Day 6, Taipei
9th December 2010, Thursday
Some friends commented the sky lanterns here look like rubbish bins! Haha!
When arrived at Pingxi, we got smart and checked what time the next train would be here. It’s only for another 30 minutes! That’s too fast! Unless, we want to stay here for another 1 hour and a half for the next train. We ran out of time because we started the day late, so we decided to do a whirlwind visit at Pingxi town. It felt like we were participating in Amazing Race Asia! Clue – Go find the Bell of Peace and ring 3x for the next clue! Haha! For the life of me, I really didn’t know what has gotten into me that I actually hiked up the steep staircases to get to the Bell of Peace! We visited the temple as well.
Staircases to the Bell of Peace
On our way back to the station, we saw some sky lanterns on sale and decided to buy them instantly. As we were considering which color to choose, green is for money, yellow is for health, pink is for friendship, etc. We were bickering what to choose then the nice uncle manning the shop suddenly interrupted – “Well, I have a rainbow colored one!”
Nice uncle helping out with our sky lantern
“Say earlier mah!” we all shouted in unison. It was damn funny.
Sky Rocket Lantern!
We quickly wrote our wishes on the paper lantern. The uncle, being a little long winded, kept telling us that, if this is our first time flying a sky lantern, if we were not careful, we would burn it, so he decided to help us. We rushed him up the slope to fly the lantern. Tips of flying a sky lantern, ensure the sky lantern is well spread out before lighting it up and secure the steel structure at the bottom firmly. Wait till hot air filled up the sky lantern before letting go. Since we were in a hurry, the sky lantern cooperated too! It flew up to the sky like a hydrogen infused rocket! We raced to the station and manage to catch the train in time!
Our next stop is Shifen. I was joking with my friends – if Jiufen (9 points) is already so beautiful, I can’t wait to check out Shifen (10 points!). Shifen is indeed a pretty township. Here, we had 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare, so we decided to take it easy. As we walked towards the insides of the town, we were annoyed to find that, there were also sky lanterns here! So, I thought of our mindless rush towards setting up the sky lantern back in Pingxi, it was just ridiculous! So people, you can also set your sky lanterns here!
We were walking looking for the Shifen waterfall but it was some 30 minutes walk away from the town. So we decided not to go and loiter a bit at this small town. We tried some of their biscuits – curry paos, green bean and lotus and they were delicious! Or perhaps, we were too hungry.
Quiet, quaint town
We walked about this small town and found a quiet museum there. There was nobody except for an old lady manning the place. She asked us if we would want to take a ride at the oldest coal mining train or not. Since we didn’t have much time left, we declined. For a small fee of NT 200 per person, we can get a ride on the coal mining trains – minimum 2 pax. They will send a van to come get you for the ride. I think it’s open daily – but be there before 4 pm. The train ride duration is from 9.30 am to 5 pm only.
Dilapidated front door
After visiting Shifen, I was famished! This pleasant little trip took almost an entire day. We were heading back to Ruifang and found out that, we actually could board a bus to Jiufen from here! After getting off the Pingshi line, we went to buy our train tickets back to Taipei. We couldn’t get the ticket right from the ticketing counter (the counter only sells train tickets to Pingshi line), so we need to go down the stairs to a vending machine. So if you don’t have small change, you have to turn left and right again, go up the stairs and look for ticketing counter. It’s really silly! It was a lucky thing that we have almost 15 minutes’ time frame to do all these ridiculous things!
Raohe night market
We got on the train and decided to check out Raohe Night market. When we got town at the MRT station towards Wufenpu, then to Raohe, we walked by the TRA line and was cursing! We should have gotten down at Songshan’s station and walk to Raohe, instead of going downtown to Taipei, change train to the MRT stop towards Wufenpu! Haha! Last minute planning definitely does not have good consequences!
After dinner and a short walkabout Raohe and Wufenpu, we went back to our service apartment, feeling contented with the events of the day.