Juifen is a small little town on top of a mountain just an hour east of Taipei. We had heard that this is where Studio Ghibli got their inspiration to create the movie Spirited Away, which is our favorite Studio Ghibli anime movie. For those of you who don’t know, Studio Ghibli is the equivalent to Disney movies in Japan. We caught a train to Ruifang and then jumped on a bus that took us up the winding roads to Juifen.
We arrived at our stop and were instantly lost, due to the many narrow winding streets and alleys with no names on it. By the time we found our hostel First Stop we were beyond sweaty and annoyed.
Since the previous day adventure to Wulai did not pull through in the swimming realm, we still had swimming on our mind. As we sat covered in sweat, we knew there was no way we could not go for a swim, especially with the ocean so close. So our hostel called us a Taxi, which took us to Keelung where there was a free local swimming pool..in the ocean! We were able to explore coast and even saw Fugu(blowfish) aka…a poisonous and deadly fish if not eaten the right way, in its natural environment! The swimming area was unique, to say the least. It was a man made cement swimming pool put in the ocean. There was fresh sea water coming in and out of it so it was definitely clean, and it was refreshing to finally get to swim!
After our swim, we were hungry for lunch so we headed to the Miaokou Night Market, which is considered the oldest and best night market in Taiwan. Our hostel gave us a few recommendations of stalls to try, which helped narrow down our choices. We tried, 100 year old broth, which basically means the original batch of soup started 100 years ago and they have continued to add to it..it was by far THE BEST thing we ate on the entire trip! We next tried a “nutritional” sandwich, which was a deep fried veggie sandwich; literally deep fried! Followed by, an oyster omelette which was gross. I mean who wants raw oysters in an omelette?
Full and cooled down we headed back to Juifen which was only 20 minutes away. We were excited to explore the little streets of shops, and restaurants. It was pretty crowded due to the narrow streets but we took our time and took it all in. It was truly so enchanting, at one point we found this little cave like tunnel went through it and found an amazing tea house that overlooked the ocean! We of course stopped here to have some traditional Oolong tea, which Taiwan is known for.
As the sun was starting to set we found ourselves a nice overlook, and town began to look more like a scene from Spirited Away! What a magical and romantic day!