Our daughter and her boyfriend were visiting us recently (visitors! we had visitors!) so we took them to Keelung, one of our favorite places.
They had already visited us for a week then went to Thailand for a week to visit his sister and were stopping by for 24 hours on their way back to New York. We had a lot to pack into 24 hours.
We picked them up from the airport and whisked them to the hotel. Their plane was late so we thought we had to skip the first market, but they were ready for an adventure. First stop…Keelung Night Market. Jaime was willing to try anything.
We nearly closed down the market at 1 am and staggered back to the hotel. We had a slow start the next morning. But there was time to buy a couple kites from the vendors outside the fish market.
Then it was into the fish market. There is an aquarium recently opened in Keelung, but I don’t know how it can compete with the variety seen in this fish market. The fish were so fresh that the market didn’t smell fishy at all. And the colors!
After a little breakfast sashimi,
we took our guests along the coast and up the mountains to the old gold mining town of Jiufen. Now it is primarily a tourist town. The old street is fascinating. It’s filled with interesting stalls and shops.
Then it was time for a quick drive back to the airport and waving farewell to Laine and Jaime.
We took a few days to explore more of the area around Keelung before summer school started. As we were driving highway 2 around the northern coast of Taiwan (highly recommended – very scenic), we ran across this just outside of Jinshan.
So of course we had to stop to explore.
Clearly this is intended for a nighttime light show. There were a few people around “getting ready for the real tourists” and they decided to just let us explore rather than try to have a conversation with people who were so clearly foreigners.
The backdrops were filled with different scenes and figures that light up and move. In the center there was a bit of a stage for live performances.
The whole thing looked like it could be quickly put together from printed plastic sheets and bamboo scaffolding.
The offices, like many inexpensive buildings here, were made of repurposed shipping containers.
This place was fascinating. I think it is the Confucian (?) equivalent to vacation bible school. The hotel manager suggested that it was for the blessing the local fishermen at the start of the squid fishing season. I wish that we had been able to arrange our trip to go back for an evening show. We’ll keep this in mind for next summer.
We like Keelung. It’s relatively easy to get to on the highway, and the scenery is spectacular. Highway 2 from Yilan to Keelung is stunning – cliffs to the sea, rocks in the water, twisty coastline. It’s probably as dramatic as highway 8 to Taroko but less nerve-wracking. Again, pictures just don’t do this justice.
Our friend from Hualien recommended both Jioufen and Yelin. Due to the holiday traffic we didn’t get to Yelin but we did go up the mountain to Jioufen. Wow! This is a town I’d like to see more of. The drive up was amazing.
Then we came from the peace and quiet of the country road into a bustling town clinging to the side of the mountain. It was overwhelming (thus, no pictures). Our initial plan was to find a place to stay overnight but it was so busy and the road so cramped that we quickly abandoned that idea. I think the best way to experience this town is to park your car and get out and walk up and down the steep streets. Plenty of tourism opportunities here. And the views of the ocean are incredible.
We popped out of the far side of Jioufen and down the mountain into the outskirts of Keelung City. On the way into town we found the Blue Ocean Hotel. That turned out to be a great choice. It’s right across the street from the fish market. The rooms were very quiet and comfortable – even posh. We took the cheap room with no view, but we’ll be back another time for a room with an ocean view. Lovely.
A quick trip through the fish market to see all the different kinds of fish and crab and even geoduck!
Then we were off to the justly renowned Keelung Night Market for dinner and a stroll. This night market has permanent stalls. I lost count of how many dishes we tried. Crab, vegetable rolls, fresh squeezed orange juice, pineapple shaved ice, pork pies, and more. All of it delicious.