March 31, 2010
Chiufen (Nine Portions) Taiwan
In spite of its being a very "movie studio like setting" today - the quaint mining town still has some of its old mining atmosphere. It gives the tourists a lot of opportunities to take photographs and taste the snacks sold in the two main streets .
This is the guide post in four languages...Jishan Street is a must visit street.
Branching from the Jishan street are many alleys like this : alley going uphill would be from the seaward side and an alley going down hill would be going towards the sea. Very photographic.
Here's another alley going uphill.
Escargots being BBQed- TWN100 for three...you get them cut up in you eat from a paper cup.
The misty atmosphere and a view from one of the alleys give you an insight to the past : a church and a temple on two sides of a hill facing each other...but both looking up towards heaven.Both were started in the 1890's when gold was discovered here.
Nine families started their lives here and they used to buy provisions from the boats. Each time they travelled to the coast (which was by foot then) they would buy nine portions. Thus the name in Chinese : 9 portions (9 fen).
At the peak of gold mining in 1900's this place was called Mini Shanghai.
Today it has been made famous by movies like City of Sadness directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, and the Japanese animation movie, Spirit Away by Hayao Miyazaki used Chiufen as a model of the story background.
Today bus loads of tourists will descend on Chiufen to see its narrow Japanese styled streets lined with teahouses and souvenirs and snacks shops. And I would not mind going back that for a second visit - this time taking a whole day going over all the nooks and corners and even trying to go down to the sea and re-live those days when housewives trekked downhill to get nine portions of provisions!
(more photos later when the Internet is faster....we are facing some problems lately....)