Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Listen to the Sea

It took only a few days before we were left wondering exactly what it was that drew hordes of tourists here. Surely they didn't decamp over here in busloads just for a taste of the tangy beef noodles, scrumptious though they may be? In fact Charming Calvin felt quite betrayed by the seeming misrepresentation of the city by his erstwhile friends.

Then again perhaps it was only the dull grey monotony of the capital city that had us fooled. Perhaps we were wrong about the Taipei but surely the smaller towns around would live up to their sterling reputation!

Since heading towards the mountainous interior didn't suit any of our temperaments, we decided to concede a little by making a day trip to Jiufen 九份 situated up in the hills not very far away from where we were. Hailed as a lovely picturesque mountainous village with old world shops and teahouses that wouldn't look out of place in a Chinese period drama, the place even served as the real world inspiration for the stunning animated film Spirited Away. How could I possibly resist! 

As usual kudos to the best taxis anywhere in the world - took barely a second to flag them down - and just another second for them to agree to the hour-long journey with barely any bargaining or bickering. 

Would have to say that Jiufen has lovely scenery. Precariously perched on the steep slopes of a hill overlooking the tranquil bay, I would say the original inhabitants - apparently all nine families hence the name - knew how to pick the perfect spot to call home. Even with the endless stone steps - thankfully we were going down, it was easy enough to navigate the modest village filled with teahouses, boutiques and food stalls, all charmingly lit up with the soft glow of dozens of vermillion lanterns.

And like any other city in Asia, obviously overshadowed by twice the number of notices and signs in Chinese script!

You would almost expect bushy-browed gentlemen with queues dressed in changshan strolling out of the quaint teahouses with giggling courtesans. Or even fierce gangsters flying out of the shuttered wooden windows above.

Eddie Peng fending off the bad guys to keep the city safe

Unfortunately no shirtless hunks like that - even bleeding profusely - came around the corner though. That would have definitely made my day.

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