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Taiwan Day 4: Jiu Fen + 放天灯 (releasing sky lanterns)

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On the 4th day (5th April), we ventured to the outskirts of Taipei! We planned to visit Shi Fen and Jiu Fen, but we ended up not going to the former... you'll see why later!

This was a super tiring day, with all the train-taking, standing, waiting and walking, but it was a very fulfilling one too! ^^
We took the metro to Taipei Main Station, and then took a train to Ruifang. 

It was crowded. We heard from Ya Fan that her friend said that there was another train that didn't stop at all stations (so it's faster), and yet was just slightly pricier, but we weren't offered that choice at the ticketing counter! I can't remember how long this was... 45 mins to an hour?

People mountain people sea.

It was a sunny day. 

We went to the convenience store to grab something to eat.

They sold roasted sweet potatoes and charged them by weight. The lady at the counter weighed it with her hand any only charged me NT25 though hehe ^^

It was SO GOOD. Why don't my sweet potatoes turn out this way?? Ahh if only they sold these in Singapore. Though they probably won't taste so good here since the weather's hot all year round.

Oh! They could sell these in CINEMAS. Since they're so cold. They'll be able to make money from vegans, the health-conscious, and middle-aged Asian people hehe. 

This is another sweet potato thing at another convenience store (taken on another day). Most larger convenience stores sell these. Hehe the sweet potato cartoons look so cute!

These are some breakfast pastries sold at a stall near the convenience store! 

They love to eat doughy, greasy stuff for breakfast! A traditional breakfast is you tiao (deep-fried dough sticks) dipped in soymilk. I didn't really notice any obese people though. How is that so??

We waited quite a while for a bus to take us to Shi Fen but there was NO SUCH BUS - you need to take a train. There was miscommunication somewhere! So we aborted the plan to go Shi Fen (to see waterfalls) and go directly to Jiu Fen.

To get to Jiu Fen, we crossed the road and walked to the left, past the Police station, to get to this bus stop.

Bus 1062 took us straight there. The bus was packed (it was a Saturday after all), and we stood all the way on the jerky bus up the mountain!

Finally we arrived! The view is good.

It was so crowded!!!

Oh yes, one thing about this place, is that it's TOURIST-Y. So some things are overpriced and some packaged goods are filled with air and cheat your money. -_-

Lols I wanted to go back to this place to eat the taro ball and dou hua, but we ended up not coming back.

We went to this shop to buy some ocarinas! These are wind instruments that are like recorders, but with 6 holes side by side in 2 rows. My dad bought one years back and it was so difficult to play!! I bought one for my friend here though hehe. The good thing is that there's a whole lot of different designs and colours to choose from, so even if you decide not to play it, it's still a cute ornament. This shop seems to be run my a mother and two daughters! How nice. ^^

Cute malt candy.

An ice cream wrap.

SUPER CUTE LLAMAS!!! Bought some for my friends too ^^

Overpriced grilled mushrooms!!!! Those sold at Shilin were cheaper.

Other than the grilled ones shown here, they also sold deep fried ones.

NT100 for this tiny cup! It's just one mushroom + a little bit of another mushroom -_- It was nice though - chewy and not as soft as expected. Some of my friends didn't like it because of the latter. So they gave me their leftovers ^^

There were a lot of people at some points. Much more than what you see here! One of the stall holders near the jammed up spot shouted out advice to anyone that would listen - to detour and take the back alley to escape the crowd. So we did! It was also a nice place to breathe fresh air and rest for a while.

Then we went to this place, and I bought quite a bit. I think I bought so much because the stall holder was so nice and friendly LOL. She knew that we were from Singapore and tried to speak to us in English haha. And then she showed us that someone from Singapore held the record of buying to most - 200 boxes? I can't remember. And she showed us pictures of her when she was younger and already manning this store. And she helped us to throw our empty mushroom cups. And of course we could try as many samples as we liked o_o

They were yummy though! And all were vegan, if I'm not wrong!

Many shops have this QR code thing. How modernised!

We also bought these, which are crunchy, savoury freeze-dried (?) mushrooms! They are so delicious!!!!! But the thing is, that the packaging is a scam - the amount of mushroom 'cookies' actually inside is like 1/5 of the box?!

