It had been a marvelous week of sloth. Most of my time in Taiwan had been spent weaving through crowds of people at Taipei’s many street markets, in transit to said markets, or on my back recovering from a food coma after. My co-adventurers and hosts, Grant and Tammy of Grizz and Tam Travel fame, had shown me the best of what Taipei had to offer, but it was time for us to get out of the city. So, for the weekend, we found ourselves in the little old town of Jiufen.
My favorite thing about Taiwan is the food.” – Jason Wu
We’d found a swell place to stay: Chian Nan B&B. It actually turned out to be the entire upper floor of a home with two full beds, a stunning view, and an ample amount of space — almost too much. It made for a great base to return to in the evening.
But we’d come to Jiufen for a reason, and it wasn’t for a swanky apartment. We’d come for the Jiufen Old Street and all the food and curio therein.
The Old Street of Jiufen is… an experience. We were there on a weekend, as was half the population of Taipei. The quaint lane of rustic shops was filled to bursting with tourists, and the amount of time required to get from point A to point B was determined by how aggressive you were with elbows and a liberal application of body weight. The colors and lights of the shops passed in a blur as we jostled and bumped our way down the street — all in search of the food…
…and boy, did we ever find it. Fish balls (張記傳統魚丸), taro balls (赖阿婆芋圆), peanut ice cream rolls (九份阿珠雪在燒), and more… It was a foodie’s paradise, and we bounced from stall to stall. Almost all of it was fantastic (especially those ice cream rolls), except for the gooey log of something that ended up being a glutinous rice cake (阿蘭草仔粿芋粿). You can see my expression when I was faced with eating one below, and I can tell you they taste about as delicious as they look.
A couple turns took us into the courtyard of the Shengming Temple. Freed from the oppressive confines of the Mask Museum, we breathed in the fresh air and took our time wandering around the premises. Buddhist temples have fascinated me for a while, and I’ve managed to not get sick of them yet. I love the art infused into every possible surface: the pillars, the lattices, the rooftops…
We returned to our room, tired and a bit overloaded from the business of the day. But a tasty dinner and a few drinks helped calm us down, and we finished the evening with a relaxing game of cards as we watched the sunset.
From MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing (忠孝復興), Brown Line 1 and Blue Line 5 interchange, leave from Exit 1 and take bus route 1062 (Keelung Bus) to Jinguashi, alight at Jiufen. The ride is about 1 hour and the fare is NT$102. Be sure to get a good seat to enjoy scenic views of Northern Taiwan. Source: Guide to Taipei.com
My inspiration for going to Jiufen and the source of many of the recommendations which helped us decide what to do there was Ryan and Stephanie from the Hedgers Abroad! Check out this excellent post about their visit, as well as an ENGLISH hand-drawn map of the town and its attractions.
How about you? Ever been to Taiwan, or Jiufen? What were your impressions? Anything to add to this post? Share your recommendations in the comments below!