Jiu-fen Jiu-fen is one of Taiwan’s traditional gold mining communities. A long time ago, it was a small, isolated village located high up in the mountains. In the 1800’s, it became a prosperous gold-mining town. Around 1950, the gold supply depleted and Jiu-fen’s recognition declined. It wasn’t until 1989 when an award winning movie, “A City of Sadness” was filmed there. Afterwards, other international movies and the popular Korean drama “On Air” were also filmed in Jiu-fen. Other people fell in love with its breathtaking scenery and old-fashioned streets. As a result, Jiu-fen became a popular destination for tourists, and a hideaway for Taiwanese locals. Jiu-fen’s streets were also used as a model in the popular Japanese anime movie “Spirited Away.” I visited Jiu-fen with my Chinese tutor and some friends. We went in the evening, when the sun set behind the mountains and the lanterns lit up the street with their brilliant, red glow. We first had to go to by train from Taipei to Ruifen station, then take a bus to Jiu-fen. The town was almost hidden up in the mountains and the roads were steep and curvy, but the scenery was beautiful. We entered through the main street, Shu-chi Rd. It was a narrow, winding road full of people, vendors, and of course the red lanterns that lined both sides of the street. To me, it looked just like the old Chinese streets that I saw in picture books I read as a child. Many things I saw in Jiu-fen were cheaper than what I had seen in Taipei. They sold three bags Taiwan’s famous high mountain oolong tea for 600$NT. In Taipei, one bag of the exact same tea was 600$NT! There were so many different varieties of food on the old street. The most popular delicacy was the dishes and snacks made with taro, a tropical vegetable. My tutor Xian told me, “In Jiu-fen, they deep fry it so it looks like small, chewy balls. Then, they put it in soup that you can eat hot or cold.” I did get to eat some steamed taro cakes on Shu-Chi Rd., but I wanted to save room for the taro soup. We went to Wang Qing Xiao Zhu, a very old teahouse which is very famous for its food and its view of the mountains, town, and ocean that can be seen from the windows. We had to leave the main road and go up to the top of some stairs to get to it. The soup and taro were sweet, and also had rice and red beans mixed in. Afterwards, we explored some more and descended the stairs to take more pictures. The old, stone staircase winded and curved like the streets, and the red lanterns lit the way. This scene is very common on Taiwanese postcards. At the bottom of the stairs was another famous restaurant, along with the Sheng-Ping movie theater, built during the time Japan dominated Taiwan. Many movies and commercials were filmed here. Jiu-fen is definitely a must-see town for tourists, its old Chinese feel and beautiful scenery is unforgettable.