The Taroko express from Hualien took only about 2 hours to arrive in Taipei main station. From there we took the Taipei metro to our hotel in the Zhongshan district of Taipei. The Golden China hotel is right in the centre of the city, at a very convenient location. I would certainty recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Taipei.
The next day we visited Jiu Fen, a famous tourist small town at the outskirt of Taipei. We planned to take a bus, but there were already quite a number of people waiting for the bus. As the bus was late, we took a ride in a van instead. We paid NT$300 ( $12) each for the 45 minute drive.
Jiu Fen is nestled on a hill that overlooks the Keelung harbour. It is previously a gold mining town during the Japanese era, but has now become a tourist magnet. There are lots of tourists there, attracted by the quaint old houses, art galleries and specialty shops. There is a narrow pedestrian shopping mall selling all kind of Taiwanese desert, art works and souvenirs.
Visitors can also walk along the narrow winding roads where ordinary people live. Some of the houses have been converted into art galleries and tourists accommodations. The view is not bad. Since the houses and shops are on a hill slope, it was tiring walking along the steep stairs. The sound of dogs barking stopped me from exploring further, for I have no wish to be bitten by dog in Taiwan.
What Jiu Fen offers is a small town atmosphere with a number nice little shops, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Taipei. But having been to places like Lijiang (in Yunnan) and Fenghuang (in Hunan), the appeal of Jiufen seemed rather limited. Perhaps I need to stay a little longer and interact with the locals, to get rid of the feeling that this place is nothing more than a tourist trap.
Later, we took a bus that terminates at a small town called Rui Fang, and get a connecting train back to Taipei main station.