A Hidden Gem Just Minutes Away from Taipei City
21 February 2015
I visited Taiwan last year, and it left a distinct memory unlike any other. What was most memorable was my trip to Shifen that I'd like to share with everyone. We took a train on the Pingxi Line from bustling Taipei to this green sanctuary that overflows with flora and fauna. It's took us just 40 minutes. It's a place most well-known for its magnificent Chinese sky lanterns that are lit every night, and its scenic lush foliage that provides a respite from the city. Low-lying misty clouds congregated atop the rolling hills to give the place a mystical, and almost dream-like feel.
From the Shifen Railway Station, it was a short trek away to the Shifen Waterfull - one that we enjoyed immensely in the cool weather. Passing by the shops on Shifen Old Street, we took a trip down memory lane filled with nostalgia. Interesting thing was that the souvenir shops were just by the railway tracks! Don't worry, there are signs that are erected to warn the excited tourists from wandering on the tracks. Once in a while, the trains will chug past and drown out all the conversations. It was surreal to see everyone stop what they are doing to observe this. It certainly sent adrenaline pumping, when the fast-moving locomotive was just within the reach of our fingers! We then made our way to the Shifen Waterfall overlooking the Keelung River, with yummy street snacks in our hands. It was as much a treat for the eyes as much as it was for the palate. There was egg custard made in a emptied egg shell. So creamy and luxurious! Another must-try was the handmade taro (yam) balls with mung bean filings - they were just sweet globs of sticky goodness! And deep-fried sweet potato sticks dusted in fragrant plum powder. Simply divine!
We crossed a free-hanging Jingan Suspension Bridge to breathtaking views of the fast-flowing Keelung River, and of course, the Shifen Waterfall - Taiwan's highest. This is certainly Taiwan's version of the Niagara falls with it's impressive 40-metres edge. If one listens attentively enough, would could certainly feel the pulse of nature! At night, we came to do what we had set out to do. We wrote our wishes and lit them up. They ascended like jellyfishes in the sky, glowing up wishes and aspirations from the people. What a sight to behold!