Tuesday, December 13, 2011

daytrip: jinguashi

Caught a train from the Taipei Main Station to Ruifang District located in New Taipei City. From Ruifang, we caught a bus to Jinguashi, a gold and copper mining city. At Jinguashi, we visited the Gold Ecological Park which contains a lot of mining history of the area. The Japanese had colonized the area and you can see its influence in the buildings. The Japanese also used the area as a prisoner of war camp from 1942-1945. British prisoners were forced to work in the most dangerous parts of the mine and barely received any medical treatment. One of the mining tunnels, Benshan Fifth Tunnel, was renovated and is now open to visitors for $50 NT. Didn't check this out since there was such a long line waiting to enter, visitors have to wear safety helmets.

benshan fifth tunnel
Next to the tunnel is the Gold Building which is the renovated former offices of Taiwan Metal Mining Corp. On the second floor there is a 220.3 kg of pure 999 gold brick that you can actually touch. For such a valuable item to be on display there wasn't much security going on. People were clustering around it, constantly taking pictures so I wasn't able to take a picture of just the gold brick by itself. I did manage to sneak in and stroke the big gold brick before the other tourists crushed me.

giant gold brick
The majority of the time was spent climbing up the mountain to reach the Jinguashi Shinto Shrine also known as the Mountain God Shrine. The shrine was dedicated to the three deities, ├┤kuninushinomikoto, kaneyamahikonomikoto and sarutahikonomikoto.

jinguashi shinto shrine
The climb was hard for my unhealthy, hates exercise body. I would not recommend this climb for the elderly or for children since a lot of the steps leading up to the shrine are crumbling or broken. The views of the Gold Ecological Park and the surrounding area from the shrine is excellent.

teapot mountain
In the upper left hand corner of the picture you will see an odd shaped tip sticking out. On closer inspection it looks like a handle-less teapot that gives the mountain its name. Teapot mountain is called Mt. Wuerchahu and is a symbol of Jinguashi. I actually didn't notice the teapot shape until I did some research and realized that Teapot Mountain is famous and went through my pictures trying to see if I took a snapshot of it. To my delight I found some!

jinguashi crown prince chalet
This building was built by Tanaka Mining Co. to host the Crown Prince during a planned visit to inspect the mining industry in the area. The building has a combination of Japanese and Western elements. An interesting thing is that this building was built entirely without using any nails. From Jinguashi we headed to the Yin-Yang Sea and the Gold Waterfall, by taking bus #826. We got off at the Shueinandong Parking Lot to take a look at the Yin-Yang Sea and the remains of the Shuinandong Smelter, also known by locals as 13 stories, referring to the 13 levels of mines that were established.

yin-yang sea
13 levels
The Yin-Yang Sea is called this due to the mix of yellow and blue water. The Gold Waterfall is one of the sources of the Yin-Yang Sea and its water is yellow due to the pyrite in the ground that has undergone an oxidation reduction reaction to become Fe3+. Is it sad that I barely remember how to solve an redox equation, not wasting my education or anything... The Gold Waterfall is one stop before the parking lot but I didn't stop since a bus comes every 20 minutes and we were on a time crunch. I did manage to get some pictures of the waterfall as the bus passed by it.

gold waterfall
Down by the parking lot, you get a better look at how yellow the water becomes.

This river came from the Gold Waterfall and is heading towards the sea. I actually think the yellow is very beautiful since its such a deep, vibrant color. Also look at how all the rocks are stained yellow due to the water. So amazing!

close up view of the yin-yang sea
The Details
Train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang cost: $44 NT Easy Card or $49 NT for a ticket
From Ruifang Train Station, make a left on the busy street in front of the station and stay on the right hand side of the street. Continue walking straight, the bus stop to Jinguashi is located a little pass the police station. Buses that go to Jinguashi include lines: 1013, 1062, and 825. Buses cost around $15 NT one way. Jinguashi is the last stop and stops right in front of the Gold Ecological Park.

Gold Ecological Park
No. 8, Jinguang Rd., Ruifang Dist., New Taipei City 22450, Taiwan
M-F 9:30am - 5pm; closed first Monday of every month
tel: 886-2-24962800
admission: free

From Jinguashi to see the Gold Waterfall and the Yin-Yang Sea catch the bus line #826, cost $15 NT, the ride lasts 15 minutes. Catch the same bus back up the mountain to Jiufen.

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