Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 3 - Jiufeng - Jingtong - Shifen

After a good night rest, all were recharged for the full day out.

First, we had a nice breakfast served by the owner. The cafe is just next door to ours, so its very convenient for us. It offers a very good ambience and the weather was cool. Its a great place just to sit there and enjoy the scenery and peace over a cup of tea.

Photobucket We left the B&B at 8am to catch the 8.45am train from Ruifang. The bus ride from Jiufen to Ruifang took only 20mins but the stroll and the waiting for the bus took us another 15mins.

We took a family photos near the bottom of the steps...
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and this one near the top. That's quite a lot of climbing to do!
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We reached Ruifang station at 8.35am. I got us the Pingxi One Day Pass (NT52 - adult and NT28 - child) This allows us to hop on and off the train along the line as many times as we wanted. Our route today was supposed to visit Jingtong, then Pingxi and Shifen. So its makes sense to get the Day Pass.

So thankful to the kids for their co-operation to keep still and look at the camera as we do not have much time left. So a quick family photo in front of Ruifang Station and a bit of snap shot here and there as we passed the underway to the platform. There are photos showing the history of the place. We didn't have time to appreciate that in the morning, but we did stop to look at every one of them when we came back in the evening.

Photobucket Our first stop was the last station on the line - Jingtong. The 51mins ride there made us all tired up. We were "dying" of thirst too so the first thing we did when we arrived was to grab bottles of water to quench our thirst. We had an hour to spent here with the next train leaving the station at 11.55am.

Jingtong town - it was once the center of coal mining in Taiwan in the early 20th century. The town then went into a rapid decline when most of the population have moved away and many of the buildings were abandoned until recently when the government revived the tourism activities. 

The Jingtong Train Station was built in 1931, it is a wooden train station, very special. Jingtong Train Story Museum is just next to the train station. Its a place to shop for souvenirs. The 2 bigger ones busied themselves with the different stamps placed there for the tourist to stamp on their books. 
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We bought the famous ice-cream from 阿婆日本冰 to share. Not bad but melts super fast, I don't think its due to the weather as it is not hot.







Right next to station was a row of push carts selling this bamboo stuff where one write their wish and hang/ toss it onto the "wishing tree" opposite the train station.
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There were more to explore but with the 3 man around, the ladies didn't get to roam further to the Pit Museum and other historic sites. Here's a map of Jingtong.
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We were supposed to alight at the next station Pingxi but the males grumbled and thus we have to skip this town.
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We went straight to Shifen and everyone were excited for the next activity - releasing of sky lantern 放天灯.  And we will be spending the rest of the day here. But before we do that, had a quick and simple lunch at one of the "coffee shop" there. Lunch was finished in record time as everyone was eager to do the next activity. 
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The charges are quite standard. NT100 for single colour lantern; NT150 for multi colour ones. And additional NT50 for the "firecracker" to be attached onto the lantern. Different colour supposedly represent different "wishes". For us, the kids chose purple simply because they like the colour.  


Photobucket This was ours going up the sky. 
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We walked along the Shifen old street (十分老街) before heading for Jingan suspension bridge which was just "behind" the station.
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We were supposed to walk to the Shifen waterfall which at most will take us 15mins but the males decided to hail a cab (NT100) instead to ferry us there. The cab was not able to bring us to the "doorstep" of the waterfall. So after alighting, we still have to walk about 5mins along the track to reach the entrance.
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The waterfall is indeed very majestic. A mini Niagara fall. After snapping some pictures, hubby rested with Ryan at the cafe while the other 2 followed me to explore the place.


Map of Shifen Waterfall. You can see there quite a walking distant from the entrance.
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We stayed till about 2.30pm and left for our next destination - Coal Mine Museum. Its actually just down the road from where we alighted for the waterfall but they didn't want to walk and so we have to spend another NT100 to take us there.
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We got there just in time for the museum tour which we had booked - 3pm. The ticket price for the museum tour is NT200/person includes the coal mine train ride. 

They have a van to ferry us up to the museum where we were shown a video in Mandarin about the history of the coal mine. None of us understand what was said...so sad.

It was then followed train ride along the real track to the top of the hill. This track was used previously by the miners to pull the coal trucks up the hill. The coals were then poured into the tunnel and collected at the bottom of the hill near shifen station by the waiting trucks to be send to the "factory".
Photobucket Once back at the museum, we were given a tour on how coal was extracted, the working environment and the equipment used.
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I had actually booked us for the Firefly tour (at the same museum) which only available from mid April to end May. But hubby said it will be too late by the time it ends (10pm) and thus, again, have to forgo the experience. We took a cab back to Shifeng station right after the tour and train ride from there to Ruifang station where we have our dinner.

A stroll along the Ruifang street and hubby spotted a saloon and insisted that the boys have their hair cut. 
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PhotobucketThis time, we took a bus back to our B&B.

The taxi fare is standard. All listed on the board at the Taxi "station".

Useful link:
Taipei Railway (to check train arrival and departure time)

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