Jiufen, Taiwan: City of Dreams
Jiufen is often claimed as the inspiration behind Hayao Miyazaki's film Spirited Away (though Wikipedia states that Miyazaki denies the claim). It's located on a mountain and can be reached by bus or taxi. I went with my cousins, Carol and Celia, by taxi. There were a lot of turns and curves on the way up, so if you get carsick easily, close your eyes!
Some people call Jiufen the "City of Sadness" because of the film A City of Sadness, filmed in Jiufen. I'd like to call it the "City of Dreams" because of how beautiful it is.
Part of Jiufen felt like a big night market. Jiufen Old Street has tons of shops selling food and souvenirs. It's impossible to miss it - so many people head in that direction. It's not just one street; you can wander for at least an hour admiring everything and taking the twists and turns.
My favorite place in Jiufen Old Street was a place called Jioufen Teahouse. There are multiple teahouses (including some very photographed ones that I'll show soon) but this one was more hidden. It looks like this on the outside:
Everything in the teahouse was really cute!
Later we would drink tea there during sunset, but first we visited the most photographed place of Jiufen. There were so many people here, and the people in the lower right corner only shows a little bit. The place got even more crowded at night.
We sipped oolong tea at the Jioufen Teahouse and watched the sunset. You can also see a bit of the famous teahouses from here.
One of the most memorable sunsets of all time :)
After the sun set, we went back down to see the famous spot.
Before leaving, we walked around again. Originally we hadn't planned to stay past the afternoon but I'm glad we did! Jiufen really comes alive around the evening, though about an hour after sunset, we saw noticeably less people.
The lanterns were absolutely gorgeous.
Carol modeling for me outside a restaurant :)
I didn't expect to love Jiufen so much. It was my first time going, and it will definitely be one of the first places I take friends if they come travel with me :)