Starting off the day a little rough, with wasting over an hour trying to look for the hotel I was switching to while carrying and dragging all my things around Ximen, dying under the dry summer heat and wasting about another hour trying to find my way through Taipei Main Station with no actual idea of where I even wanted to go for the day (Note to self: Know where you want to go before navigating Taipei Main Station, because seriously, what the heck are you even looking for?), I just stumbled around the whole place, randomly picking nature spots and asking the information how long will it take for me to get to those places.
After getting all the info that I needed and being sent back and fourth through MRT lines and bus stations, I decided, or the universe rather, that Shuinandong is where I was going to go. I really shouldn’t have let myself get so stressed out for the first few hours of my day, wasting time and getting lost, because you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And if I literally took one different turn or “saved” a couple of minutes by walking in the right direction, I wouldn’t have had met the people I was going to meet along the way and I would have had a totally different day. Luckily for me, it turned out to be the most beautiful Sunday’s of my life.
HOW TO GET THERE:
-From Taipei Main Station, take the local train to Ruifang Station.
-Once at Ruifang Station, find your way to the exit and turn left.
-Keep walking and look for the bus stop (which is right after the Police Station).
-Wait for bus no. 856. This bus can take you to most attractions in the area.
While in the bus, expect nothing but beautiful scenery as it makes it’s way down through zigzag, narrow roads. The high cliffs, beautiful mountain structures, and lush greenery had no trouble throwing out all my stress from earlier that day out the damn window. The roads are really narrow and the buses are quite big. You’ll experience a few stops and slowdown moments as the bus driver avoids bumps or scratches from other vehicles. But expect other things to be sliding against your window, like tall grass and bushes.
The Golden Waterfalls
My first stop was the Golden Waterfall. Just seeing it from the bus before even finding my way out of it already got me excited like a kid in a candy store. The Golden Waterfall is the one and only waterfall in Taiwan that is #Golden, juz like me. I’ve visited and seen a handful of waterfalls in Taiwan and the Philippines, but the way this one was spread out wide and low, having the water just gently creep down the rocks instead of gushing, falling altogether was nothing but amazing.
I then sat on my map on the side of the road, waiting for the next bus to arrive to bring me further down the mountain while feeding my poor tummy that didn’t have any time for breakfast some biscuits and water. Then, I very nice Chinese man, Baron, with a pleasant smile came up to me and asked me if I was wanting to go to the YinYang Sea next. I’m like hell yea! That’s definitely where I was bound to go. He told me that it was possible to walk down the mountain and that it would take around 20 minutes. Without hesitation or much thought (just like almost every single thing I do in life), I jumped up thinking “Fuck yeah! I can walk!” . Baron was #shookt and had his hands up in a “Woah, calm down, girl” gesture and told me that it’s very hot and the next bus will be arriving in a couple of minutes, which I clearly did not know because just live everything else in Taiwan, everything was in Chinese.
Kevin (left), was almost mute and barely spoke. Baron (right), spoke too much and also laughed at everything I said. LOL.
The bus then pulled up across the street, I gathered my belongings as Baron and Kevin rushed and signaled me to move quickly. I stood up, put my backpack on, hopped a few steps, then BAM! I was on the fucking floor. “I’m fine, I’m fine!”, I stood back up with a hand that was starting to bleed, but it was all gooood! My main concern was damaging my fresh tattoo that I had a day before my flight, but luckily for me, the landing was safe.
The YinYang Sea
As we got off the bus stop, we crossed the road to see the YinYang Sea. The YinYang Sea is knows for it’s coast with contrasting light and dark colors. I ran to it’s boarder like I’ve never seen a body of water before. The photo above doesn’t do it any justice, but I was in total, absolute awe. The three of us walked around for a bit and they asked me if I wanted to join them in Jiufen Old Street since it was very hot and the sun was slightly burning our skin. I had to refuse the offer because SEE THE LINE WHERE SKY MEETS THE SEA? IT CALLS ME! (Ya bitch, another Moana reference, sue me.) From afar, I saw rocks at the edge of the coast and I wanted to check out if I can go down and sit on them. So, I walked, and walked, and walked.
