Tuesday, November 13

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 Shifen Sky Lanterns

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 Shifen Sky Lanterns
[ continued from Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 Jinguashi Surrounds ]

In order to get to Shifen from Jinguashi, we took a direct bus from Jinguashi back downhill to Ruifang train station. From there we then had to take a train along the Pingxi line to Shifen.

Ruifang Train Station
Outside Ruifang Train Station
Like the Japanese, Taiwanese are very considerate, as you can see from this elderly man sitting outside the train station and wearing a mouth cover as he was having a cold.

We saw an old lady in a shop near the train station cleaning and peeling some roots. Looked like burdock roots. She was quite friendly and allowed me to photograph her and even chatted a little with us in Taiwanese Hokkien.

Fu Ge Beef Noodles(福哥牛肉面)

Fu Ge Beef Noodles(福哥牛肉面)

Time for dinner and we stopped by this small corner shop/stall, Fu Ge Beef Noodles(福哥牛肉面)near to the Ruifang train station.

Beef Noodles
Fu Ge Beef Noodle
A big hearty bowl of beef noodles was just what we needed. A standard bowl consists of large chunks of beef and beef tendon cooked for hours. Very very soft and tender. I got greedy and upsized to a large bowl which frankly was too much and made me feel really stuffed.

A side dish of Century Egg and braised hard tofu is a must. Wife thought this was the best century egg she had ever had, with its soft and runny yolk, which you don't get in other common century eggs. I thought it was good but I am generally used to having century eggs with slices of preserved ginger.

Train to Shifen

Dinner done, we took the night train to Shifen on the old Pinxi line. Not too crowded at this time of the day. The trains running along this line are not very frequent. Make sure you check the timing when you plan your trip here. There is also a day pass available but we didn't get it this time as we were planning on only visiting Shifen due to lack of time.

[ The Pingxi Line (平溪線) is a 12.9 km long, single-track branch of the Yilan Line of the Taiwan Railway Administration. The railroad was originally built to transport coal. It was completed in July 1921. Stops from Ruifang along this line include : Sandiaoling(三貂嶺) / Dahua(大華) / Shifen(十分) / Wanggu(望古) / Lingjiao(嶺腳) / Pingxi(平溪) / Jingtong(菁桐) ]

(I will be updating my blog with a long 6 hour multi-waterfall hike in 2012 which begins from Sandiaoling(三貂嶺) and ends at Shifen. So be sure to check back in the near future.)

Old coal/ore train restored and parked at the Shifen station for tourist to marvel at.

[ The area around Shifen used to be known as Shifenliao. It boasts the largest and the only double-platform station on the Pingxi Line. Here you will see trains chug along a railway that is bordered by houses. The proximity to the tracks is a symbol of how closely connected the townspeople’s lives are to the railway, a characteristic unique to Shifen. ]

This was one of the first shops we had a look at upon arriving at Shifen station. The owner managed to get his hands on the mailbox from the old days.

If you miss home you can write a postcard and mail it at this shop. They even provide solid wooden postcards from the olden days. See those pieces of bamboo hanging from the roof? those are from visitors who have handwritten messages of good will.

Hello Mr. Postman :D

It says this is the "Original Hundred Surnames of Taiwan" Well if you have a chinese surname you can get a keychain made of quality wood, with your surname on it.

Some hobbycraft action. It seems like a favourite past time of taiwanese chidren to bring along a notebook and get a picture chop of whatever place they have visited. These chops are available at most train stations as well.

Shifen Sky Lanterns @ Shifen Old Street

[Although it has neither the traditional buildings found on Pingxi Old Street nor the wave of nostalgia of Jingtong Old Street, the Shifen Old Street showcases the one and only scene of “trains passing right in front of residents’ doors” in Taiwan. Houses and shops are separated from the railway tracks only by a narrow old street without the protection of high fences or railings. As a result, Shifen is a Mecca for railway enthusiasts and photography aficionados.] In my opinion, Shi fen is THE place to release lanterns.

Shifen Sky Lanterns
Shifen Sky Lantern Shop

Oh this was what we came for! We had decided on Shifen as we thought Pingxi, which is the most famous sky lantern town, might be crowded with tourists.

If you are interested, once a year they have a massive sky lantern festival on the 15th Feb. of the lunar calendar. This day officially marks the end of roughly a two-week period of new year celebrations, and as the festival coincides with the first full moon of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is when they release masses of sky lanterns at the same time. It would probably be the most fun time for releasing sky lanterns in Shi fen or Pinxi, espcially if you enjoy the crowds and company.

Shifen Sky Lantern Combo
Depending on what you would like to wish for you can get 2 colours or 4 colours. We chose a Red and White sky lantern for Health, Safety and a bright future. NT120 The lady owner at this store was very nice and even took many photos/videos for us.

Our Shifen Sky Lantern

The owner help us mount our lantern and provided us with a chinese calligraphy brush and ink to write well wishes on our Sky Lantern before releasing it.

The fun thing about releasing sky lanterns here was that we got to do it in the middle of the train tracks! Releasing sky lanterns is fun in itself but doing it at the train tracks just adds another level of fun :D The train passes through the village about once an hour so if you go back on the tracks right after it passes like we did, you should be good for a while.

Boy preparing sky lantern

There was a little boy who prepared the fuel material for burning in the lantern. It was a stack of incense paper we normally use to burn as offerings for the deceased. 

Shifen Sky Lantern fired up
He seemed very experienced, soon the lantern was lighted. All ready for lift off !! Higher and higher it rose until it became a speck of light in the darkness of the night.

Shifen Mini sky lantern shop

On our way back we stopped by this shop selling souvenir sky lanterns. The owner is an artist who buys the paper material then cuts out and makes all these lanterns by hand.

Shifen mini sky lanterns
NT 100 for a glow in the dark lantern or NT50 for a normal small little lantern. These miniature sky lanterns do make cute little gifts.

Haha talked to the owner quite a bit as it was a quiet night. He shows us his other hobby which is doing magic tricks. No actually the bag is for you to test out his glow-in-the-dark sky sky lanterns.

Shifen train station master

Whistle for the last train! Train master making sure all the tourists get on safe.

Haha end of Day 3 or so we thought...

[Continue reading Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 3 Jiufen at Night]

Post a Comment

If you feel my blog post was interesting or need more information, please feel free to comment.

Plankton Hits