Where to go, what to see in Taiwan

3 09 2007

As I finish up reading all the guidebooks I bought for Taiwan (which, I know is overboard for one trip but this is my hobby), I keep wishing we could stay a few more days so that we can see more of Taiwan. Unfortunately, due to limitations to my vacation time, we can only go for about 1.5 weeks. I plan on going back again, as a lot of my relatives still live in Taiwan, but it will be several years at least.

Here are the places we are planning to visit in Taiwan:

Taipei – 2.5 to 3 days
Jiufen/Jingguashi – 1 day
Hualien/Taroko Gorge – 1 day
Lukang – 0.5 day
Kaohsiung – rest of trip
Night Markets

TAIPEI – Longshan Temple and the surrounding Wanhua district, National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, Ximending

Taipei 101
Photocredit: Alton Thompson under GNU

Taipei 101

Longshan Temple
Photocredit: de:Benutzer:HJS65 under GNU

Longshan Temple

Ximending, Taiwan’s answer to Shibuya (Tokyo, Japan)
Photocredit: Diego Trazzi under GNU

Ximending at Night

JIUFEN and JINGGUASHI

Jiufen/Chiufen
Photocredit: This image has been released into the public domain by its creator, Kwb.

Jiufen

HUALIEN and TAROKO GORGE
Photocredit: Allen Timothy Chang under GNU

Taroko Gorge

Todd did a great post on his visit to Hualien last year, with some gorgeous pictures.

LUKANG
Photocredit: Flora / Prattflora

Matzu Temple

Matzu Temple 2

Check out Craig’s beautiful 3 part photo series on Lugang.

Kaohsiung – Visiting family, shopping, Ai He

Liu He Night Market
Photocredit: Henry Trotter, 2003

Liuho Night Market

Night Markets – In Kaoshiung, we are definitely going to Liu He 2nd Street Night Market. In Taipei, we are probably going to Shilin Night Market and the one next to Longshan Temple since we will be there already. I want to have the famous Ai Yu (Ay Yuh). I don’t know which night market is the best one in Taipei.

Readers, which night market is your favorite?

Holly has an interesting post about Shida’s night market this week.

We have figured out that we need to eat every two hours in order to try all the food that I want. I know it will be a challenge, but I am willing to sacrifice myself to do that. On Prince Roy‘s recommendation, I will NOT try the egg drop corn soup from McDonald’s, as cool as it sounds that McD’s actually sells this soup.





Spirited Away to Jiufen

8 08 2007

It’s not secret that I am a big Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki fan. I grew up watching such classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Gauche the Cellist in Japanese with Chinese subtitles (meaning I couldn’t understand a word), so I appreciated the art of Studio Ghibli before I understood the storylines. My interest grew when I finally got my hands on Japanese versions with English subtitles.

Studio Ghibli logo

How can anyone not fall for such a cute and furry character?

So imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that Jiufen, a village located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, was one of the inspirations for the village in Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi). Apparently Mr. Miyasaki visited the little village on a mountain and was charmed by it. There is even a teahouse set in the mountain that features masks similar to the ambiguous black robed spirit (No Face) with a mask in the movie.

Here’s a movie poster for Spirited Away:

Spirited Away Movie Poster

Here is a picture of Jiufen at night.

Jiufen

What do you think?

According to Wikipedia, Jiufen was a gold mining town that reached its peak under the time of Japanese rule in Taiwan. After the gold was exhausted, interest in this town declined significantly. Since the town was largely forgotten except by those living there, it is a well preserved example of a mountain town under Japanese colonization. The town was “rediscovered” as a tourist destination after it was featured in a movie called “City of Sadness” that was released in 1989.

We are planning to visit Jiufen along with Lukang, another preserved historic village, on our Taiwan visit. I’m not just visiting it for the Studio Ghibli tie-in, don’t worry. It is supposed to be a very quaint town with lots of specialty foods set in a beautiful mountain overlooking the ocean. I will report back with my thoughts after I see it with my own eyes!








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