Living in Taiwan I’ve been so fortunate to have visited so many wondering places. Among all the places I’ve been to, Jiufen is one that I’m always drawn to. Jiufen is a magical city, decorated with paper red lanterns, winding alleyways that lead to cobblestone stairways. Being one of the prettiest and charming towns in Northern Taiwan, Jiufen is quite special because of its location. The village is set atop a mountain and offers gorgeous views of the ocean. When night falls, the city is illuminated, contrasted by the darkness of the sky and ocean behind it. Many present features of Jiufen reflect the era under Japanese colonization, with many Japanese inns surviving to this day. The unique architecture of Jiufen’s downtown area is so charming that it was used for commercials and movies including Spirited Away. It’s a stunningly beautiful animation by Hayao Miyazaki used inspiration from this very place. Spirited Away literally stole my heart. It tells a story of friendship in a magical realm of mysterious gods and mythical creatures. You only need to visit Jiufen once to see why Miyazaki chose Jiufen as the source of his inspiration, and why it’s one of my favourite haunts in Taiwan. Along the narrow old streets, you can see lots of cool little retro style cafés, restaurants, endless food stalls, Chinese and Japanese tea houses that overlook the hills. It’s no wonder many come to drink tea during the night to appreciate the night view. The idyllic ambience will make you want to stay over night. Jiufen Old Street is crowded with both tourists and locals, but a step off the main road leads to a hushed calm. There are no people, no vendors, and no shops, only near constant mist and fog that drape over the town and add to the mystical ambience. On these quiet back alleys, it feels like travelling back in time. Let the bright red lanterns guide the path, enjoy the surrounding solitude and allow yourself to fall under the town’s charm.
What’s your favourite place?