Here’s the second part of my Taiwan Trip. But before I go dive in to the details, here’s a confession (well, I did say this before but worth mentioning again as it did influence my reason on why I want to visit Juifen)…so *clears throat* I haven’t seen and Ghibli movies in full. Well, I did see like like the last 20 minutes of Kiki’s Delivery House and Howl’s Moving Castle when I chanced upon it on Disney Channel while I leisurely flippin’ channels out of boredom. And well, there’s an ongoing rumors of how Juifen inspired the movie Spirited Away (although Miyazaki debunked that rumors, the similarities are too uncanny though, imho of course). So I knew that we will need to visit it as we embarked in our Taiwan getaway. I want to see that magical, former mining town that surrounded by tea houses and red lanterns.
Sorry beautiful Shifen Waterfall, but I’m too scared to cross the swaying bridge.
We made a side trip to Shifen and Juifen on our third day in Taiwan. We booked our trip via klook. I think you should try klook, we have great experience on the stuff we booked via klook than kkday (yes, I am name dropping lol). Our meeting place was Ximen Station, and because we were scared of getting lost again, we went there 30 minutes ahead of our schedule just to be on the safe side. Our guide was the nicest~ she was so jolly, full of energy. Now to our trip, we first drop by to Shifen. So Shifen, according to guidetotaipei site, “Shifen Old Streets is a collection of lanes and alleys in and around the Shifen railway station area. Originally built for transporting coal during the Japanese era, the station and track runs straight through the village.”
Both Shifen and Juifen were largely influenced by Japan during their colonial period. Our main agenda in Shifen was to fly our lantern. But before we went there, we also dropped by to Shifen waterfall. I didn’t go there, my two sisters and my nephew went there though. I, on the other hand, the coward that I am, cannot fight the fear inside. My Acrophobia is a serious fun blocker. It failed me so many travel times. How I screamed in that mini rollercoaster in Legoland (Malaysia) and how I panicked and of course, cried, in that suuuper long escalator in the mall near Gardens by the Bay (Singapore). I’m not afraid of heights if I can’t see the bottom but in Shifen in order to go and see the waterfall I need to cross that hanging bridge! And it sways! And I was like, “nope, you guys go ahead and I’m gonna chill here” so they took some pictures for me haha.
And then we made wishes and flew our lantern sky high!
After that we went to railway where there were tons of lantern stores…of different languages?? (seriously Juifen & Shifen are tourist spots on steroids…the amount of people will overwhelm you, and we went there on a Monday mind you ). There were so many tourists from different Asian countries I observed.
The store we got our lantern was coordinated prior, part of the package we booked but the lantern itself was paid separately. They will give you the lanterns and you will write all your wishes there. There are meaning for different colors but I forgot but we went there wrote all things we hope for: happiness, health, promotion, more travel, financial success (aka money lol), and others. After that the store called us and we went to the rail tracks (there really was train, I thought it wasn’t functioning), he took our pictures per facet of the lantern, and video the part where we let go of our lantern to fly.
It soared pretty fast and high, I didn’t get the chance to take a picture w/ my phone clearly. They said the higher it ascend the more the wishes will come true. It was fun, really! We also checked out the souvenir store and they really marketing that Ghibli inspiration.
The steep and narrow alleys of Juifen. And the red lanterns lights the town.
By almost dawn, we went to Juifen. Since it was almost dark, sunset, the lanterns were glowing up red and it was beautiful.
The not so beautiful part was the crowd. There were so many people. The volume is like Divisoria during holiday season but harder ‘cos streets are steep and narrow.
As we Filipinos say “di mahulugang karayom” yep, that kind of crowd. There were tons of stores, from food, bags, toys to souvenirs but the most famous were the tea houses. Some were expensive for us so we only tried some food stalls there. I think I ate red bean cake, some Japanese pancake and of course tea (not milk tea, like regular hot tea). It was kinda like a maze. I was glad that we found our way back after we treaded that narrow streets.
It was sidetrip that was worth the travel! Capping our night w/ dinner ‘cos it was late.
It was kinda late when we got back and the places in the mall (near our the place we stay) were closing. So we just dined in some place nearby and then we wrapped up our Juifen and Shifen sidetrip after getting our dinner. The next day was the continuation of our Taipei trip but I already made a summary. Go check that out if you haven’t.