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Day 3: Jiufen

Hurray, today we were headed for Jiufen 九份, mysterious town perched high on the mountains of the Ruifang district, with the interesting background which I will speak of a little later. First things first, BREAKFAST.

Wang Ji Fu Cheng Rou Zhong /Wang Ji Rice dumplings 王記府城肉粽

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9am: Cha read of this place in his Taipei travel guidebook, so there we were. I wondered to myself, how mom ( who is rather proud of her cooking) would react to eating something that she makes very well. Namely, Meat dumplings. …hmmm…impartial judgement is subjective to hormones, weather changes and familiarity isn’t it?

Look above at the menu for the pricing of each food item. As with all taiwanese eateries, drinks were not sold here, which is such an odd thing really. But never fear, 7 eleven or something of it’s equivalent is always somewhere in the vicinity….

Fu Cheng Rou Zhong

Add: Xi Ning Nan Rd no 84, at Ximending

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Aunty said her mien sien and other popular dishes were not ready at that hour. There was an odd looking cornstarchy like lump with sauce poured all over it,I don’t know what it’s called but it  didn’t look too appetising….

We ordered a bowl of fishball and white radish. Their fishball a bit too hard for me.

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Our Rice dumpling / Zhong Zi arrives!

Dad digs in with gusto.

SAMSUNG CSCI loved it. Mom said it was not fit to be sold, which was pure exaggeration. ┐( ̄ー ̄)┌

But I will rather pierce my liver rather than tell mom in law outright that I prefer it to her pepper laced one.  Mom’s zhong zi is still the best I’ve tasted ever, with this  王記府城肉粽 ‘s a close contender. Wang Ji’s rice dumpling has the right colour to it, the right level of saltiness, tender pieces of pork … yummmy…

NEXT we took a taxi to Taipei City Inn II, and asked if we could leave our luggages with them. Plan your Jiufen carry ons. Repack and travel light in case your hotel is up flights of stairs and you intend to buy souvenirs.

taipei city inn II

They let us leave our luggage! We can? Loving this hotel already!

We had another option of course, to look for the Taipei Railway Station Carry-on Baggage Centre 臺北站行李託運中心 and leave our luggages overnight for a small fee of NT 17.

Add: No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Taipei.

JIUFEN

Jiufen is also known as 雨城 / rain city. Knowing this beforehand would have been NICE!

I swear, I’d checked the weather forecast for Taipei and it NEVER occured to me that Jiufen would have a different sort of weather. And crazy weather at that. It rained miserably after our lunch and we were stuck in our rooms, missed the trip to the MiaoKou Keelung night market, and had only 7 eleven to comfort ourselves with for supper…

(T_T)

Now about Jiufen:

Earlier in the Qing Dynasty, Jiufen / nine portions was a village that housed just nine families. Nine families means the need for nine portions of provisions from ships. Then came the discovery of Gold and the japanese occupation, and this quaint little village thrived and became a town. The decline came after world war 2, with the closing of the gold mines,and  the town was almost forgotten until the chinese historical movie by Hou Hsiao Hsien on a family living through the 228 incident in 1947 was filmed in Jiufen.

A_City_of_Sadness

The film was A City Of Sadness and it brought interest to the fading town, but most interestingly, it was the first film that touched on the KMT’s treatment of the taiwanese people after Japan handed over the reigns. I hate war stories. I hate brutality in any form. I’m glad that the film was made and that it served two purposes : To remind people of those who were massacred and in addition bring interest into Jiufen, which might have been a sad city / town if left by itself.

spiritedaway

I watched Spirited Away, the japanese anime which used Jiufen as it’s backdrop for it’s major scenes. A most unusual film that. I have it in my IPAD, I recommend watching it as well. It’s not about war, on a lighter note, it’s about a young girl and her encounter with a bath house for ghosts….I won’t give the plot away though hahahha…

To get to Jiufen, we have to travel to Ruifang district first from  Taipei Train station ( The station is just 10 minutes walk from City Inn II).

Ruifang

First, purchase the tickets from the Taipei Train station counter. You can get the tickets online, or view the train schedule at http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/ . We boarded the Tze Chiang Limited express with reserved seats which is a fast train (40 minutes as opposed to 60 mins for a slower train. NT 80 /38) for one  way in case we would come back by taxi.

Here we are aboard the speed train, after walking down many escalators…it was kinda confusing, we had to stop a few times for directions.

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Look at Noel. He looks so sad with his right eye infection. Here he cannot understand why his daddy and Ah Ta (grandfather in Hakka) has to be in a different coach. Aiyo, son, we’ll see each other in just less than an hour, cannot wait mer?….(Which is why booking the tickets online may be a good idea).

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Look at him and his daddy when we finally get off the train at Ruifang. It’s like a drama movie with a happy ending.

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My goodness. Can we move on? We need to find the bus to get to Jiufen.

