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士林夜市
士林夜市
Chiufen
Shuijin nine
【Roaming the ten famous tourist towns - the charming Shuijin nine】

In, 2012, a "ten top tourism towns in Taiwan" poll was organized by the Tourism Bureau. The local governments everywhere had a super intense competition. Finally, "Shuijin nine regional mining secret landscape" of the Ruifang District of New Taipei City was selected. Strolling through the Chiufen mountain towns, you can experience the local culture and common life, and stroll into the atmosphere of the early gold-mining times. The story of the prosperous past would be faintly visible, just like the clouds surrounding the mountains. The "Shuijin nine" areas, Including Shuinandong, Chinkuashih, and Chiufen, is the most famous tourist spot in the northern part of Taiwan and is visited by all domestic and foreign visitors. "Shuijin nine" in Taiwanese sounds like "beautiful for a long time" in Taiwanese. Shuijin nine is appealing because of Chinkuashih's mine ruins, the nostalgic stone trail in Chiufen, and the beautiful, stunning beauty of Shuinandong. That's why it has its legendary charm.

【Yin Yang Sea】 Formerly known as the Lian Tung Wan, "Yin Yang Sea" is a special geographical sight in northeastern Taiwan. The ocean, covered with a layer of vapory mist, blends with the skyline into a cyan background, but splashes out from inshore a huge puddle of striking brown. As the yellow and the blue meet, they embrace and get entangled with each other like lovers, yet each stubbornly keeps its own territory. This strange, mystical scene was made possible because of underground water, which brought out the rich gold and copper in the soil. It then flows into the sea, and is absorbed by the clay in the sea, therefore giving the water near the shore a tawny yellow that ocean water cannot dissipate. The best viewing position for this sight is in the Changren Pavilion in the Changren community of Shuinandong, or the Shibao Mountain on the Quanjitang.

【Shisanceng (thirteen layers) Relics】 The thirteen layers relics were once the mineral processing field for Shuinandong. The ruins cascade layer by layer on the mountain hills, hence the name. The majestic cement buildings standing with the mountains at their backs and facing the sea seem like a city in the sky, and was used in the early days in the gold mining industry. After the gold rush was over, it no longer prospered, leaving behind only the abandoned ruins to be destroyed by the wind and rain, standing there sadly, desolately. As the years go by, the relics leave behind only mottled traces of a human-made town. The thirteen layers relics, shrouded in shadows even under the sun, look much more solemn and quiet, silently facing the Yin Yang Sea and the hills. The broken beauty of the buildings, with its greenery creeping all over them, has also led it to become the perfect setting of many singers filming music videos.

【Shisanceng (thirteen layers) Relics】 The thirteen layers relics were once the mineral processing field for Shuinandong. The ruins cascade layer by layer on the mountain hills, hence the name. The majestic cement buildings standing with the mountains at their backs and facing the sea seem like a city in the sky, and was used in the early days in the gold mining industry. After the gold rush was over, it no longer prospered, leaving behind only the abandoned ruins to be destroyed by the wind and rain, standing there sadly, desolately. As the years go by, the relics leave behind only mottled traces of a human-made town. The thirteen layers relics, shrouded in shadows even under the sun, look much more solemn and quiet, silently facing the Yin Yang Sea and the hills. The broken beauty of the buildings, with its greenery creeping all over them, has also led it to become the perfect setting of many singers filming music videos.

【Golden Falls】 The Golden Falls by the Jinshui Highway is one of the most famous attractions in the Shuinandong area. The origin of its formation is similar to that of the Yin Yang Sea: the abundant rain of Taiwan's Dongbeijiao seeped into the cracks of the rocks, causing chemical reactions with the chalcopyrite and arsenic in the rocks, forming a kind of water with acid and iron qualities. This water, when flowing out of the ground, forms a golden waterfall, hence the name. In a place with a blue sky, white clouds and green ridges, the yellow waterfall stands out as it flows along the layers of mountains, making the soil it flows past a bold, bare golden color under the sun. What a magnificent scene!

【Chiufen】

【The Chiufen Mountain Town】 In the Chiufen mountain town, you can feel a strong, nostalgic atmosphere. The houses here stand close to each other in a rural settlement in the hills. Shuji Road, a road composed of mostly stone staircases, runs through the whole mountain, constituting a "丰"-shaped street view with the horizontally parallel roads Qiche Road, Qingbian Road, and Jishan Street. Once a prosperous place because of mining, and later abandoned, also because of mining, Chiufen had once been forgotten between the mountains in the mist. Movie director Hou Hsiao-hsien's "City of Sadness" brought the desolate beauty of the streets and alley into the spotlight, and before long, the crowds were back—Chiufen is no longer a mining town, but now it is a popular tourist attraction, well-known in Taiwan and abroad.

