While we were staying in Taipei, we took a day trip to New Taipei City to explore Jinguashi. The drive there was incredibly gorgeous, sweeping ocean views and mountain landscapes. We drove past the beaches and a few waterfalls, all the way to the top of Jingua Rock (Jinguashi). You can also get to the museum by bus, and there were a ton of tour buses as well!
We circled the parking lot a few times (it’s very small!) and headed inside. The Museum of Gold was opened by the Taipei County Government, and it’s main priority was to preserve the natural resources, mining relics, historical memories, landscape, and cultural property of Jinguashi (named a world heritage site in 2002). Thus, Taiwan’s first eco-museum was born. Taiwan is super rich in natural resources and has a healthy agriculture for being such a small island. Culture based on agriculture dates back thousands of years, 3000 BC, sometime after Dutch colonization of the island. There were also many immigrants from different parts of China and even Spain took a swing at northern settlement on the island, but they were driven out.
The walk to the first building was lined with old houses and an old elementary school of the mountain village. Also, there were a handful of cute stray cats. I learned the Chinese word for cat that day. Anyways, the Gold Museum still had the old mining facilities and tools around and as we approached the Environmental building, we passed trees, old trolleys, and super photogenic animals.
We played around in some of the old (and non-functioning) gold and mineral carts. Look how cute they are y’all.
The trees and foliage were gorgeous! But after a few minutes, we headed inside the first building. This is a great place for kids as well, granted they can climb stairs, but with plenty of rest stops, it shouldn’t be too bad as long as you don’t take them on any long hikes.
The first building gave a general history of Jinguashi and the importance the region’s natural resources played in shaping Jinguashi as well as Taiwan as a whole. We watched a video on how the mines worked and a short recap on the Japanese POW camp. Japan held possession of Taiwan for 50 years after defeating the Chinese navy back in 1895. It was…a little strange to see such fresh imperialism preserved, but that’s history for you. They had a lot of gold for display, including jewelry and old currency, and the Museum of Gold houses a huge brick of gold, seriously a world record at 220kg, 999 pure gold. You can touch it and everything, but yanno, make sure to use the hand sanitizer after haha.
We moved along from the mines and onto a few other displays of the village. They had a workshop set up for tourist to filter gold through water, jewelry made from minerals of the mountain, and some local artwork of the area.
There is also a tea house where you can stop and rest your feet after all the stairs. Trust me, you’re going to want to rest before continuing on.
(Look at that waffle though)
That said, the museum is unfortunately not very wheelchair accessible. Bring shades because, although the foliage is beautiful, the sun is relentless.
There are a few different trails to explore, most of them leading to the peak of a mountain or a stunning vantage point. It was hot, but like a fool, I kept my jacket on. Up ahead, you can see the top of Teapot Mountain. Can you tell why they call it Teapot Mountain?
We didn’t take the trail to the top of Teapot Mountain, but you can easily (I’m using that term lightly) reach the top during your quick day trip to the Gold Museum. You can even climb inside of the teapot! The mountain still has traces of sulfur that had steamed up from deep inside the mountain – how cool would it have been to see the steam coming out of the Teapot??! If only I was a million years older. Alas.
Our trail led us in a different direction, however.
At the top of another mountain, were the remnants of a Japanese Shrine, leftover from Japanese rule of the area. Like every other part of the museum, the climb was steep. And long. And hot. I’m honestly surprised my friends didn’t ditch me for going so slowly, they are the real MVP of the trip ahha.
These pillars are all that is left of was once a main hall of the Shrine, or the Honden. From the top, you could see where the sky blended into the ocean, and all the houses and streets nestled between the hills. It was the perfect place to sit and reflect on life, and also recover from all the stairs, haha.
My trip to Jiufen was one of my favorite parts of Taiwan. After, we went to the town that Spirited Away was based off of and I had THE BEST BOBA TEA IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. We lit floating lanterns and everything, it was mad cute (although, pretty sure the lanterns aren’t very good for the environment, but it was a one-time thing). I felt inspired from this mountain village, I feel like I want to write a book about it or something. Would you guys want to read it?
If you have a day to spare, I would DEFINITELY recommend taking a trip out to Jinguashi and the Gold Musuem.