The scenic town of Ruifang serves as a great base for visiting some the nicest tourist attractions in Northeast Taiwan. Originally a stop along the route towards the formerly profitable coal and gold mining towns nearby such as Jiufen, Jinguashi, Houtong (Cat Village), and Pingxi (平溪), Ruifang developed into a quaint transit town with a nearby food market and ample transportation options.
Grandpa's neighborhood in Ruifang.
Walking path behind the houses to the main shopping/bus/train town in Ruifang.
Definitely an older part of town. Many fishermen still come down early in the morning to fish.
"Dragon phoenix leg is a very important and unforgettable night market food for a lot of Taiwanese people. It originates from those small fishing village around north coast of Taiwan. A long time ago, Taiwan was a very poor country but while one chicken only has two legs most families had more than two children, it’s never enough for children to eat. So, parents used a little bit of fish and pork with some vegetable to make this dragon phoenix leg snack for children. This dish looks a bit like a drumstick and so we entitled it Dragon Phoenix Leg." - Chef Liv, Egg Wan's Food Odyssey Blog.
Tour Stop Number 1
Houtong Cat Village
Houtong was once a rich small mining town in Ruifang, renowned for a well-preserved culture surrounding its railway, which was built during the Japanese rule of Taiwan. During its prosperous years, the area produced around 220,000 tons of coal per year, the largest coal output of a single area in Taiwan. This attracted many immigrants to the area, which further spurred the town's growth to as many as 900 households with a population of more than 6,000 people. The last facility built in the area was a coal purification factory, built in 1920.
As the coal mining industry began to decline in the 1990s, the area also declined. Young residents started to emigrate to look for other opportunities, and eventually only few hundred residents remained once the mining industry had died out.
However, things started taking a turn for the better from 2008, when a local cat lover organized volunteers to start offering abandoned cats a better life. They posted the cats' pictures online, resulting in an overwhelming response from other cat lovers around the nation. Soon, Houtong became a center for cat lovers as word spread, and the number of cats living there increased – thus reviving a declining village, and transforming it into a tourist destination. Some cats are sterilized, and will have one of their ears trimmed as confirmation – this helps to keep check on the local population of cats, and also helps identify new cats which enter into the village.
The village features shops, cafes and relaxing places for tourists. It is also located near the origin of the Keelung River. The pristine, green waters of the river are accessible via steps. Drivers entering the town are greeted with a sign that reads A lot of stray cats here. A special bridge has been constructed above the busy railway, to allow safe passage for the cats.
These cats roam into stores too!
九份 or Juifen Old Street
Feel spirited away in this decommissioned gold mining mountain town, originally built by the Japanese and now a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and culture.
Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. During World War II, the town housed a Japanese prisoner of war camp where captured Allied Force soldiers (mainly British) were forced to work in the gold mines. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture.
Block of peanut brittle.
The flour crepe is laid out, then peanut candy shavings are placed on top from a wooden tool which is used to shave the peanut candy block. Three scoops of ice cream are set in a row on top, then another layer of peanut candy shavings, and then coriander. The edges are folded in and then it’s rolled like a wrap or burrito and placed in a plastic bag.
Tour Stop Number 4 - 黃金瀑布 Golden Falls
The North East Coast of Taiwan is a beautiful drive with the Pacific Ocean on one side of the road and mountains rising high above on the other. The area near the Golden Waterfall is known as Jinguashi (金瓜石) and was an important area for gold mining during the Japanese occupation. Today there isn't any more gold to be found but there are some pretty cool ruins of the abandoned gold mining factory.
南雅奇石 Nanya Rock Formations
Nanya, otherwise known as "Nanya Peculiar Rocks" (南雅奇石) is considered the 'gateway' to the North East Coast (北海岸) which happens to be one of the most beautiful drives in Taiwan. The drive along the coast features some of Taiwan's most iconic beauty with the Pacific Ocean on one side and giant mountains that seem to rise out of nowhere on the other.
The great thing about Nanya is that it is just a simple stop on the side of the road along the coast. Lot's of parking for cars and mopeds.
Tour Stop Number 6 -龍洞灣岬步道 Longdong Bay Promontory trail
The northeast corner has two cliffs on the landscape trail, one is the nose angle trail, the other is the current Longdong Bay Promontory trail, two trails are condescending, you can enjoy the magnificent sea view, Longdong Bay Cape Trail from the West Lingyan Temple entrance To the two-view gazebo distance of about 2 km, although the distance is not long, but stretched out of the trail can view the magnificent sea view and Longdong Cape coast cliffs, there is a secret point of view is from the West Lingyan Temple entrance near the view of the pavilion Next to the cliffs of the path down to the coastal rock Ping, in the bottom of the rock can really appreciate the layers of coastal scenery and a world-class landscape of the Longdong Cape cliffs .
三貂角燈塔 Sandiaojiao Cape Lighthouse
Located in Taiwan's eastern head of the head of the three towel lighthouse, is an important indicator of the Pacific region, "Taiwan's eyes," said, built in the Republic of China 24 years, when the Japanese specific imported crystal glass as a light gun, The war was also damaged, so far the scars are still visible, as a historical testimony, in the Republic of China 35 years to re-repair, tower 16.5 meters long, every 28 seconds with flash white, red twice, a range of about 25 nautical miles The By the Ma Gang near the fork in the direction of the indicators and can be reached; lighthouse with exhibition room display and lighthouse-related equipment and information, is the only open in the northern region to provide a lighthouse for people to visit.
Street Eats - Green Onion Pancakes!!!
Street Eats Breakfast - Rice Milk, Salty Soy Milk, Fried Dough, Green Onion Pancakes, and Rice Ball
Street Eats Lunch - Fish and Seaweed Soup and Oyster Omelette
At 1:47 am on September 21st, 1999, the most powerful earthquake to hit Taiwan in over a century (measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale) struck the center of the island, killing 2,415 people. Over 11,000 were seriously injured, and damage to property (many of the buildings that fell were shoddily constructed or designed to inadequate safety standards) was estimated at NT$300 billion.
The quake has become part of the national conscience (most people still usually refer to it as simply “921”, after the date on which it struck) and although the island has well and truly moved on, plenty of memories of that awful night remain to this day. Like Jiufenershan, a place guaranteed to bring home the primeval power of the catastrophe.
Turn south off the main Caotun to Puli Road in Nantou into county route 147 following a stream through an attractive valley between the foothills of the island’s central mountain range and after a few kilometers, a signpost (with the intriguing English translations “Explosion Site” and “Sloping House”) points up an even smaller, bumpier road climbing up the hillside to Jiufenershan, close to the epicenter of Taiwan’s great 921 earthquake. A huge landslide, triggered by the quake dislodged an estimated 3.5 million cubic tons of the hillside, which tumbled into the valley below, killing many people, and creating two new lakes by damming a pair of streams.
Street Eats - Taiwanese Delicacy - 臭豆腐 Stinky Tofu!!!!
365 x 2 = 730 Steps and No Tea Eggs!
Rest Stop - Feng Chia Traveler's Lodge