Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mining Towns (Jiufen, Jinguashi)

Things have been busy, especially with school. Living here has settled into a kind of rhythm, but it's a pretty fast-paced rhythm. I feel like the end of my time here is coming so quickly. That is partly a consequence of having met so many interesting people I think. It's an odd feeling to meet someone really fascinating and think, I just don't have time to really get to know them before the world scatters us to the winds.

I don't have much time this morning, so I am just posting a few things that I actually have pictures of. First, the outdoor performance of the Cloud Gate Theater. Mixed reviews on that--I guess I'm just getting too old to sit on a stone ground for a long stretch of time, and also, what interested me about the group was the cultural depth of their performances. The outdoor performance, though, was a bunch of Chinese pop songs that I didn't know. It still was amazing, the things that a body can do, I admit. Photography of the performance itself was not allowed, but here are a couple shots of the scene.

That same weekend, I also went to Jiufen with one of my grad school classmates. Jiufen is an old mining town outside of Taipei. It was also the inspiration for the little town in the movie Spirited Away. Someone with more time than me made an awesome set of comparison shots.

I didn't really take enough pictures to do the place justice, but here are a few. First, a couple of shots from the bus-stop in Ruifang.

So Many Fish! --In Ruifang

Ruifang Scenery
Next, Jiufen itself. The touristy part of it is a maze of tunnels full of delicious things to eat and quirky things to buy. It is one of those places where having only one stomach is a sad sad thing. All the Jiufen specialties are profoundly filling and don't come in small portions. I think that is their way of making sure you come back. The tunnels are dug into the mountainside (or maybe just build on the mountainside, it's a little unclear) so sometimes you will come out into gorgeous views. It's a really fun place to visit.

Jiufen Landscape

And Me

Narrow Passageway in Jiufen

Jiufen Teahouse

Giant Sheet of Peanut Candy

Having only spent a fraction of the time I would have liked to have spent in Jiufen, we headed on to Jinguashi. I had been to Jiufen twelve years ago, and back then I'm not sure Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum yet existed. It has a new-ish feel. It is a disused mine trying to make the conversion to tourist attraction. They do have a lot of cool mining stuff, and it's kind of hands on. You can climb into the traincars and do a self-guided tour of some old mining tunnels. They were peopled with wax miners and rang with a kind of eerie recorded sound-track.

Spastic Kid in a Mining Car

Weird Me by a Mining Car

Us in the Mining Car

Mysterious Hat

Turned out to be Hardhat Liner

In the Tunnel

He is Made to Look so Endearing
I am out of time for now. But just a couple of (non-mining related) parting shots from Jinguashi:

A Guy Playing a Saw--Very Beautifully Too

A Metal Tree Against the Mountain

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