Jiu Fen is a mountain area within New Taipei City. The small town received huge popularity after the movie "A City of Sadness" was filmed here in 1989 and become a popular visit attraction. The name Jiu Fen, which carries the meaning 9 parts in Chinese, was derived as the early settlement in Jiu Fen during first year of Qing dynasty only consists of 9 families.
After gold was discovered in the village, the small village underwent a robust development and became a town. Due to geographical reason, the town was built in an odd way, with a house could be higher than the neighbouring house and connected via steep stairway.
Having said that, walking around in Jiu Fen allowed us to exercise our legs and thighs by staircase climbing! (Above two pictures depicting the iconic staircase at day and night time at Jiu Fen, leng lui spotted!)
More and more staircase ahead!
More and more staircase ahead!
Exploring Jiu Fen is not a tough task. It is a small area and walking around is easy.
Spectacular view of sunset is available at this observatory deck located nearby 7-11, which is one of the beginning of Jiu Fen old street. However be prepared to cramped and become human sardine.
In fact, Jiu Fen has been blooming in the tourism industry. The presence of high numbers of cabs provided justification for this. Hopefully Jiu Fen is still able to retain its originality despite the flooding of tourists.
Jiu Fen old street is actually a small alley with vintage shops at both side. Previously we thought it is like a street passable by cars. Well, only pedestrians allowed but on certain hours there will be this cute recycle truck pass by!
So what to do at Jiu Fen other than sightseeing? Answer is to fill our stomach to the fullest as possible! Please note that most of the shops at Jiu Fen old street will close at 7-8pm, hence please come for an early dinner!
The name burning snow (40 NTD) had managed to arouse our curiosity and drove us to purchase one. It was actually ice creams and peanut powder wrapped with a smear layer of popiah alike skin.
A large scallion cake in front of the shop had caught our attention and we were wondering what was that. A piece of scallion cake cost 35 NTD and it tasted like yam cake for us.
They even have an English menu, probably due to presence of large amount of non Chinese tourists.
There is people saying that the best Taro balls in Taiwan is available at Jiu Fen. Some people say "Granny Lai" ones is the best, while some people prefer "Aunty Ah Gan" ones. To solve this long term dispute, we decided to try both!
Granny Lai's Taro Ball shop is located somewhere along Jiu Fen old street (please refer to the map we shared earlier). There is option to pick between either hot or cold version for 45 NTD each bowl. The taro ball is chewy and the soup has a pleasant taste.
To get to Aunty Ah Gan's Taro Ball shop, we have to go through a series of staircase next to Jiu Fen primary school. Of course good food only come after some effort. The verdict? The taro ball is sweeter but the soup has no taste.
Thus, there is no loser nor winner in this competition. Both are equally good! Haha!
Till now we still cannot explain why there was a shop for Aunty Ah Gan's taro ball but we opted to sit on the staircase to finish the taro balls.
Coincidently there was a family with all cats opposite the place we sat. All the cats were grumpy, fluffy, and arrogant too as they ignored us when we trying to pat them.
The dogs with all short legs were cut too.
Hei Jing Zhuan promoter promoting this special black peanut to us. It tasted pretty good actually but unfortunately peanuts were too high calories for us so we decided not to buy. Sorry boss!
I think we were overloaded with starchy food by finishing two bowls of taro balls at one shot. Probably more than 2000 calories just for the night itself. Too sinful!
Our company when we were taking picture of Jiu Fen night view.
We have to agree that Taiwanese were really good sellers. They made us into buying this red guava juice with a nice cup for 80 NTD. Till now both of us still puzzled why we bought this juice.
The town became quiet after 8:30pm. There was less people and the town gave a relax feeling, as if we were back to the Jiu Fen in 1970s or 1980s.
We guess this was the memorial mural in Jiu Fen to show people the history of Jiu Fen.
