Sunday, 16 December 2012

travel: Taiwan 2012 Day 2: Jiufen, Jinguashi, Yilan,

It was a bit foggy and cloudy this morning in Jiufen, but enough light to see a completely different view from last night of the B&B/Minsu we were staying at, and extra details of our Blossom room.

Morning view of our room's balcony

Breakfast was included in the fare and was served from 7.30 onwards. It was a simple Western style breakfast with sandwich, some fruit, and tea/coffee. It was served at the reception area, which was absolutely gorgeous and tastefully decorated with handmade touches.

main breakfast area

Unassuming front of Sunny Room B&B
The mascots of Sunny Room

Then we said goodbye to the beautiful little B&B and went on our way to Jiufen, a small mountain town used to be famous for gold mining. Nowadays, it is fully packed with tourists. We arrived at around 9.30, and there was already quite a crowd, though it was nothing compared to around lunch time when we left the area. 
There were a lot of food vendors, and most of them provided free samples to taste. Needless to say, we tried a bit of everything as much as we could force our stomach to digest.

After lots of tasting, James took us to eat some taro balls dessert. The shopfront was very unassuming, but it led to its eating area, where patrons ate their desserts overlooking more of the beautiful view of Jiufen

Then we walked some more to digest a bit of the food we had eaten. Jiufen is a charming little town and there are a lot of vantage points for beautiful pictures, inside the old street or outside for more nature/mountain view.

Then off to Jiufen Tea House, an old traditional tea house. Price was a bit steep for a good tea and a few snacks (we paid TWD 1270 in total), but it was impossible to finish all of the given tea leaves, so patrons could actually bring the leftover tea leaves (provided in a bag) away.

indoor area of Jiufen Tea House

And what to do when you are fully relaxed after sipping tea? Eat some more of course... . 

After our bouts of last eating in Jiufen, suddenly the mist came rolling in, and the area became mystically enveloped in blur. Looking at the chaotic long queue that was the bus stop leaving Jiufen, I am glad that we decided to engage RoundTaiwanRound's service to take us around Taiwan. It is definitely convenient and comfortable.

Next stop: Jinguashi, where there is a gold museum. However James told us that Jinguashi was more well known for copper, whilst Jiufen is true for gold and Houtong for coal.

Nothing much to do, except feeling envious and drooling on the big gold ingot displayed in the museum (which is free to visit, btw), and then entered one of the mines (need to pay TWD50 per adult) where you could learn a bit of the miners' way of life and work.

After the, err,.. hard day at the mine, 1/2heart decided to buy the miner's lunch box (TWD220) for his hard work. How cute is this lunch box? For the price, you get to keep the container and the chopsticks (as well as the fabric wrap).

And so, our Jinguashi trip came to the end, and we trodded on to visiting golden waterfall - named because of the color. The water itself contain a lot of iron and mineral washed by rainfall and stream from the top of the mountains, and so therefore quite poisonous if consumed.

Then a brief view of the now empty and non-operational Shuinandong Smelter. It was already dark when we arrived to take this shot, which makes the view even creepier. You cannot pay me to stay for one night there in the abandoned smelter. Yikes.

After that, we went to Yilan, where we headed to the restaurant that I asked James to book on our behalf - supposedly very famous for its duck. 

The restaurant is located in the same building of Silks Place Hotel in Yilan. And it is most famous for its Cherry Valley Duck. Well if every table ordered the duck, it must be a specialty dish, right? 
We opted for the duck to be cooked 5 ways, completely utilizing each and every part of the duck. 

The first course was the usual peking duck fanfare, but the wrap here was special, as it was made using some spring onions (another Yilan specialty).

The skin was crispy, the wrap was of the right consistency, and the next course to come - the duck sushi - completely sent me to food heaven. The crispy duck skin with layer of fat underneath, and a bit of melted cheese on top of sushi rice. What a weird combination, but damn it was one of the finest taste I have ever had

Nothing to shout about for the rest of the course though...  .

The duck served 5 ways costs TWD2688. Be aware of the 10% service surcharge on top.

Then James took us to our accommodation for tonight in Yilan: River Forest B&B

Room Type: Bubble
Cost: TWD 4300 (includes breakfast. Unfortunately they don't have wi-fi inside the room. Though they said that there is wi-fi in the common area and reception, and I did not really bother to check it out as we already have our own hotspot. Refer to day 1 for more info on how to obtain a prepaid card for this).

Again, I pat myself in the back for choosing this place :D Let the pictures roll on:

The room is built over a pond, so Bubble room has a half-moon shaped viewing glass on the floor. It's too dark to see any fish underneath though, so I hope I can post better pictures tomorrow of the surroundings.