Taiwan: Taipei Pingxi Line Tour #4 – Pingxi

Travel Period : 30th Oct – 6th Nov 2012

{ Previous Post:  Taiwan: Taipei Pingxi Line Tour #3 – Shifen Waterfall }

Day 5 Morning to Afternoon Itinerary :

  • Taipei Railway Station to Ruifang (瑞芳) on PingXi 平溪 line–>>
  • Houtong (侯硐)
  • Shifen (十分) –>>
  • Pingxi (平溪) –>>
How We Got There :
Took Metro from Shuanglien Metro where we were located to Taipei Railway Station // Took train from Taipei TRA station to Ruifang TRA station // Transfer to TRA Pingxi Line with a short walk through a tunnel // Took Train To Houtong Station // To Shifen Station // To Pingxi Station.

[ Read about the Previous Station We Visited -#1 Houtong. #2 – Shifen Old Town, #3- Shifen Waterfall ]

 Pingxi Old Town 平溪

The train was still very crowded when we boarded it, but we managed to find a single seat at one end of the train. I then took the seat with Dar sitting on my lap. Cat was standing further away as she couldn’t pass through the squeezing crowd.

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When we arrived at the Pingxi Station, I was confused as I had dozed off a bit during the journey. Fortunately some female passengers on the train were helpful to confirm that we had reached the station and quickly helped to make way for us so that Dar and I could alight from the train in time.

Pingxi Old Town was another venue bustling with activities, with shops lined up beside the railway tracks and visitors releasing their sky lanterns on them. Most of the shop sold delicious snacks and had long queues. It was so crowded that we could only walk slowly through on the narrow pathway beside the railway tracks.

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People on the tracks when there was no train

 

The sun was setting...
The sun was setting…

We ended up having to walk right beside the tracks, with just a little red blockage, while pushing Dar in a stroller because he was dozing off after one whole day.

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Train coming in the opposite direction…

Cat: Suddenly, a train came in from the opposite direction. Everybody started jumping off the track and running to the sides. With a loud warning horn, the train gushed right beside us with an extremely strong breeze of air. It was the closest we had been to a moving train. Even Dar was shocked by the force of it and quickly sat up. What an experience!

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Woke up by the strong wind…tired boy after a long day
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The sign said that anyone walking on the tracks would be fined a sum of money between NT200 and NT2000 dollars, but everybody just ignored the  ‘law’.

After the train left, people continued to go onto the tracks even though there was an obvious sign there telling them not to. A lot of people were excited about walking on the railway track and many kept taking pictures. We also took a few pictures ourselves once the train was parked at the station and we safely knew there would not be one so soon.

As we walked, we noticed a shop selling grilled sausages. The aroma was so inviting that we decided to buy one to try. We were amused by a dog waiting outside the shop looking intently at the owner grilling them, hoping they would give him one too. It took a while to queue but was quite delicious.

We found it quite comical that the dog was sitting and waiting patiently in the 'queue'.
We found it quite interesting that the dog was sitting and waiting patiently in the ‘queue’.
The fragrant smell caused us to stop and buy one...
The fragrant smell caused us to stop and buy one…

There wasn’t really much for us to see as it wasn’t too different from Shifen Old Town.

We decided whether to go buy a sky lantern and write our wishes on it before releasing it to the sky, since this was one of the must-do activities there. Looking at the sleeping Dar in his stroller however, we weren’t keen of the idea since one of the reasons why we wanted to release the sky lantern was to let him experience it as well. It kind of defeated the purpose if he couldn’t join in the fun with us.

Thus, we just stood there observing the people writing their wishes while we ate the sausage and just enjoy the atmosphere.

He drew his dog on the sky lantern...
He drew his dog on the sky lantern…

Then, we decided to walk down the very steep road towards a connecting bridge. It was featured in the movie, ‘那些年,我们一起追的女孩‘. (A Taiwanese Romance Film) so we were  curious how it looked in real life.

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Very steep road down..small shops (mostly sold snacks) along the way.

This was the bridge we stood on which was in the film where the couple released the lantern into the sky after writing their wishes.

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As we glanced at the railway track, people were still walking and taking pictures on it. Nobody would really released their lantern here though, at this private place far from the shops, because it’s not an easy task to release and usually they would need the help of the shop owner.

The sky was amazingly filled with nice clouds and we stood there admiring the sky lanterns released into the sky. It would surely be very nice at night.

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Long ago, the remote villages in Pingxi were prone to attacks from bandits. Sky lanterns were used to signal restored safety so that residents who took refuge elsewhere would know it was safe to return home. As a result, sky lanterns are also known as “safety lanterns” or “prayer lanterns.

Read more here on Pingxi and other stations.

We would have like to view the release of sky lanterns at night and even proceed on to Jingtong (the last stop on the Pingxi Line), a very nostalgic railway station but we had plans to go Taipei 101 with our limited days here touring Taiwan. Therefore, we had to give it a miss.

Also, it would be very crowded later if we want to go back together with the hoards of people coming from the first few stations. They always end up pooling in Pingxi area as a last stop.

We strolled Dar back slowly up the steep slope and waited patiently at the station for the train to arrive. They come every 1 hr and may not be exactly on time as in the schedule. One of the reasons why we had wanted to come to Pingxi Old Town was to avoid a crowded train ride on our way back to Ruifang, since Pingxi Station was further down the line than Shifen.

[CAT ]: Alas, the train was really too crowded on a weekend so Dar had no choice but to stand with us because nobody was willing to give up their precious seat. There was also no space to open the stroller for him to sit because we barely had space to stand. There was also a few children standing so Dar was not the only one. Therefore, it’s not true that in Taiwan, people are always willing to give up their seats to children. At least, we encountered many who didn’t on this very crowded day. On the metro, it was easy for them to give up their seats because they reach the station very fast but for this particular line, the journey is going to take very long and this is the only train at that particular time. Dar didn’t complain and just stood looking out through the window as we passed station after station.We found him really admirable and was glad he enjoyed it. It’s all because he loves trains and riding on trains so much that we decided to make this tour part of our itinerary when we planned.

With that, we ended our Pingxi Railway Tour and had a fulfilling day.

Upon reaching Ruifang Station 40 minutes later, we decided not to take the train back to Taipei Railway Station, since it would most likely be a standing train ride throughout. We thus headed out of the train station where many taxis were waiting outside. There was a signboard indicating the taxi pricing to some of the popular destinations (taxis at Ruifang area do not run by meter) to prevent taxi drivers from overcharging.

Our next destination was Taipei 101 so we flagged a taxi and was quoted a price of NT$1000 (abt SGD$42). We took it and headed back into Taipei City Area.

  • More Information on the Different Areas (In Chinese) : Read here

{ Next Post : Observing the City in Taipei 101 }

  1. Alyson May 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Your website is really helpful and interesting to read. I managed to figure out how to get to places by reading of your journey. Thank you!

    1. Cat May 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Alyson, glad our articles were of help! Happy Traveling !

  2. Benjamin January 6, 2016 at 6:11 pm

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    1. Vin January 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Benjamin,

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