Right out of the train station, past this HUGE christmas three made of plastic bottles…

ruifang station

…….and cross the street to the opposite side, where people will be queueing up, just near this JSP shop

Ruifang jiufen bus stop

NTD 15/ pax 15 minutes journey.

bus stop jiufen

The bus will not stop at Jiufen main entrance, rather it will drop folks off at a bus station lower down the hill and you’ll have to walk up to see the 7 (seven) 11 and the entrance.

old street jiufen

The popular LI YI (sun biscuits) bakery is just across the road from Jiufen old street entrance. Never mind that, let’s take some pictures first..

hong kong tourists

jiufenmaltose shi yang yang

And after passing by so many interesting shops, we were surprised to look up and see our hotel Chiu Chunt Dint 九重町 . I took a pic of the outside window display for its restaurant.

jiufen chiu chunt dint九重町客棧

And here we are, with…these really grumpy receptionists. I produced my booking printouts and they suggested we upgrade (for an extra 100 ringgit) for a room with two beds (since Noel was the 3rd guest). Uh, thanks, but no thanks?

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Really small room. Rock hard mattress. Huge flatscreen tv. There’s an electric kettle and tea satchets. Window in the bathroom which lets in cold drafts of air so that when you wake in the night/ morning to use it, you feel like your feet and then your butt’s on ice.  And no towels. It seems they only give it out when you request for it. Sigh. With grumpy receptionists who don’t recognise you despite your coming in and out to get your room keys (they think every walk in customer is coming for their restaurant), and a depressing room with a great view of a concrete wall, I’ll say it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be coming back.

A standard room古早雙人房 NT 1620. I emailed straight to book this room : a1a502741@yahoo.com.tw   Tel: +886224967680

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More shops.

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Below is the infamous Jiufen sausage lady’s shop. I did not see the lady herself. Is business so good she doesn’t need to make an appearance anymore? I didn’t get any, to my eternal regret! I thought I’ll come back later when it was less crowded.

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We get a shaved peanut with a dollop of ice cream wrapped in a popiah skin. Sorta Ice cream peanut popiah. Interesting combo, but I can’t bite into ice cream…OuuuCHH.

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Look, Noel finishes it by himself…

popiah jiufen

Lai Ah Poh Taro Balls!

Taro balls

I got a little confused while posting this. How is a Taro different to a Yam?

                                                 Taro                                         Japanese  and Normal Yam

taro roots   japyam   yam

taro   Taro grows below the groundvine yam Vine like Yam

Read http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2010/7/16/lifefocus/6651716&sec=lifefocus

Taro and yams are entirely different veggies. Taro balls 芋圓 are made from mashed taro mixed with sweet potato / corn starch. Taro can be replaced with sweet potato or green mung bean.

I took the cold version. OK OK….it had not started drizzling then and I was feeling warm from the littleee bit of exercise walking up those cobbled steps..

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This is Cha and Noel’s. We all liked this. Hmm…there are red beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, green tea balls in there. I like having this dessert in sugar water rather than all that pudding, soya bean curd, agar agar…..Here’s a recipe for Taro balls dessert.

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Some family shots.

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Without any dinner plans, we went into Xi Mong Ren Shen (Life’s Like A Movie) restaurant. On the way we’d passed Jiufen Tea House and on viewing the menu, found it too costly. An idea of how much it was:

A pot of tea for NT 800, a Dinner set for almost NT 400-500…, I went to get a tea pot for my dad and balked at the NT3000 they offered. Some other time. It looked really beautiful inside though 😦

 Xi Mong Ren Shen (Life’s Like A Movie) restaurant

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Dinner here was slightly less expensive than Jiufen tea house, and I rather liked the meal. We ordered a family set and couldn’t finish it.  Only after we’d finished dinner did the weather change and I didn’t realise that I wanted to look for the famed Ah Mei Teahouse (where the City of sadness was filmed), just to order a pot of tea. Also missed the sausage, the dried scallops shop, the fried mushrooms….AAaaaggghhhh….

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Above: The toy train that emits the cutest train sounds I got for Noel and myself from the Tze Tziang Train. Cute!

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After lunch we went back to our rooms because it started pouring…..and pouring and pouring. I sneaked out and bought my own stuffs, so it wasn’t a complete waste. Got the grilled sea snails, it was yummy.

Dinner that night was at Chiu chunt dint’s restaurant. It was the usual home cook fare, even mom in law was satisfied with it 🙂

dinner

Stuffs I managed to get in Jiufen as souvenirs for my staff. I got my relatives some beautiful blouses and forgot to take the pictures of them…DOH!

A small wooden container for mom to put her chili paste

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Noel’s Maltose Dora and Doraemon FROM JIUFEN

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Sandalwood clogs keychains FROM JIUFEN. So cute right?!?! I should have bought MORE!!! Different shops sold them for different prices…I think it was NT100 for 4 in one shop, then for 5 and then for 6 pieces in other shops!!

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This key chain has got miniature taro balls inside…sooooo cute! Initially thought I’ll keep it, but end up giving it away too!

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Louis’ -my brother – beef jerky. Everytime see Beef jerky will remember to get for him! hahaha!

NTD 75 if I remember correctly

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We’ll stop here. This is the last shot I got to take that evening. What a horrid weather it was.

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Next >> Day 4 Back to Taipei

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