Taiwan: A Miner’s Day in Jinguashi

Travel Period : 30th Oct – 6th Nov 2012

{ Previous Post:  Taiwan: Eat & Shop in JiuFen }

Day 6 Afternoon to Night Itinerary :

  • Jinguashi (金瓜石) Gold Ecological Park –>>
  • Ximending (西門町)

Jinguashi

Read our previous post on Jiufen where we were there in the morning.

How We Got There :
Took Metro from Shuanglien Metro where we were located to Taipei Metro Station // Short walk across the Main Station to Taipei Railway Station (TRA) (located in same building) // Took train from Taipei TRA station to Ruifang TRA station // At Ruifang TRA Station, walk outside to take a cab to Jiufen. // From Jiufen, we took a cab to Jinguashi (Can also take a bus)

History

Jinguashi is an old mining town in New Taipei City, known for gold and copper mining. The Gold Ecological Park is located in the Ruifang District of New Taipei City and is the first eco-museum park in Taiwan. Many of the historical mining items are still preserved for us to understand a little of the mining industry. Besides the mining, Japanese style residence and the Crown Prince Chalet architecture were also preserved for us to view. The mining was started extensively by the Japanese when they took over Taiwan during the Jiawu War and brought in the newest machinery and skills, hence there are Japanese architecture and a Shinto Shrine in the park.

For more information about the park, read the official page. If you are interested in the history of the mining and how it started, read here.

Japanese ‘Four-Joined’ Style Residence >> Benshan 5th Tunnel >> Jinguashi Shinto Shrine >> Museum of Gold >> Crown Prince Chalet >> Gold Waterfall

When we were researching on places to go in Taiwan, I came across this mining district and deemed it a must-go area because we had not seen real mines before. We thought it would be interesting for Dar to learn too. Therefore, we planned to spend the morning in Jiufen and then nearby Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park.

When we boarded the taxi in Jiufen on our way to the park, we had a small argument with the taxi-driver. He wanted to go elsewhere to take customers after we are at the park even though we planned to book him for the rest of the day and put our belongings on his taxi. I decided not to book him then and was prepared to forgo the ‘deposit’ NT1000 we paid earlier. However, he kept nagging that we should go different places quickly (nearby Keelung, other areas of Jinguashi) after the tour at the Park, saying this is NOT the way to tour. “You all SHOULD go many places nearby as quickly as possible until sunset since you are touring.” He just kept saying and saying again, trying to convince us while driving.

I got really irritated at his attitude because we have a child with us and we have our own way of touring places. We like to stay in one place as long as possible and explore everything and learnt about it. If we like a rush-tour to as many places as possible, we would have booked a tour bus and just go with a tour guide. It’s because we dislike this way of travelling that we planned all our trips ourselves and take public transport, so who is he to criticise us and tell us what we should be doing? Especially we intend to pay a hefty sum to book him. It was really the first time I flared up during the trip at a driver. He was stunned and got worried after that of offending us and returned us the deposit. Actually, it’s the first time we met such a driver too in Taiwan. All the taxi-drivers in Taiwan were really nice people.

Our mood was thus dampened when we reached the place with our bags of heavy items bought from Jiufen. Fortunately, I had a positive attitude and believed things would resolve by itself. Indeed, the Tourist Information Center at the entrance allowed us to put our bags of stuffs at their counter desk at no charges and they would look after it for us. I really love how they have this visitor centre at every places of interest we visit in Taiwan. They were really helpful. Thus, we were able to carry on walking in the park just with our backpacks and light stroller for Dar.

201211_Jinguashi01

We always fill up our water bottles with water provided at the centres. That's why we had no lack of water while travelling in Taiwan. Really great!
We always fill up our water bottles at the water coolers provided in Tourist Information Centers. That’s why we had no lack of water while travelling in Taiwan. Great for us because we drink a lot of water!

#1: Japanese ‘Four-Joined’ Style Residence

After settling our bags, we joined the queue to enter into the Japanese-Style Residence. It is actually a dormitory built for the Japanese mining workers. Initially, I thought it was the original building preserved but we were introduced to a video when we entered the room that the building was taken down and rebuilt again as a museum using the original materials. This sort of ‘spoilt’ it for me because I love old buildings as they were themselves from decades or even centuries-old.

We were led through the quarters to view the rooms and items they used. Not very refreshing for us since we had stayed in a Japanese hot spring chalet before. It was a short walk and we were out pretty quickly.