Colourful candy. They're not rock-hard, as I'd expected, but soft to the touch.

Found a stall selling taro balls. This is slightly different from the one at the entrance though, since this doesn't have dou hua.

On of the aunties would scoop a mix of the 3 beans... Red bean, kidney bean and green bean.

And then the other one would add these colourful taro balls on top!

I asked for the chilled one, so ice was added too! This cost NT60. The taro balls don't taste like taro though. But they were chewy and overall this dessert was pleasantly sweet.

Then, we walked to another look-out point, nearing what I believe is the end of the long street.

We found this really lovely place!! It offers a place for you to rest your tired legs, even if you don't purchase anything. You can also bring outside food to eat, charge your phone, and throw your rubbish. There's even a clean toilet at the basement! It's such a great find! It's located past the lookout point, and the doorway is quite small but there's signs on the walls which say 免費休息, so look out for that! 

There's items for sale on the first and second floor (we sat at the second floor) and I got my furry panda cap here at NT150 - which is quite cheap! The lady at the counter was also very friendly and helpful with directions (she wrote them down on a piece of paper) when we asked her how to take a bus back to Ruifang. ^^

The view from the second floor! ^^

We climbed down this looong flight of stairs (there were even more we had to walk after I took this photo) to get to the bus stop!

A whisker-less cat.

We took the bus back to Ruifang and went to buy another train ticket (NT52). Actually this ticket could've taken us to Shi Fen too. ._.

We were headed to Ping Xi to release the sky lanterns! It's the second last stop.

Along with most of the people on the train, we alighted at Ping Xi. The lantern lamps are pretty! ^^

You can write your wishes and hang them here!


People usually release the lanterns at about 5-6pm. The lantern releasing ends at 7pm I think.

There are people in flourescent orange vests who help with the lantern releasing and photo taking!

It's done at the train track, and the orange-vest people have to clear the people off the tracks when the train comes!


Where do the lanterns go, you ask?
They float away and drop behind the mountains, and people are paid to pick them up and discard them. Lols that kinda spoils it... but still it feels magical! 

There's different colours to choose from. We chose the multi-coloured one which cost NT200. The single coloured one is cheaper (NT150 I think).

The orange-vest people will help you clip the lantern and switch sides once you're done.

Black ink and 毛笔 calligraphy brush are provided to write with!

This was so worth the long train journeys!!!!!

That's our lantern up there :')

Oh yes, by the way, those LED light lantern key chains are the cheapest here, at NT70 each for the small one (if I remember correctly). We bought them at NT100 at Jiu Fen, and they sell it even more expensive at the night markets -_-

Random cute cottage cafe.

We were hungry so we walked along the streets to find food! We decided to get this peanut ice cream wrap. This can be found at almost every night market, and usually there's a queue. 

Sadly the wrap isn't hand made :( :( :(
The aunty scrapes off peanut powder from a big block of peanuts, and then another aunty puts ice cream on the peanut shavings.
Wow the peanut aunty's arms must be muscular.

I've seen there being 3 scoops of ice cream of different flavours at another stall somewhere else!

It was good, but not fantastic - maybe because of the quality of the wrap. My friend didn't like that the ice cream was too ice-y, but I was glad that it wasn't creamy!

I went to get a bowl of dou hua! I can't remember the price, but I got it unsweetened, with two toppings.

They provide calorie counts. Interesting.

I chose azuki beans and preserved guava. Preserved fruits were starting to grow on me. I don't know if preserved is the correct word, but it's soaked in the sweet-sour-salty liquid like the plums on the first day. 

This looked interesting. I went inside the shop but couldn't figure out what it was. A direct translation is 'noodle tea'.

I finally tried these deep fried sweet potato balls that I've seen at all the night markets! If you've not noticed, I've already decided to just try everything, regardless of unhealthiness. :x

This was the only stall that I've seen that sold them in so many different colours! I think I've seen some selling yellow & purple, and others selling yellow & orange, but not in five different colours! It says that no chemical colourings are used.

It was crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside! There was pink and purple at the bottom of the packet too :)

The lantern lamps look even prettier at night.

We saw this purple ear-ed dog at the train station! Haha the owner saw me taking this photo and smiled. ><

It was a long long long ride back, but the experiences here were so worth it!

A post on Day 5 will be up tomorrow.

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