Jiufen, Taiwan: Street Food, Ocean Views, and Memories of Gold

Epoch Times
Date: November 1, 2019
By: Crystal Shi

Jiufen, a town tucked into the mountains. (Shutterstock)

JIUFEN, Taiwan—The picturesque town of Jiufen, nestled in the green, perennially fog-shrouded mountains that hug Taiwan’s northeastern coast, once pulsed with the promise of gold. At the height of the region’s gold rush, this was the center of the action.

But on a recent visit, I joined crowds of tourists in search of other riches: stunning ocean vistas, legendary local eats, and a sort of nostalgic charm that permeates every narrow, lantern-lit cobblestone street. The days of gold mining have long gone, but the former mining town has since struck a new kind of gold: tourism.

Golden Days

The story begins in the early 1890s, when a group of railroad construction workers, in the midst of washing their rice bowls, found specks of the precious mineral in the Keelung River. The unexpected discovery triggered a gold rush, and crowds of hopeful prospectors descended upon the riverbanks to try their luck.

In 1894, the source of that gold was traced to a huge deposit in the mountains around Jiufen. The region’s gold mining era soon took off in earnest—spearheaded by the Japanese, who colonized the island the following year—and as the industry boomed, the mountain towns at its center swelled with miners and newfound riches. By the 1930s, Jiufen had gone from an isolated farming village to a mining hub so prosperous it earned the nickname “Little Shanghai.”     [FULL  STORY]

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