201211_Jinguashi03

#2: Benshan 5th Tunnel

This is the highlight of our trip here! We came specially to experience walking in a real mining tunnel. The Benshan 5th Tunnel was renovated and partly opened to the public.

They were careful to allow only streams of visitors each time so no over-crowding occurs. Before entering the room, we were to stand outside to look at a video until the previous batch of visitors leave for the tunnel. We were then given a blue hair mask to cover our heads before putting on the miner’s safety helmet. Dar looked cute in it and I happened to let him wear a checkered shirt looking a bit like a worker.

Coincidentally, his shirt looked like a miner's...*smile
Coincidentally, his shirt looked like a miner’s…*smile

We strolled slowly behind the others as we took in the sight and took pictures.

Walking into the tunnel was an interesting experience as we walked on the slanted metal platforms going up and down. It was not too steep so Dar could still walk well with his sports shoes. It is important to wear a pair of good shoes if one needs to walk here as some parts of the floor are quite slippery due to the condensation of water on the metal. We had to walk carefully and slowly and held onto the fences at the side. However, this way, we managed to experience how the workers walked in those days too.

Inside the tunnel, was some well-made wax-exhibit of the workers showing how they mined in the old days and did the explosion of the rocks. We stood in front of the exhibits for sometime and listened to sound recordings of workers explaining their work in Mandarin. Dar didn’t understand Mandarin so he was quite bored but he enjoyed walking inside the tunnel and wanted to go back to it again after we visited another place. However, we didn’t have time so we only walked through it once.

#3: Japanese Shinto Shrine

After we came out from the tunnel, we were higher up the area and saw a sign pointing to a shinto shrine. The Japanese Shinto Shrine was used to celebrate a festival during the Japanese Era. It was destroyed during the war and only some ruins remain now. We like ruins and old structures so we definitely wanted to see how it’s like.

So the adventurous us started the ascent. We could see the gate to the shrine and we thought that was it. Should be easy right? As we began the climb up, we realised it is much higher and further than that because that was just the first gate we saw!

We laughed at that and continued. It was cold and breezy so we weren’t so uncomfortable. We also took short breaks when our legs could not take it anymore. The steps got steeper and narrower as we walked up and finally, when we reached the ruins of the Shrine after 20 mins, we were panting heavily. Dar was still in a good mood throughout the climb. Amazingly, we were more tired than him!

At the top, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of the entire area. It was really awesome and we were glad we took the effort to make it to the top!

Here’s our journey as we climbed up…

Even at the top of the shrine area, there was a stone platform right at the edge of the mountain. Only THAT is the final point of the shrine.

201211_Jinguashi18

#4: Museum of Gold

We went to the Museum of Gold after that to view the historical mining equipments and touch the famous gold ingot. It is a HUGE gold ingot holding a world record, 220 kg 999 pure gold! There were many people queuing up to take pictures with it and touching it. Vin and Dar touched it while I just took photos of them. It is protected, closely watched by staff and very heavy so don’t think people could steal it. ^^

The rest of the exhibits were very informative, telling us the history of the mines. There was also a little about World War II history and Japanese Occupation. Supposedly, there was an area dedicated to the POWs too (it was used as a POW camp during WWII) but we didn’t visit that part. It was located further away inside the park in a not so obvious location. Even though Taiwan was occupied and they disliked the rule, we found that they were still grateful for the technology and infrastructure brought in by the Japanese. Information on the Japanese work was always provided in a ‘positive’ manner and sensitive information not detailed.

201211_Jinguashi27

There was a gold-panning area for us to experience gold panning for fun. We didn’t try that out however.

201211_Jinguashi28

#5: Crown Prince Chalet

The Japanese mining company built a chalet for the Crown Prince but he didn’t manage to visit here. It is a nice big architecture using red cypress wood characteristic of Japanese architecture. We can only view it from the outside like this as it is not opened for tour. There was a nice landscaped gardens beside it so we took a little walk.201211_Jinguashi29

It was evening time so we decided to leave the area and head to our next destination, Ximending for dinner.

We walked to the bus-stop with our stuff and looked out for a taxi to head to the destination. As we sat in the bus-stop and waited, we spotted a taxi waiting behind it. Vin and I discussed and decided to approach him to ask if he is willing to take us. Surprisingly, we were really lucky as he was waiting there just for customers to take downhill! Immediately, we firmed the pricing (I think was abt NT1000?) and headed to Ximending.

