We changed our original plan from visiting Yehliu to Shifen (十分), as our driver told us that Yehliu is very popular with China tour groups given that there are spacious carparks available for tour coaches to park = it will be very crowded. In addition, the thought of being able to release sky lanterns (天灯) at Shifen made me excited. Hence we decided to tell our driver to drive us to Shifen instead. 🙂
Shifen (原来的意思是“十份”) got its name as there used to be 10 families working together to build their homes in the town. The 40 min ride from Jiufen to Shifen was a long winding road on the hill (or is it mountain?), but fortunately our driver drove very carefully & so we didn’t feel nauseous. He even asked if we wanted to wind down the windows so as to breathe some fresh air, & indeed it was cool & refreshing. 😉
Our first stop at Shifen was the Shifen waterfall (十分瀑布). The iconic suspension bridge was undergoing renovation works when we visited. Sad…… if not we could have visited the Eyeglass Waterfall (眼睛洞瀑布) as well, which got its name as it looks like a pair of glasses from afar.
We had to pay NTD80 (about S$3.40) entrance fee per pax to view the Shifen waterfall. Since we were already there, not much choice but to pay (there were 2 big dogs lying down at the entrance, literally behaving like watchdogs :P)……
As a cascade waterfall similar to Niagara Falls, where the bedrock slopes in the opposite direction of the water flow, Shifen Waterfall is known as “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls” & is the largest waterfall along the Pingxi (平溪) Line. Torrents of water tumble down thunderously from the precipice into the deep pool beneath, creating a breathtaking sight. After I visited the waterfall, I realised the entrance fee is actually quite reasonable, since it is meant to upkeep the waterfall natural beauty. I read that because the waterfall is shrouded in mist for most of the time, iridescent rainbows often appear against a clear sky when the sun shines on the droplets of the waterfall. Therefore, Shifen Waterfall is also called the “Rainbow Pond.”
We stayed at the waterfall for about 15 min before returning to our cab for the next destination – Shifen Old Street (十分老街).
Our driver told us that this is a recommended place to release sky lanterns as the price here is reasonable. After “studying” the price menu for a while, we both took up the NTD150 (about S$6.40) 4-colour sky lantern package. The lantern I opted for was the most popular package as it covers: career, money, love & health luck. Good for people like me who want all the good luck in life. 😛
Letting sky lanterns rise is a significant ritual in Taiwan, & every year, a Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the lunar month, with the first held in 1999 at Pingxi. People will have their wishes written on the lanterns, & release them to the skies, praying for their written wishes to come true (祈福).
It wasn’t easy to write with the calligraphy brush provided though, I thought my words looked quite illegible & horrible haha. Anyhow I took about 10 min to finish writing on all 4 sides of my lantern & waited for my friend to finish hers before we could release our lanterns. It was exciting to see the sky lantern being lit up, let go & rise up into the air, although we could feel our legs warming up in the process of lighting the lanterns! 🙂
After releasing our sky lanterns written with our wishes, we also went into the shop to buy some sky lantern souvenirs back home. Hope all our wishes will come true! 🙂
That marked the end of our day trip to Jiufen + Shifen, with the driver sending us back to Taipei City’s Wufenpu Wholesale Market (五分埔) as requested (the package included returning to Taipei but we didn’t want to return to the hotel yet). We paid a total of NTD2,300 for this taxi service (about S$98), not cheap but is very convenient. The taxi can take up to 4 passengers, so most economical if you are travelling in a group of 4. 🙂
NB: In case you are interested in engaging the service of our driver, his name is 余春明 (Yu Chun Ming) & mobile number is +886-(0)931-385146. 🙂