The Magic of Being Spirited Away in Jiufen

Enjoying my coffee in Moonshine on Sunday, I was told I had to visit Jiufen while I was in Taipei. I had never heard of Jiufen. I was told I could jump on a bus and arrive in 1 hour, and it would cost about AUD$4.50 each way.

So I decided I would go after work today.

As I headed past the hotel reception I was wished a Happy Valentine’s Day by the hotel staff. I thought this was odd being August. But I was told this is when they celebrate it in Taiwan. Very adorable.

I was actually quite hungry this morning, so I grabbed some street food on my way to “the office”. It was a bit like a savoury pancake.

It was steamy hot out.

At the end of the day, I headed to the bus stop, to catch the bus to Jiufen.

It was about 10 minutes walk. I was aiming for the 1062. I only waited about 10 minutes, then the bus arrived. It was pretty packed, but luckily had a couple of seats left.

The whole trip was about 90 minutes.

I really didn’t know what to expect, so when I saw the town, I thought it looked magical.

I must admit, I was a little nervous to be on a big bus, hugging such a small road on the edge of a sheer drop.

Soon my feet were on the ground. Phew!

The air was definitely a bit cooler, and the view was stunning. Like a dream.

About Jiufen

“Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. During World War II, the town housed a Japanese prisoner of war camp where captured Allied Force soldiers (mainly British) were forced to work in the gold mines. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture.”

The town was CLEARLY popular. Tourists were piling in as the sun was going down. I headed into the markets.

Lots of options if you are a fan of chopsticks!

It was an intimidating place if you are claustrophobic. Yet really cute at the same time.

There was a lot of emphasis on this place being inspiration or similar to the background in the animated film Spirited Away.

For the record, I do LOVE that movie.

There were some tasty street food options in the markets too. I just had to try these mushrooms. So good.

The markets soon became extremely packed. I’m not super-comfortable in tight crowds, so I turned right and headed down a random laneway. I’m really glad I did.

I found fresh air, and a wondrous sight.

And I found a great spot to watch the sun go down.

The town glowed with a lovely apricot-coloured filter.

The was something gritty, yet beautiful behind-the-scenes of Jiufen streets.

I made myself comfortable and settled in for the show.

The golden rays bounced off all angles.

Soon the sun was gone. This was one of my all time favourite sunsets. I started to understand the magic of this place, and why so many people visited.

Walking around, I noticed the lights coming on.

There were so many groups of tours.

I found another spot, where the final light of the day was disappearing.

I could see why many saw “Spirited Away” in these streets and buildings.

Time to head back.

All down hill, back to the bus stop.

The sky had become pink and purple.

Lots of images of “No Face”…

There was a huge queue for the bus. So I jumped on the next available bus.

The buses final stop was Ruifang Station at the bottom of the hill.

I had to change trains half way, to get the express back to Taiwan Central.

What an amazing day. I was so glad I visited Jiufen.

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