definitely worth a day trip. There’s some cool hiking around it, but I’ll save that for later. All you do is get to Taipei Main Station then get a train to Ruifang. They leave pretty frequently, so no need to purchase ahead of time. Once you get to Ruifang, leave the train station and cross the street straight across from the doors. Walk left and once you pass the police station there will be a bus stop. It’s pretty easy to see, there’s usually quite a few people waiting. Hop on one of the buses listed going to Jiufen and you’re off!
The buildings glow in the light of the red lanterns. The people mill about in the streets. The camera flashes make you look up every now and then because you forget that you’re in a picturesque teahouse. You forget about the hustle and bustle in the street as the rain drips off the roof beside you. While it could be called a tourist trap, it can still be a pretty dreamy place.
Have you been to Jiufen? What did you think of it? Do you want to go?