Believe it or not, we were extremely lucky to have made it to the coal mine museum. As mentioned in the earlier post, our first stop at Shifen was to visit the Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布) and on the way, we came across a house that looked like the entrance to Taiwan Coal Mine Museum. However, it was locked and there wasn’t anybody manning the house. It was about 2pm then. Since time was not on our side, we didn’t want to waste too much time and thus we moved on towards the waterfall. Then on our way back from the waterfall, we walked past the same house again and it was still deserted. It was about 3.45pm then and the last admission to the museum is 4pm. At this point in time, we started panicking as my children would really love to take the coal train ride at the museum. :-(
Feeling dejected, we were about to give up when one of us recalled seeing a road sign to the museum near the train station. We decided to give it a last try and we followed the direction of the sign. About 5 minutes into the walk, we could sense that something was not right. First of all, the road was narrow and there was no cars on that road, except for heavy vehicles. It seemed to us that the road was leading to some construction sites. Secondly, the road was uphill all the way and it was definitely not an easy route for walking. After some ten minutes of walking, we were about to give up when a woman came down the road in a scooter. She saw us (a group of eight people) walking up the slope and suspected that we were not locals. It turned out that she works in the museum and she could arrange for a courtesy van to pick us up. That was definitely a pleasant surprise as most of us were already dead tired by then. We almost couldn’t believe it that the van had to drive up the hill for at least another 5 minutes before we reached the museum. If we had walked up the hill, I think it would probably take us at least 30 minutes and that’s assuming we didn’t give up. LOL.
It was later that I realized the first house that we saw at the foot of the hill is actually the ticketing office of the museum and the courtesy van is always available to bring tourists to the museum, a privately run museum setup to educate tourists on Taiwan’s rich coal mining history. I have no idea why it was deserted when we were there on 2 occasions (2.45pm and 3.45pm). ;-)
The Taiwan Coal Mine Museum sits on a retired coal mine and most of the facilities are quite well-preserved. The admission charge includes a coal train ride, a 20 minute video (in Mandarin) and a real-life experience guided tour through a coal mine tunnel. I learnt a lot from this experience and this is one of the best museum tours I have ever attended. Highly recommended!
The coal mine above is no longer accessible for safety reasons. Instead, the guide brought us into another tunnel for the guided tour.
By the time we completed the tour (around 5.20pm), the sky was already dark. But that wasn’t a problem. In fact, it was perfect for our next programme – Sky Lantern. ;-)
Useful Information – Taiwan Coal Mine Museum:
- 09:00-17:00 daily.
- Closed on Mondays
- Last admission at 16:00 hrs.
- Warning!!! This is not within walking distance from the (Shifen) train station. Read the blog above for more details.
- NT$200 per person, inclusive of the coal mine train ride