Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jiu Fen 九份, Taiwan

At first when the bus started accending the sloppy road to Jiu Fen, I was thinking of something like Cameron Highlands. But somehow the place was not quite that, apart from the journey up was just merely 20min or so.

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Unlike Cameron Highlands nor Genting Highlands, all the existing land around the whole hill have been all built up. There isn't any place for much plantations around, nor jungle exist here really.

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Origin of Jiu Fen has been traced up to during the Japanese occupation, where by the nameless hill was occupied with 9 workers sent by some big time boss to work up there. Seeing the road up is rather tedious, the boss decided to let just one of the guy to regularly come down and get supplies. And each time when he came, 9 portion of groceries and stuffs were prepared for the 9 workers up there -- Hence the name Jiu Fen 九份 (Nine Portion).

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But for now, there is something of this vacation hilltop, which reminds me the narrow alleys in old city within Kyoto, Japan. Similarly, they packed little snacks in fanciful boxes and ribbons, selling variously knick-knacks as souvenirs. The main attraction is this small little alley, that leads about 1km until the end point, which look out to the hill side and sea side of Jiu Fen.

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One of the must try around here is the glutinous rice ball mashed with various tuber stuffs, e.g. Tapioca, Yam, and this purple color tapioca that most people here called 山药 (Mountain herb). You can loaded them in hot or cold, with either ginger tea, soya milk, almond milk, etc.

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This uncle is the owner here, though looking very serious, but in actual he is quite interesting. While we were sitting down munching away, he told the passerby to come stop by his shop for a bowl as well by saying "Gimme 35 Yuan, and I will warm you heart with this bowl of dessert on this cold morning." My dad and I was giggling away when we heard him.

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It first started with this tapioca rice ball dessert around here, slowly then it evolves into things like fish ball soup as well. I find it too strange to eat seafood related stuffs on top of the mountain. Someone tried them and say the fish balls can be quite pricey and didn't taste that fantastic.

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And we walked till the end, the dad stumbled onto this hidden tea house that look very old yet well preserved. Reminiscence of the early China republic era maybe?

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My dad insisted that he will have a cuppa there though at that time we have merely 15min less. Never in my life I've got to drink like a cow, with such a delicate pick on hand. Sigh... Further more we've got to squeeze time to take some nice pictures around here as well.

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The biggest surprise came when he went to get the bill. Apparently we got charge as per person, even though we all drank from the same teapot and from the same small bag of leaves supplied to us. At the end it was like 1200 Yuan or so (RM120). WHOAH!!! I guess the the deco is part of the charges here...

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When we were about to leave, the rain drizzles again. All of us were quite worried about the rumoured typhoon coming by, especially it is just our 2nd day here in Taiwan today. But I guess even though it rains like cats and dogs, we will just have to continue our journey as planned.

Next : Yeh Liu Geological Park 野柳地质公园 (due - when I feel like it :P)

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