travel

Shifen Old Street: Lanterns, trains, and chicken wings (TW Day 2)

Shifen Old Street taiwan taipei

November 25, 2019 —  The north coast tour we purchased via Klook was coming to an end — with Shifen Old Street as our final tourist destination. We didn’t have much time to roam around and fully enjoy the areas we visited earlier today, but somehow the pacing changed when we got here at Shifen. I didn’t feel the need to chase time and that felt, freeing.

Maybe part of it was because my mom and I had no intention of flying a lantern. You would think there is nothing much to do here if not for that, but I thoroughly enjoyed our short stay. The sidewalks beside the train tracks were filled with souvenir stands, food stalls and of course, crowd. I guess the beauty in this place is that we can enjoy ourselves without the pressure of missing the sights because yeah, there is nothing else to see. Although it was an ordinary street, it gave me a sense of calm and belonging. After all, it’s not everyday that I can watch a train pass by in front of me, and add the laidback mood brought by the warm lights all around.

Out of all the spots we visited today, I enjoyed Shifen Old Street the most. Weird, isn’t it? It didn’t have to impress tourists with flashy structures or Instagrammable sceneries. And who cares if it was unorderly? It had its own charm.

 

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (14)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (15)

Old Street Taiwan (9)

Old Street Taiwan (5)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (16)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (17)

 

This landmark is known for the lantern-flying activity that brings your wishes closer to the heavens, I suppose. Tourists may choose the color of the lantern which, according to Taiwanese tradition, represents a meaning such as wisdom, happiness, wealth, and so on. They will then write down their wishes using a marker, and their guide will help them light it up.

The rain was still pouring when we got to Shifen Old Street in the afternoon. Despite the unfavorable weather, many tourists chose to try lantern-flying activity. It was obvious how the tour guides around were trying to be cautious when releasing the lantern. The blowing wind and the rain did not make it easy. Lots of lanterns just burned on the ground after an attempt to fly. Some of them even landed on the roofs of the houses nearby. I don’t want to be a killjoy here but I have to say, not only the lantern-flying activity was harmful to nature, but it may start a fire in the neighborhood. Scary.

 

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (19)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (18)

 

My most unforgettable experience in Shifen Old Street is getting curious about a chicken wing snack that almost everyone held in their hand. We searched the area and in a little corner found a humble stall grilling this juicy chicken wing stuffed with fried rice. At first, I thought it looked nothing special but the line was long so we joined the bandwagon.

We had to wait but man, it was totally worth it! My mom and I only wanted to try it, so we just bought one piece to share. That was the biggest regret of our Taiwan trip, I tell you. It was so tasty, even the fried rice was savory and full of flaavors, and the BBQ chicken? It was so tender!

I was convinced that we can always buy the chicken wing snack somewhere again in the night market. Well, it turned out that it was a rare find! Perhaps a homemade dish only cooked by the stall in Shifen. Everywhere we went, I think of that chicken!

 

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (20)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (22)

Shifen Old Street Taiwan (21)

 

Guide to Shifen Old Street

    • Bring a jacket, the wind is very strong in this area.
    • Wear shoes fit for long walks.
    • It’s rare to catch a spot without a person taking a photo near it. Always be on alert with your camera and poses so you could have a money shot to bring home.
    • Buy as many stuffed chicken wing as you can (so darn good!)
    • Prices of the lanterns are regulated: NTD 150 for a single color, NTD 200 for 4 colors, and NTD 350 for 8 colors.

 

Itinerary and Budget

Day 2
8:15 AM Meetup at GaKuden Bakery nearby Ximen Station 4
8:30 AM Start tour, ETD to Yehliu Geopark ₱ 1,010/head (daytour package from Klook, with Yehliu Entrance Ticket)
9:30 AM ETA Yehliu Geopark, free time
10:40 AM ETD to Ying Yang Sea, and 13 Layers Remains
11:25 AM Ying Yang Sea + 13 Layer Remains
11:40 AM ETD to Golden Waterfall NTD 75/person
11:50 AM ETA at Golden Waterfall
12:00 PM ETD to Jiufen
12:10 PM ETA at Jiufen, free time
2:10 PM ETD to Shifen Waterfall
2:50 PM ETA at Shifen Waterfall, tour
3:40 PM ETD to Shifen Old Street
3:50 PM ETA at Shifen Old Street, free time
5:00 PM ETD to Ximen Exit 4
6:15 PM ETA at Ximen Exit 4
6:20 PM Back to Hotel, washup
6:50 PM ETD to Shihlin Night Market, via MRT
7:10 PM ETA at Shihlin Night Market
9:00 PM ETD to Hotel, via MRT

 

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