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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two North Taiwan Daytrips

     Rachel Hsu
Last weekend, I went to Taipei with a friend. We visited many places, but I want to introduce two locations that impressed me deeply – Tamkang University and Jiufen. They are both places you shouldn’t miss.
We visited Tamkang University first. Their campus is not big, but it is a distinctive school. We entered Tamkang campus from “Overcoming Difficulty Slope”, a steep slope made up of 132 stone steps. We were tired when we had reached the top, but we were still excited. There is a meaning to the slope; it symbolizes “difficulties and hardship”. The slope tests whether students can persevere and overcome difficulties.
Photos by the author
The Chinese Palace- style Classrooms in Tamkang are famous. They are modeled on Chinese classical palaces, with black roofs and red walls. They have become a symbol of the school. I thought it would be really special to study here. There is a Chinese garden behind the Chinese Palace-style classrooms, with a tiny waterfall, pool, Chinese gazebo, and many flowers and tussocks. I really envied the students at Tamkang such a restful and unique learning environment.

The next spot we went to was Jiufen. Jiufen is in the mountains of Ruifang. In early Taiwan, it development into a town because of the gold rush, but when the gold ran out, Jiufen quickly went into decline and, for a while, the town was mostly forgotten. In 1989, a popular movie, A City of Sadness, was filmed in Jiufen.  The movie attracted many tourists to Jiufen. From then on, it became a famous tourist attraction. An anime movie, Spirited Away, was also filmed in an antique tea shop in Jiufen. Because I love that movie, when I heard the news from tour guide, I was excited.
There are many old-style groceries on Jiufen’s old street, selling children’s toys, clogs, and souvenirs. We ate Juifen’s specialty: Taro rice balls and Moxa cakes. All of them were handmade; they were chewy and delicious. Retro- Chinese style café’s, tea houses and old- style shops stand on the old street; I enjoyed the nostalgic atmosphere. At that time, I almost forget time and space and couldn’t tell the difference between present and the past. I had been to Jiufen two times before, but I always went in the daytime. My friend said the night is more charming, so, next time I visit, I’ll spend the night and experience the silent environment and see the fascinating night view.

Coming home from Taipei, I thought that both Tamkang University and Jiufen are worth visiting. In Tamkang, you can relax and look at the unique buildings at the same time. Jiufen is a mountain town with vintage atmosphere and many shops. You will feel as if you had gone through a time tunnel. You will also see a panoramic view that you can share with family and friends. If you have two days, you can visit these two scenic spots. If you just have one day available, choose one of them. Because they are kind of far apart, it will take too much time to visit both places. No matter where you go, just open your mind and have a nice trip!

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