Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Jinguashi and Juifen

dont worry that not all mine
 filling my face in Keelung night market

you are here!
 japanese house entrance
inside the house

touching the gold

 entrance to the old street

view from the restaurant
Selina was working on the monday so we couldnt set off to Keelung until later in the afternoon, the weather had changed considerably, it has been sunny and very hot most of the time on this trip but now it was cooler and the rain had arrived when we got to Keelung.  We were staying at the Harbour View Hotel for a couple of nights which overlooked the port area of Keelung.  The city seemed quite old and scruffy and around the harbour it was really busy for traffic, the main bus and railway stations were situated here which makes it handy for visitors i guess and there were subways and overhead walkways for pedestrians which were essential, there seemed to be more taxis here than other places id been too, being a taxi driver myself it always fascinates me how these guys operate, i dont think id fancy just driving around all day touting at bus stops, pulling over everytime i saw a foreigner, even just standing having a fag on the street i had the taxis pipping at me, stopping in the middle of the road with no concern for any traffic behind them. I think id rather just sit in an office chatting and watching tv until the phone rang.    We had a walk around the night market sampled a few local delicasies then back to the hotel as the rain got heavier and heavier.   The next day the weather was the same the plan was to take the bus up to Jinguashi to the gold ecological park a museum park telling the story of the gold mining that used to be carried out in the area. The bus journey was over an hour up into the hills, you can get the bus from the harbour front in Keelung and they are pretty frequent, all the buses pass through the town of Juifen and then up to the ecological park, then turn round and come back again. We stopped in Jinguashi for a couple of hours and wandered about in the rain, the Japanese first opened the mine when they colonised Taiwan theres still some evidence of Japanese architecture and design looking at some of the buidings, you can see relics of the old mine and how it used to work, where the gold was refined, you can enter one of the mining tunnels and try and picture life as it was when the mine was open. Theres also a memorial for Allied prisoners of war who were made to work there in unbelievably atrocious conditions, they were sent to the areas where it was least favourable to work in 40c heat with little food and if they didnt work hard enough they were beaten with mining picks. From there we took the bus to Juifen a fascinating little place very poular with tourists. Juifen was once just a small village that thrived in the gold mining hey day, i can imagine this place gets really busy at weekends or holidays, everybody wants to walk up the old street a narrow alley full of shops and stalls that meanders up the side of the hill, the place was full of Japanese, Chinese and tourists from Hong Kong, we walked up to the top i had spied a stall that made peanut brittle and bought a big bag, at the top we stopped for lunch at a restaurant which clung to the side of the cliff, on a clear day the views would have been wonderful, but it was nice to sit there for an hour and relax and watch the buses trying to pass each other on the narrow winding road below.

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