Thursday, March 23, 2017

Asia Mega Tour II - Jinguashi And Jiufen

Much as the United States was defined by the gold rush to California in 1849, so too did the discovery of gold in the north of Taiwan in the late 1890's have a heavy influence on Taiwan. Our trip today was to the two main sites of the gold mining activity, Jinguashi and Jiufen.

It is important to understand the history behind these two locations. At the time that gold was discovered, control of Taiwan had just been transferred from China to Japan as a result of Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War.  The Japanese took control of the mining of gold. They divided the land in half. On one, Jinguashi, they maintained complete control and organized a highly mechanized, industrial approach to the mining. On the other, Jiufen, they gave a concession to a powerful and rich family, the Yen family. The Yens in turn leased out rights for individual entrepreneurs to dig mines.

On the Japanese side, things were relatively sedate and controlled. On the Taiwanese side, it was robust capitalism. For a time the town of Jiufen was as rich as any in East Asian and was called little Shanghai. 

Our guide Wei, owner of Meet My Guide, took us all around and to parts of the area that are often not visited by the big tours the visit. Let's dig into the pictures.

It is about an hour's drive north of Taipei to get to the two towns which are on the Northern coast. You may have noticed from our prior posts that it has been grey, grey, grey since we've been in Taiwan but mercifully not rain. Even the days they've predicted rain have been dry. And the weather has ranged from highs in the mid 60's to highs in the mid 70's. Generally, very comfortable and a welcome change from the cold of Japan. The first thing that Wei did was drive us up to this lookout to give us a view of the Jinguashi facilities from above and the area in general.
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You can get an idea of the size of operation from these abandoned buildings

This is a picture of water flowing into the sea. You can see from the color the continued influence of the old mining debris from the color.
Our guide Wei

Old rail tracks for getting supplies up to the facilities
When the Japanese came in 1895 they put their influence all through the country. They destroyed many Chinese temples and build Japanese one's instead. This was reversed when the Chinese returned in 1945. This is an abandoned gate to a Japanese temple for the mine.
This area was so important economically to the Japanese that they were going to have the Crown Prince visit. They built this house for him but he never came.
This is a local mountain called the Tea Pot
Then we took a tour in a mine shaft that is maintained for that purpose

Two Chinese temples were preserved when the Japanese came. One was saved because it honored a historical figure from the Han Dynasty that the Japanese honored as well.

The other was one that was dedicated to the god of the land. This was maintained because it was thought it would be bad luck to disturb the land that was essential for mining. 
 This is the original statue of that diety
These are statues that people bring in to get blessed and will be taken by people back to their homes
This temple is unique in that it has Chinese, Japanese and Western design elements. Just as Chinese came to California for the gold rush, so did westerners come to Taiwan for the same. On the main alter are some Western style angels that were produced by local Westerners.

This temple also had a turtle pond (turtles symbolize longevity), something we'd seen in Vietnam.

All around the area were very elaborate cemetaries

 Some views from around town

This particular temple is interesting because that piece on the top is gold ore

 Plaque honoring the miners
Flowers that have nothing to do with anything other than they were pretty
Culinary highlights
Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Lots of meat in a rich broth
Fresh tofu with Thousand Year Old Eggs.
I'm good with the eggs and the tofu was really fresh
And last but not least SIGNS OF THE WORLD
Does this imply that females that don't wear high heel shoes are not 'women'?


alexis said...

this is one of the most interesting sights so far you've shared in Taiwan. Looks like a beautiful town too.

Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Well, I guess if you wear heels that high, you need a convenient parking space.