Two days in Jiufen passed in just a blink of an eye. Jiufen, in my opinion, is a town full of character; serene in the morning and bustling in the day. It was a pity that the weather had not been kind to us during our time in Jiufen and the rain continued on our third, which was also the last day, at Jiufen. ;-(
Our itinerary for the day was to visit Jinguashi in the morning before we bid farewell to Jiufen and continued our journey to Sun Moon Lake. Getting to Jinguashi from Jiufen is really easy. I believe most, if not all, buses from Jiufen take you to Jinguashi. Just look out for buses with destination as “Jinguashi” and you should be there in less than ten minutes.
Jinguashi was once a prosperous mining town during the Japanese occupation era (1895-1945) and now that the resources are depleted, a lot of the original structures and tools are preserved only to serve as a form of education to Taiwan’s rich mining history. During the World War II (1942-1945), Jinguashi was also the campsite for Prisoners-of-War (POWs) where these POWs (mostly as miners) were made to labour under harsh conditions. The numerous Japanese-style buildings in Jinguashi, as well as the Japanese tea-houses in Jiufen, are visible traces of Japanese administration and influence on Taiwan.
As you can see from the map above, the park is actually quite big and similar to Jiufen, Jinguashi sits on top of Mount Keelung (基隆山). Thus, do be prepared to walk and going up the steps can be tiring. Luckily, there are ample benches and eateries in the park itself and should you be tired, there is no lacking in resting places.
There are many interesting places in the park and you should allocate at least half a day if you do intend to explore the area in a leisure pace. For instance, there is a hike up the hills to an old Shinto temple (or rather ruins) and the view at the top is supposed to be spectacular; overlooking Mount Keelung and Teapot Mountain (無耳茶壺山). Regretably due to the bad weather, we didn’t hike up to the top as the track was slippery. Nevertheless, we still managed to visit quite a lot of attractions in two hours. In my opinion, the gold museum and the Benshan Fifth Tunnel (本山五坑) are the most interesting.
The first attraction, which is located nearest to the ticketing office, is the “Four Joined of Japanese-Style Residence” (四連棟); the residence for the Japanese owners of the mines then. The self-guided tour at this house starts with a video show of the history of the building and how it was re-constructed, including the air-raid shelters within the building. There are also numerous displays of a typical Japanese homehold. While there are a lot of focus on the intricacies on the construction of the building, I couldn’t really appreciate them. The various displays of Japanese tatami, tea-sets, etc are more educational for the kids, in my opinion.
The highlight of Jinguashi has to be this – the 220kg pure gold brick at the second floor of the Gold Museum (黃金館) ! Not only are you going to see the world largest (I think) gold brick, you will also get the chance to touch it. Based on the gold price of about USD$1,600 per oz at the time of our visit, this gold brick is worth a whopping USD$12Mil ! If you like more, you can also try gold panning on the third floor for a fee (NT$100). Since we had already tried this before, we saved the NT$100. ^_^
Just beside the Gold Museum is an abandoned mine tunnel, the Benshan Fifth Tunnel (本山五坑), where you could learn more about the lives and activities of a miner. This activity is not free though. For NT$50 to walk through an actual mine, I think it’s worth it.
There are actually a lot of places in my itinerary that I would love to go in Jinguashi (gold waterfall, yin yang sea, the POW camp, Cyuanji Temple and many more) … Unfortunately, it was almost time for us to catch the High Speed Rail (HSR) to our next destination – Sun Moon Lake (日月潭). I shall leave these for my next trip to Jiufen !
Useful Information – Jinguashi (金瓜石):
- Weekdays: 09:30-17:00, closed on the first Monday of every month.
- Weekends: 09:30-18:00
- Bus from Jiufen: Take a bus from the bus stop in front of the pavilion, heading away from Ruifang train station. Check that the bus is heading towards “Jinguashi (金瓜石)”. The sign will be prominently displayed at the front of the bus. If in doubt, check with their friendly bus drivers. Bus fare is payable using the EasyCard or cash. I can’t recall the fare amount – I think it’s NT$22.
- Bus from Taipei: Go to bus stop at Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT station, exit 1. Look out for a bus from Keelung Bus Company heading heading towards “Jinguashi (金瓜石)”. The sign will be prominently displayed at the front of the bus. If in doubt, check with their friendly bus drivers. Bus fare is payable using the EasyCard or cash. I think the fare is about NT$100.