Sunday, August 27, 2017

7D6N Taiwan Travelogue: Shifen - Jiufen - Taipei

This is probably gonna be the second last post of my Taiwan trip (Phew! I’m almost done!) Since i’m only covering the highlights of my trip, the number of posts will not tally with the number of days i spent in Taiwan. For this post, i will be covering on my trip to Shifen and Jiufen which is slightly out of Taipei. Just like the Taipei 101, i would say your first time to Taiwan won’t be complete if you did not make at least a day trip down to Shifen and Jiufen! 
Getting to the Pingxi area from Taipei will take some time and effort but it’s not that difficult. Firstly you have to get tickets (NT$59) from Taipei main station, take a northbound train towards Ruifang. Do take note of the cabin (in this case, car) number and also your seat number as seats are assigned when purchasing. Make sure it's indicated.
Headed to the 7-11 to get some bites for breakfast and chanced upon the famous 純萃喝 bottled milk tea. Not a fan of coffee or tea so it didn’t matter to me when it first came to SG but what i didn’t know is there is so many different varieties. Decided to randomly try the “Sumiyaki” iced coffee (or is it mocha?) and oh my tians, i love it! Too bad it’s not available in SG. Even if it is, it’s still overpriced compared to the price in TW. 
At Ruifang (瑞芳) station, there will be another counter where you have to purchase transfer ticket to the Pingxi line (平溪線) for NT$80. If you are in luck, you won’t have to wait long for the transfer train, if not the next train might be probably an hour later. 
Here comes the colourful train that bring us to our first stop - Shifen (十分) 
Shifen is famous for their one activity, which is the release of sky lantern (天灯) Everyday tourist flock there just to release one of these lanterns where they write their wishes on it. It’s like a must do when you are there. 

There is like 2 pricing, 1 for the ones with only 2 colours, and the other with 4 colours. Each colour represent something so most people tend to go for the 4 colours one which cost NT200 ($9). They have like luck, wealth, career, love etc so you just write your wishes according on each side. At the end, the store keeper will ask you to stand in the middle of the tracks and take photos before releasing the lantern into the sky. The photos usually turn out amazing and well composed. Highly trained since they do it every single day, LOL 
One of many stray (but cute) cats that we spotted at Shifen. 
One thing you will notice at the Shifen is the long queue for this famous stuffed chicken wings which they grill on the spot. Basically it’s chicken wings stuffed with rice. We decided to join in the queue to see what the hype is all about and ended up queuing for at least 30 mins. IT WAS SO GOOD OMG. Should have gotten more than one. LOL 
The iconic bridge which i think leads you to the famous Shifen waterfall (十分大瀑布) but most people will just take the opportunity to take nice #OOTDs and group photos on the bridge. 
Something like this. HAHAHAHA 

I have never been to the Shifen waterfall before because i heard it’s quite a distance away on foot but in the end we decided to rent a scooter (NT200) I was quite skeptical at first because it’s literally a motorbike and we will be on actual road with cars but kelvin was quite confident of riding it so yea, #yolo. The journey took us about 10 mins on bike, followed by another 10 mins on foot, so much faster. 
The spectacular Shifen waterfall (十分大瀑布) which i read that it will create a rainbow as it splashes into the lake and it’s widely regarded as the most scenic in all of Taiwan. Did i see a rainbow that day? Can’t really remember. Probably not then. 
Selfie with the waterfall since it’s my first time there. We had the train timings on hand so we had to rushed all the way back, returned the bike and catch the train. So glad we made it for the train or else we had to wait another hour for the next one. 
Sotong balls anyone? 
It was getting late but we still decided to head to Jiufen since it’s Kelvin’s first time to Taiwan and i really like Jiufen (九份) because of the view and the food. From Shifen, we took the train back to Ruifang. Right outside the station is a taxi stand where they offer rides up to Jiufen at NT200, journey time - 15 mins. 
The famous Peanut ice cream roll which i missed so much! It’s so freaking good omg. 2 scoops of ice cream (taro or pineapple), grounded peanut candy and cilantro in popiah skin. Every bite into this roll is just so tasty, all the ingredients blended so well together. This snack is so famous that they even prepared a “sample” plate for tourist to take photos, HAHHAA 
I opt for the pineapple ice cream filling and every mouth was so refreshing! 
Came across this pastry cake with different fillings and i bought the pineapple one. Really good and not very sweet. Good to get a box or two back as souvenir. 
A couple years ago i came across this stall selling Taiwan sausage and the store owner herself, the auntie is the mascot of her store. Very comical with her huge wig and huge glasses. Not only that, the Taiwan sausages at her stall were very authentic and delicious. Definitely must try! 
Last but no least, Jiu Fen Taro Balls (九份芋圓) It’s like our blackball in Singapore but not as fancy. Homemade taro balls in warm ginger soup. Very comforting especially during cold weather. Very chewy and easy to eat. 
It was pretty late when we finish exploring the streets of Jiufen. We returned back to Ruifang station via public bus and got tickets back to Taipei (NT49) The train was pretty crowded as most tourists will visit Pingxi area for a day trip and return back to Taipei at the same timing, not to say the journey was pretty long as well. This marks the end of a long day out at Shifen and Jiufen. 

One more post to go,