This driver was Mr John Tu and he quickly became our favourite driver because he was so knowledgeable about stuff in Taiwan and we chatted quite happily. He brought us to a place overlooking the sea area surrounding Jinguashi where we took photographs. He also stopped at the Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布) for a little while for us to look at it even though we didn’t ask him to stop at any destination. Due to the mineral deposits, the mountain soil looks golden brown causing the waterfall to have a tinge of yellow.

201211_Jinguashi31

As the water flows into the Ying Yang Sea (陰陽海), the shore area has waters that are yellowish while further from the shore, they are more bluish. Hence, it is a famous photography spot and cars slowed down as they passed that particular section for visitors to look at the waters. We could see the ‘traffic jams’ at that area from the spot we were at.

201211_Jinguashi32

With that, we ended our tour in this area and headed back to our hotel.

On the cab, we were impressed with Mr Tu’s knowledge of Taiwan as he told us a lot of interesting things. We thus decided to book him for the trip to the Airport on our last day. As we need to go to Hualien tomorrow, we arranged with him to meet on Tuesday at the Taiwan Main Railway Station. On further discussion, he told us that a quick tour of 1.5 hrs to the ‘National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall would still be possible. I was really glad as I had wanted to visit the place to learn about the founder of Taiwan and couldn’t fit it into our itinerary.

This is his contact for anyone reading this post and wants a nice knowledgeable driver to bring you around.I’m not sure about his English Knowledge but I think he does know a little to communicate with English speakers. We talked to him primarily in Mandarin.

Driver: Mr John Tu 涂洪钦
Tel: 0910-252363
email: TU09610510@yahoo.com.tw

{ Next Post: Explore Ximending }

  1. Colleen Ooi September 16, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Hi Cat,
    I emailed to Mr. John Tu but received Mail Delivery Status Notification(failure).
    His email:TU09610510@yahoo.com.tw I need his service for two days tour.

    Regards
    Colleenooi

    1. Cat September 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Colleen,

      I can’t really help on that because that was what he placed on his namecard. You might have to call him directly then to the number in Taiwan.

  2. Nicole July 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Hi hi. firstly, thank you so much for sharing all your travel details on this blog. It sure is useful stuff.

    May i know this Mr Tu is driving what type of taxi? Is it a must for kids to use car seat in Taiwan?
    I m traveling with 5 adults and a kid.

    Thanks.

    1. Cat July 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Nicole,
      The taxi drivers we hired usually drives a hatchback type of taxi, toyota wish (like this : http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TOYOTA_WISH_TAIWAN_2014_TAXI_02.JPG) and they could change the vehicle due to different number of people. If there’s a lot, they use a 7-seater or even a van. It depends on whether it’s available I guess.

      We use a car seat because we feel it’s safer and more comfortable for Dar because travelling often takes 2-3hours. It’s not possible for me to let him sit on my lap for so long and he’s also not tall enough for an adult’s seatbelt which would cut across his neck.

  3. colette September 27, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Hi Cat , enjoy reading your review 🙂
    I intend to visit Jiufeng & Jinguashi as well. Would you suggest I do Jinguashi first, than Juifeng, since I don’t want to be burden with all the bags of shopping? We are a group of 8:)
    Thanks:)

    1. Cat September 30, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Colette, thanks for the compliments.
      For Jiufen, I would prefer to go in the early morning and then do a tea-house lunch.
      Otherwise, it’s late afternoon and view the nice lighting at night.
      Avoid mid-afternoon 12-2pm where a lot of tourists would be coming in bus loads. We almost couldn’t walk out to catch our taxi to Jinguashi then. It was too crowded to look or buy anything with ease and expect long queues for food.
      You can place your baggage at Jinguashi Tourist Information Centre as that was what we did with our numerous bags and buys. They are so friendly and alright with looking after it.

  4. Nathania January 21, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Hi, thanks so much for your info about Jinguashi!!

    May i ask your opinion if my one-day itinerary starts from Ruifang station – Shifen – Pingxi – Jinguashi – Jiufen – Ruifang station. Is it do-able?

    0. Does pingxi worth to go? If i visit Shifen as well?
    1. Is it better to visit Jinguashi or Jiufen first?
    2. How to go to Jinguashi (From Shifen OR Pingxi train station)?

    3. Is the attraction in Jinguashih (黃金瀑布-Golden Waterfall , Gold ecological park ) are within walking distance from bus stop ?

    Thanks so much for your kind attention ya! Waiting for your reply 🙂
    Regards,
    Lee

Comments are closed.