Getting to Shifen and Jiufen

Date of Visit: 4 Nov 2017

These places make for a good day trip out of the main city area. If you’re the free-and-easy type, keep this in mind: Jiufen (九份) and Shifen (十分) are not connected by any public transport. You’ll have to go through Ruifang (瑞芳) Station. So picture it as Jiufen <-> Ruifang <-> Shifen. The only way you can travel directly between these two towns is by car/ taxi. Because of this inconvenience, travel times have to be planned wisely. My advice is to start as early as possible.

You can check out the other post for a glimpse of what these two towns look like. Continue reading

Shifen & Jiufen, Taiwan

Date of Visit: 4 Nov 2017

The old towns of Shifen (十分老街) and Jiufen (九份老街) are extremely popular tourist attractions.  Shifen’s roaring waterfalls and old railway line draw in visitors – both local and overseas – to this movie set to release the famous sky lanterns. Jiufen and its iconic charming red lanterns served as the inspiration for the award-winning Japanese animation Spirited Away (I didn’t know about this when I visited and haven’t got around to watching yet).

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My First Campervan Experience

I had never driven a vehicle larger than a car and the last time I went camping was more than a decade ago. I knew I could get through it, but I was pretty skeptical about sleeping in a metal container without the creature comforts of a hotel room for 2 weeks in New Zealand. I took up the challenge anyway and surprised myself when I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to miss the experience that much. There were times during the trip I forgot we were even in a campervan.

I got distracted by all of this:

Mirror Lake

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Yang Ming Shan, Taiwan

Date of Visit: 3 Nov 2017

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Yang Ming Shan National Park (YMS) is located just on the outskirts of Taipei City, which means you won’t have to spend hours getting here on a day trip. It covers a large area and includes numerous hiking trails and attractions in and around the park. The weather there, as with most mountainous areas, can be a little unpredictable – showers one minute, blistering sun the next. It gets slightly chilly too, so pack an umbrella and jacket, put on proper walking shoes, and be prepared for the sudden downpour.

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Alishan Forest Railway Train (Ticket Booking Guide)

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The Alishan Forest Railway Train is extremely popular, and is almost always at full capacity regardless of the season.

Tickets can be purchased 12 days in advance for walk-ins at any Taiwan TRA station. Unless you live or work or visit Taiwan frequently, your only other option is to book the tickets online 15 days in advance at the company’s website. Unfortunately, the system is only available in Chinese.

You’ll find a guide here on how to go about securing your seats.

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Alishan, Taiwan

Date of Visit: 6 – 7 Nov 2017

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Alishan is THE place to go to see a magical sunrise in Taiwan. Catching the sunrise is a hit-and-miss thing and we were blessed to catch it in all its glory. The weather is unpredictable in a mountainous region like Alishan so even if you don’t manage to catch the sunrise, don’t be disheartened because this place is beautiful nonetheless.

The closest city to Alishan is Chiayi, southwest Taiwan. There are various methods of getting to and from Alishan, but here’s the one I took. I’d recommend it as it worked out to be well-paced to explore the area and most importantly, to catch the sunrise.

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