Monday, November 12

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 JinGuaShi Gold Ecological Park

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 JinGuaShi Gold Ecological Park
[ this is a continuation of Taiwan trip Day 2 Shilin Night Market ]

Taipei to Ruifang Train Station
Day 3 saw us pack up and ready to move to our next target, Jiufen! After checkout from TaiwanMex 2 (you just leave the keys in a box by the computer), we took a short walk to the Taipei train station. Passed these pretty flowers by the roadside. Little did we know that today was gonna turn out to be a long day and I do mean long, it lasts till tomorrow!

Train tickets NT49 from Taipei to Ruifang train station together with our first Railroad Bento Set!

For a standard price of NT60 you get a nice big slice of pork chop with a braised egg and some pickles. Blurry pic due to difficulty eating and shaking train.

Ruifang Train Station to Jiufen Town
After reaching Ruifang train station, we took a bus up to Jiufen town as the minsu we had booked - SunnyRoom minsu did not do pickup from Ruifang. Some other Jiufen minsu provide pickup service so remember to ask your minsu beforehand. Anyways no problem as this was a well travelled tourist route and there are many frequent buses.

Hah look did you manage to see that "bullet-hole" in the windscreen of our bus?

Phalaenopsis Blume
After a scary bus ride up the mountain side, we stopped at the Jiufen local police station stop as instructed by minsu owner. This beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid was in full bloom as a result of tender loving care from the cops.

From there you cross the road and walk towards this gate. See the White Guitar? yes follow that all the way downhill...

After you get to the bottom walk straight ahead until you come to a second set of stairs. Just a short way down you will see the entrance to SunnyRoom Minsu! This is the place to stay when you get to Jiufen. More on this in tomorrow's post.

Location : JinGuaShi Gold Ecological Park
After checking in, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Jinguashi, which is a short bus ride from Jiufen. This area used to be an old mining town during the days of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan and was famous becoz the mineral mined was GOLD!!!

To get there take a bus from Jiufen to Jinguashi. When we dropped off at the Jinguashi bus-stop which was just outside the Gold Ecological Park. Its a stretch but this park is ecological as the mine exhibits are integrated into the mountain itself which is part of nature.

Before getting to the Museum of Gold, you actually have to do a short walk from the bus-stop. The park is actually in a large area with other attractions. At the entrance there is a tourist information center where you can get more info at the entrance park entrance.

We decided to visit the Four-joined Japanese Style Residence first.

[As per G.E.P. website : Taiwan has many surviving examples of employee dormitory buildings built by Japanese companies in the colonial era. The large area of Japanese dormitory buildings in Jinguashi is a typical example. The interior building material for these buildings was mainly red cypress. Records show that they were built by the Japanese Mining Co. to house Japanese mine technicians and their families. To adjust to the sloping terrain, all the Japanese houses are neatly arranged on the slope. Horizontal dormitory buildings had vertical stone steps as the connecting path. There are four types of house: detached single dwelling houses, semi-detached, joined houses (3-4 homes in one building) and long houses. House area and type differed according to the rank of the employee in the company. Four joined house Japanese buildings are now rare in Taiwan. The Jinguashi example is thus a precious cultural asset.]

Haha air-raid shelter made to protect residents from kamikaze pilots. At the entrance to the building you get to watch a short history video followed by a guided tour around the residence. No flash photography is allowed though so pardon my under-exposed pics.

Imagine two Japanese masters from yesteryear playing Shogi (japanese chess)

Wow Black and White photos of the people previously living here! Due to the poor lighting, half way through the tour it started getting a bit eerie, as if I was walking through a "ghost" house. Fortunately the guide was yapping away loudly making the atmosphere less scary...

I remember my Granny used to have this type of cupboard in her pantry. In the old days there was no such thing as fridges, what you couldn't finish eating goes into the fly-screen equipped cupboard.

We then walked past the local Jinguashi police station. Wow look at the fancy architecture. Must be nice and boring to be an officer here.

More walking.. Part of the old mining railway tracks preserved for us to walk on :D

Jinguashi Gold-panning activity.

We then happily spent NT100 per person for a gold panning experience and souvenir to bring home.

Top floor for gold panning, ground floor houses the gold museum.

GOLD in chinese on this huge glass panel outside the museum. Looks like lots of students there on excursion.
Nice banyan tree next to the souvenir shop.

Sit on a small stool.

And the guide will give you a pan of sand to wash in the canal of water. Beware of Fool's Gold which looks like real gold but is not. Heck I couldn't tell what was what. As there are many sessions and many tourist lining up for this activity, you dont really get to pan for gold in your own sweet time. I felt this activity was quite rushed for a novice like me.

So in the end u get a cute little small glass jar with either specks of real gold or fool's gold.

More walking around. Big pump used for gold mining. Does that RR stand for Rolls-Royce company?

Lots of wildflowers and wild Poison berries. Yum...

Looks fancy but don't think this works. Did I forget to mention some of the fixtures like signboards were a bit old and worn?

Jinguashi Museum of Gold 

We then entered the gold museum. Yes entry is free here. But as usual no flash photography...
[The Museum of Gold is housed in the former offices of the Taiwan Metal Mining Corp. The first floor exhibitions include gold discovery journey, Benshan tunnels (1-9), ore seam display and old mining equipment, mining transport systems and cultural artifact display.]

Army men (finger-sized) toy depiction of the hard work mining for gold.

Haha mating crickets and crabs. All these made of GOLD.....

Ok this was the highlight of the trip. The biggest gold ingot in the world. Worth 373 million taiwanese dollars as per the live market price of gold displayed. If you can lift this piece of gold up you can take it home. There is a hole at the side of the display case for you to try lifting it. In case you can't do that, you can still fondle the GOLD and say "MY PRECIOUS!"

Certified 220.30kg of pure 999.9 quality gold.

Benshan Tunnel No 5 Experience Tour
Our next stop was to go into an actual mining tunnel...
[To realize the eco-museum ideas and give visitors an experience of being in an actual tunnel and a better understanding of the working conditions underground, in co-operation with Taiwan Sugar Corp, the old Benshan Tunnel No 5 was renovated and partly re-opened to the public as the tunnel experience area. Waxworks are used to show the process of ore extraction and how the miners worked in the old days.]

Tickets NT50 and disposable blue head cover for helmets we had to wear going into the Fifth Tunnel mines.

There is an entrance area with lots of antique mining equipment on display, including small trains and other machinery used for mining. This is also where they make sure you put your helmet on :D Safety FIRST!

You then walk outside to enter the Benshan fifth tunnel proper.

Nothing much inside the dimly lit tunnels except exhibits with information on the history of how workers did the mining. But you can feel that dark and dankness the miners felt whilst they were digging.

So wet and cold that this wooden support beam had mushrooms sprouting out.

Drug Dealers make employees wear underwear when they work to prevent them from stealing. Luckily for the workers here they could wear normal mining gear only getting a mini strip search at the end of a work day.

Another picturesque stretch of antique railways for mine carts to travel on.

Ah Chun Soft Tofu 阿春豆花
It was very very late afternoon by the time we finished all our activities. As we were quite hungry, we sat down at this 'dou hua' (silken tofu) dessert stall called Ah Chun Soft Tofu 阿春豆花 standing by itself next to the museum.

The soft tofu was served with brown sugar syrup that had been pre-boiled with ginger slices. Very strong ginger flavour complementing the sweet syrup and soft-soft tofu. Very very good! 5/5! This is definitely a must visit if you are in the area.

[ Continue reading Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 Jinguashi Surrounds ]

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