As i found my way down, I sat on a rock. And the first time in a really long time, there was silence. Silence not in everything that surrounded me, but silence inside of me. For the first time in a really long time, I stopped thinking about everything all at once. I stopped thinking about the stupid past and stopped worrying about the fucking future. For the first time in a really long time, my anxiety left me alone. Since anxiety is caused by wanting to be somewhere else or wanting to be in a different situation, it fled my brain just for a while because I was present, in the moment, and happy.
I sat there for a while. And honestly, just sitting there was one of the highlights of my trip. I just listened to the waves as it crashed to the shore, felt the sea breeze that made my hair fly, and sat in silence thinking that everything was going to be fine. I wanted to sit there as long as I possibly could, just to take in the calmness in my heart for as long as I could.. but then, I got hungry. Hihihi.
Jiufen Old Street
Photo credit: meetmyguide.com
I walked back to the bus stop, feeling namaste as fuck. At that point, I was just thinking that namastay where the food is. I hopped on the bus that barely had any people on it, so with no guilt whatsoever, I sat on a priority seat. That was until the doors opened at the next bus stop and a big group of people came in and I rushed to the back and got a seat that I didn’t have to give away if ever anyone needed it more than I did.
I ended up sitting beside a girl named Alex. We didn’t talk at first until the side mirror of a bus passing by ours was literally less than an inch from our window. “Woah, that’s pretty close!” she said. I laughed and asked her where she was from. She said she was from Germany. I proceeded to introduce myself in German. She then asked me how I knew German words. I told her that I used to date a guy from literally the other side of the globe… and that’s how we found out we had a lot more in common than we thought. #GirlTalk. After a little bit of storytelling, low key ranting, and getting to know each other, she asked me if I wanted to grab some dinner since we were headed the same direction. My tummy and I couldn’t say nein to that!
Photo credit: melissathegreat.com
Once at Jiufen Old Street, there was food, cute little shops, and people everywhere. If you ever find yourself here, watch out for the Mugwort Rice Cakes! It’s Jiufen’s specialty treat and it’s even featured on the tourist map. Don’t worry, it will be sort of hard to miss since there were looooong lines for it every time we passed by. It was sooo good!
Alex and I soon finally decided on a restaurant. I ordered cold water noodles and she ordered this very promising dish, according to the photo, which looked like a platter of many different things, called “Buddha Over The Wall”. The guy at the counter said that the dish is so good that Buddha jumped over the wall. But, it turned out that Buddha stayed home because the dish came and it turned out to be just some kind of soup that had a bunch of random stuff and animal parts in it. I was clearly not a fan and neither was she, but we had a good laugh. We went around once again for a hunt to find desert for our sweet tooth. I got Taiwan’s famous milk tea with ice cream and she got a cream pancake.
Jiufen Old Street’s restaurants and shops close very early, right about 6pm. Once we saw the first shop close down, we headed up the stairs to the very top and looked for the perfect view of the sunset. We noticed some tea houses that looked like had the perfect view and decided to go there. On the way, much to my surprise, we bumped into Baron and Kevin! We invited them to join us in our sunset session and they were very happy to tag along.
I really took pride in being sober for my trip, up until the German girl took a seat and said “Do they have beer?”. Lol, sobriety jumped out the window. But how can you resist a beer (or two, or three) with a sunset like this?
Once again, just for a little while, silence in my mind… but this time, with beer. 😜
As the sun said “see ya later”, the countryside lit up and the twilight looked absolutely beautiful. The peace and quiet of the old, little tea house managed by sweet ageing ladies was disturbed by loud roars of laughter, obviously from the group on the balcony with a table full of beer. It was pure bliss.
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