Jiufen is situated on the north east coast of Taiwan, only an hours drive from Taipei. This place was made famous by the movie "spirited away", a Japanese anime that used this hill side village as the concept town for it's story.
Some friends had organised for a few other teachers to get together and have a nice day outing with beer and shopping as the agenda.
We all met at the Hsinchu train station at 7:30am, and took the old school slow train up to Reifang with poppy riding in her dog bag , casually waking up to make sure we hadn't forgotten her.
As train travel is our preferred mode of travel, taking the train took us back to our days of being on the road and made us realise how much we miss getting out and exploring new places.
After 2 and a half hours we pulled into Reifang a medium sized costal town with a few old markets and food vendors. From here we piled into a few taxis, and took a short 5 minute drive up the mountain to Jiufen. As we slid out of the taxi we were greated by 2 things, a stunning view of the ocean with Reifang and a few other smaller towns dotting the mountains; and tourists.... soooo many tourists. As a Japanese film had been created here, this place was obviously a must for any Japanese tourist. And with all of the market stalls selling interesting and unique products, it made it just as popular for the shopping-crazed Taiwanese tourist.
One of the first discoveries in the narrow alley ways was an ice cream burrito, with shaved peanuts, your choice of flavoured ice cream and cilatro, a herb that is very common in cooking Indian, Mexican, and Asian foods.
From this point the ladies dabbled in window shopping, while the men found a chemist that sold beer, and a corner with a view to hide in and consume beers. And this is where we stayed for a good hour or so, getting our photos taken by envious (becasue of our hair or our dog? ) or maybe just curious, Japanese and Taiwanese tourists. The highlight was having a grandmother ask her son to ask me for a kiss... awkward? not for me...
By now we had worked up quite an appetite, and were in need for some food... (not burrito ice cream). We managed to find a nice little restaurant that sold pizza, and tea, however they probably had never had 12 people walk in and ask for 12 pizzas at the same time before, so their poor pizza oven was worked to overload. After 2 hours we were all finally fed, and our beer bellies were filled with more beer (no Robyn obviously wasn't drinking beer).
By now it was getting later in the day and it soon would be time to get the last train back to Hsinchu. So me swaggered our way back through the overly crowded ally ways, with enough time for the ladies to buy some Japanese half shoes (literally it is only the front half of the shoe, apparently it is good for increasing the strength of your belly, and your upper thighs?) and the men to scoff one more beer down.
We then clambered back into a few taxis and headed down the mountain to Reifeng. By now some of us had worked up another appetite and found a Vietnamese hole in the wall to fill the void.
With full (with beer and food ) bellies we found our respectable seats aboard the slow train back to Hsinchu and slunk into a food and booze coma.. next stop Hsinchu!