Well, you know what. After finish taking photos and enough walking in Jiu Fen, we felt hungry again but the shops were all closed! Hence we walked around and found there was a 24 hours (we supposed so?) Hi-Life mini mart along the main road.
Then we settled with a bowl of cold noodles (42 NTD) and a bottle of coffee (30 NTD). The cold mee was heavenly taste with splashes of onion scent in the mouth!
Left with limited choices, we head back to Jiu Fen old street in the next morning for breakfast again. We realised there was more shops operating in the morning compared to last evening, most likely we went there pretty last yesterday at about 6pm.
This time we saw another burning snow, A-Zhu peanut ice cream roll which seemed to attract a larger crowd compared to previous stall we tried. Selling at the same price, this stall offered a better peanut ice cream roll with a more aromatic peanut scent.
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We were looking for a proper staple breakfast thus we stopped by a random stall for a bowl of noodles.
Dry Noodles (45 NTD) was too sticky, assorted balls (100 NTD) came with a lot of balls but it tasted plain, and the cabbage (40 NTD) was tasteless. It was a disappointing choice.
Better for us to stick with snacks. The fried mushroom (50 NTD) was fried to cubes and chewy.
Ah Lan's Grass Cake / Cao Zao Gui is a popular snack at Jiu Fen. Originally, grass cakes were used to pray for ancestors or gods during festive session but it has evolved into everyone's favorite nowadays.
There were 4 flavours being offered but we went for sweet red bean and salty green bean for 10 NTD each. We prefer the sweet ones rather than the salty one. The skin may appear to be very thick but in fact it was just a thin layer of skin and chewy.
We saw mochi then Shirleen could not resist the temptation of Taiwan's mochi. Ended up buying a big box of mochi for 150 NTD and cannot finish it. Nevertheless, the mochi was chewy and it has no fillings.
The peanut cakes we tasted here was totally amazing. The peanut scent was overwhelming and we could not stop eating one piece after another. Ending up some money for it.
Ginger tea was abundant in Jiu Fen till we have no idea which to purchase. Thus we simply dropped by a stall, tasted the sample and proceed to purchase.
However only later there was somebody told us that the original ginger tea would be Jin Man Tang. We were unsure how true was the story but Jin Man Tang ginger tea indeed tasted better comparing to the one we simply bought. Perhaps somebody could enlighten us on this?
There were still many interesting food to try at Jiu Fen but our stomach has signalled us to put an end of this, otherwise we would have burst our stomach.
The only cinema in Jiu Fen previously, Sheng Ping theatre was even said to be the first cinema in Taiwan built by the Japanese. It has now turned into an exhibition area to showcase the history of Jiu Fen. It would have been better if there was a short film depicting how Jiu Fen has evolved over time...
Ever thought of what will happen if cats conquers the world? This is how it looks like at Jiu Fen. A very cute illustration.
Some shots at Jiu Fen, including a selfie of us which ought not to be missed.
What a cute dog at Jiu Fen!
After one and a half of relaxing day in Jiu Fen, we continue our trip with a less popular destination - Kee Lung.
To get to Keelung from Jiu Fen, there are 2 choices1) Take a cab to Keelung directly (of course it will be more expensive).
2) Take public bus 788 to Rui Fang (15 NTD) , then you need to change another bus to Kee Lung (15 NTD). The whole journey takes abour 45 minutes.
Bus to Kee Lung is 788 too, however it was like each bus have a different frequencies of stoppage hence the driver advised us to take another bus which proceed directly to Kee Lung. Please consult the driver.
On a sidebar note, Taiwanese was really helpful and genuine to help tourists. There was a taxi driver at Jiu Fen bus station kept asking us where were we going. However as a tourist, our past bad experience told us he was trying to promote his taxi service to take us to Kee Lung. However, it turned out that he was just helping us to confirm whether we waited at the correct station or not, whether to Jin Gua Shi or back to Rui Fang as the buses will be in total opposite direction.
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