The Golden City's Agreeable Manners

-Pictures and words by Taipei County Government
Translated by Tre Gordon

More than three years ago, the current curator of the Gold Ecological Park met with his partners in a mountain city located in Taiwan's northeastern corner. Their plan was to put their vitality and creativity to use to re-introduce this place to the world. Now, they can proudly announce, "We've done it!" If you're curious about what it was that fascinated them enough to do this, join us on a trip to the Jiguashi Gold Ecological Park and discover for yourself the magic this place possesses.

First, let's take the train to the Rueifang railroad station. Across the street from the rail station is the Keelung bus station. We can reach the Gold Ecological Park directly from here by bus. Along the way, you notice that the scenery around you gradually changes from busy streets to emerald-green mountainsides. At one turn, the blue ocean suddenly appears before you. To your astonishment, the Gold Ecological Park also suddenly appears, as you marvel at the fresh air surrounding you.

The Gold Ecological Park is located in northeastern Taiwan at Jiguashi in Taipei County's Rueifang township. It's a mining mountain city situated on a three-sided circular mountain with one side facing the ocean. In the past, it represented a bright spot in the history of Taiwan's mining industry. Today, the Gold Ecological Park combines the richness of the area's natural ecology and the mining industry's cultural history to present this destination to the world as a natural, ecologically-friendly destination.
The park revolves around three main buildings: the Environmental Education Center, the Crown Prince Chalet and the Museum of Gold. The Environmental Education Building, which was reconstructed from an old office building, introduces to us Jiguashi's ecological environment and geological ore-body characteristics. One can also find out where the gold in Jiguashi came from. Located on the second floor of this building is a theatre and special exhibition area. In addition to showing a park overview film, special exhibitions held here at unscheduled times are a special surprise, like finding a lost treasure. On June, 23 the park will be holding a special exhibition for its Gold Carnival, "The Fundamental Metal Craft Technical Talents Training Class". This allows visitors the opportunity to peek into the world of various metals.

The Crown Prince Chalet is a typical Japanese high-class-style building constructed in 1922. The Japanese courtyard in the front is elegantly designed and in the backyard you can see a mini golf course. The first floor of the Museum of Gold was remodeled to present the mining history and culture of Jiguashi. There are also proportionate tunnel models of the mines taking you on a journey of gold discovery in Jinguashi. On the second floor, you will find art works mainly created around a gold theme, while admiring exquisite art created by some of Taiwan's most renowned metal artists. You can also personally touch a world record-breaking 99.9% pure-gold nugget weighing 200.3 kg. Feel like taking it home? You'd better reconsider that idea because the nugget is under 24-hour surveillance, as cameras connected to the Internet allow for round-the-clock viewing of the nugget. Purchase a ticket for the cheap price of NT$100 and you can visit all three of these sites--an unbeatable deal.

You shouldn't go home empty-handed after visiting this golden mountain city. The Gold Ecological Park allows you to experience firsthand the conditions of working in a mine. The park has the BenShan Fifth Tunnel Experience and the Gold-Panning Experience for you to try out, as you go into the tunnels for a real-life experience. You can also take part in simulated early-mining work and take home any gold powder that you happen to discover while panning for gold.

After you've finished visiting the park, you can follow the path next to BenShan Fifth Tunnel and arrive at the "Remains of the Gold Temple" site. Accompanying you along the way is the beauty of Jiguashi's natural environment. Standing in front of the temple remains, you can take the time to admire the history of the village here. Then follow along the ancient steps of the Old Chitang Alley, known as "Jiguashi's Little Ginza", and admire distant roofs made with overlapping black oiled felt. You will also notice many historical merchant stores here, helping take you back to the old days. Inside the stores there are old-fashioned alcohol and tobacco display cases and visitors shouldn't miss a delicious local treat, handmade grass cakes.

It's worthwhile for you to spend some time in Jiguashi and enjoy your interaction with nature. You can choose to spend a night in the facilities here and enjoy a unique evening experience in a mountain city. After a good night's rest, set out to randomly discover the various remains of mining sites like the "Remains of the 13 Levels", which resemble the ancient city of Pompeii. In the past, this was an important mine sorting field. To get there, start from the Shueinandong Parking Lot and follow the Jin-Shui Highway upwards. After about 15 minutes, you'll be able to see the "Gold Waterfalls" which appear to be golden in the sunlight. Follow the fork in the road and reach the area above the "Remains of the 13 Levels", where you can admire the view of the Yinyang seaside and the "Abandoned Smoke Tunnel" site.

It's difficult to describe, but a visit to Jiguashi and experiencing its unique charm bring the same magical charm that the the park curator and his friends first enjoyed there. A visit to Jiguashi Gold Ecological Park will help you experience for yourself the unique appeal that this ancient mountain city possesses. For related information, please visit the Gold Ecological Park's website at http://www.gep.tpc.gov.tw

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