Friday, August 15, 2014

Jinguashi (金瓜石) - Gold Ecological Park (黃金博物園區) - Benshan Fifth Tunnel (本山五坑) - Gold Museum (黃金博物館) - Jinguashi Shinto Shrine (金瓜石神社遺址) - Crown Prince Chalet (太子賓館)- Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布) [Taiwan Day 348: Gold Digger - Aug. 14, 2014]



You’re just a gold digger in red”. I remembered this famous line from a Philippine TV drama series where the actresses exchange words that one would never forget. My adventure for this Taiwan Day 348 was not about TV dramas but about the gold mining town of Jinguashi (金瓜石) [Filipino: jin-gwa-shi] where I learned a lot of things about the history, culture and industry of gold digging in Taiwan.

















Jinguashi is in Ruifang District of New Taipei City and it is just one bus ride away from Jiufen which I visited in Taiwan Day 252 (Spirited Away). From Ruifang Train Station, I boarded Bus 1062 and then I alighted at the Gold Ecological Park bus stop. The Gold Ecological Park is the mining site of the Taiwan Metal Mining Corporation. However the company was forced to close due to debts in 1987. The Taiwanese government revived the place as a tourist spot as part of the New Taipei City Special Scenic Area and now known as the Gold Ecological Park.
















Even before the Japanese colonized Taiwan and formally started the island’s mining industry. Stories of golden sands gathered from a river have already spread. A gold rush begun and the rest was history. The mountains of Jinguashi are rocky and they are said to be rich in minerals. The Japanese developed a system of tunnels in the mountains. One of the tunnels is the Benshan Fifth Tunnel. It is 180 meters long and 290 meters above sea level. I learned a lot of many things how mining is done inside when I entered that tunnel. I wore a hard hat just like miners do and it was my first time to enter a gold mine. I paid NTD 50 for this unforgettable tunnel experience.






























Beside the Benshan Fifth Tunnel is the  where I had a chance to touch a 220kg gold bar for the first time. I also saw interesting ants, grasshoppers and crabs. All made in gold! On the third floor of the Gold Museum was the place for the Gold Panning DIY activity where I paid NTD 100 to experience gold panning. The instructions were given in Chinese but the instructor can also speak English. After the gold panning session, I ask the instructor if I have gold in the residues inside my vial and he said that I have gold. I kept the vial as my souvenir and will become part of my ‘Taiwan collections’.


















The Japanese not only developed the mining industry of Taiwan. They also carried with them their religion. The last 15 years of Japanese colonization in Taiwan was an era of promoting and building a lot of Shinto Shrines and one of them is the Jinguashi Shinto Shrine. This is the second Shinto Shrine that I saw in Taiwan and the first was one was the Taoyuan Martyr’s Shrine which I visited in Taiwan Day 295 (Shinto 101). But unlike the Taoyuan Martyr’s Shrine which is intact, the place was just remains of the sacred place. The Japanese worshipped the Kaneyako diety here which is a Shinto god related to metals. Hiking to the Shinto Shrine gave me a nice view of the East China Sea and the Teapot Mountain (580 meters altitude).















Other places interesting places to see was the Crown Prince Chalet which was made for the visit of Prince Hirohito for a mine inspection while the Four Joined Japanese-Style Residences was a dormitory made for the employees of a Japanese mining company. The last tourist spot that I went that day was the Golden Waterfall in Shuinandong. I boarded a taxi together with six students from Hong Kong who went to Taiwan for a summer vacation. Our driver was named Linda and she was the first female taxi driver that I have encountered. It was an exciting road trip going down the ‘snake’ road.







In two weeks I will be celebrating my One Year Anniversary in Taiwan and I should have received a total stipend amount of NTD 408,000 by just studying and doing research in Academia Sinica. At an exchange rate of 1 NTD = 1.45 PHP, it is equal to PHP 591,600. The best thing about my stipend is that it is tax-free. I have found gold! I’m a real gold digger!
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