【Shuji Road, lined with antique buildings】 As you climb up the stone steps of Shuji road, you can enjoy the view of the entire Chiufen village on your way, as well as the sight of beautiful mountains and the ocean. On both sides, you can find a lot of antique buildings, either made of red brick or wood, such as the Ruifang Office of the Taiyang Company, Pengyuan, Shengping Cinema, and other buildings of great historical and cultural value. You can also find many well-known teahouses. If you start from the very bottom of Shuji Road and count the stairs as you go up, when you reach the Chiufen Elementary School at the top, you will count exactly 365 steps—the same number of days in a year! If you don't believe it, you can give it a try!

【A-Mei teahouse on Shuji Road】 The above picture shows A-Mei Teahouse, set on the Shuji roadside, its architectural style is a fusion of Chinese and Japanese. A row of lanterns hang outside, as well as masks of human faces, each with different features and expressions. It is said to be the source of inspiration for Miyazaki Hayao's famous animated movie, "Spirited Away," and has thus become an attraction popular with Japanese tourists. The layout inside was understated and neat, and you can find many decorative items in the owner's collection. The sesame oil vermicelli is a customers' favorite with its chicken soup made of rich, fragrant sesame oil and rice wine, and its soft, smooth yet not too mushy vermicelli. It's really worth trying!

【The quiet and elegant Qingbian Road】 Heading upwards from Shuji Road, you will arrive at the first horizontal road on the "丰" road map, Qingbian Road. In the early years, human-driven lightweight trolleys were the main means of transportation in the Chiufen region, and the light rail station was set on this road, hence the name Qingbian (light and convenient). This area had been, for some time, prosperous because of the transportation, commerce, and entertainment. There might not be huge crowds of tourists here, and not as many businesses as on Shuji Road and Jishan Street, but its lack of noisy tourists makes it a very leisurely and elegant place. The houses, bed & breakfasts, artifact shops and art studios on both sides of the road also serve to further the effect of the beautiful mountain town atmosphere.

【Jishan Road, the liveliest road in Chiufen】 After leaving Qingbian Road and heading back to Shuji Road, you can then head upwards to the most lively street in Chiufen—Jishan Street. The width of this street is less than 3 feet, but both sides are lined with over 200 stores. The first part of the street is especially prosperous, selling items such as unique snacks, souvenirs, tea, and floral tea, and there are also numerous tea houses, coffee shops, and even craft stores, leather boutiques, bed & breakfasts, and museums for toys and folk culture. Jishan Street retains many of the buildings left behind from the Japanese colonial era, as well as Chiufen history workshops.

【Chinkuashih—the brilliantly dazzling Gold Museum Park】 Through visiting the exhibitions in the gold museum (for free!), you can understand the mining culture of Chinkuashih, and also experience the fun of the Gold Rush. On the second floor, you can see the NASA-certified world's thinnest gold wire and gold foil, which show the superb level of metal craft in Taiwan. This picture shows the piece of gold nugget that all visiting tourists must touch. This special gold nugget is made of 999 pure gold, weighing 220 kg, its market value over 300 million NT if you calculate it according to the estimated current gold prices. It's commonly thought that touching it might bring you good luck in the financial aspect, and make you a rich person! Inside the park, there are a few other distinctive buildings, such as the four connected Japanese buildings, and the alchemy factory that was used as a guest accommodation in the Japanese colonial period before it became a factory. If you continue onwards on the trail of the four connected Japanese buildings, you can see a wooden building of a stone-washed appearance. This is the Environment Building. It constitutes the Goldwater Square with the alchemy factory and a pool. Many tourists take pictures here. The Prince Hotel, originally used to greet the Japanese Prince Hirohito, was built exactly like his residence to make him more comfortable. Although the prince did not arrive to stay here after all, the building is still quite charming. Valuable cypress was used to construct the interior of the building, giving the hotel an extravagant, but not excessively arrogant, touch, just like a Japanese court building. To the north is a beautiful Japanese-style courtyard, and to the south a mini-golf course and archery range, especially designed for the entertainment of the prince. It is the most complete existing Japanese-style wooden building in Taiwan. The only parts open in the Prince Hotel are the external park, a good place for tourists to take pictures. As you stroll through the park, the elegant style of the Japanese imperial family is still faintly visible. If you come to the Gold Museum Park grounds, you can also visit the Wukeng tunnel, where you can try out for yourself the experience of going through the mysterious mining tunnels, and learn about the hardships of the miners making a living in such a swarthy environment. This tunnel is a new one dug upwards from the old trenches and it is 110 meters long.
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