Monday, April 20, 2015

Neiwan Old Street (內灣老街) [Taiwan Day 596: Nostalgic Neiwan - April 19, 2015]



Crazy! Somebody told me that I'm crazy to travel for 3 hours just to see a secluded town in Hsinchu. And another 3 hours train ride back to Taipei. I could have been to more exciting places in Central Taiwan just like in Taichung in Taiwan Day 553 & 554 but this classic town in Northern Taiwan is a must see for anyone living in this beautiful island. Have you ever heard of the town of Neiwan? 



The reopening of the Neiwan Branch Line of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) made it possible to reach this place. How to get there? Take a train from Taipei to Hsinchu Station or North Hsinchu Station then transfer to a train going to Zhuzhong Station and then transfer to another train. This time it will be a diesel powered train going directly to Neiwan Station. The Neiwan Branch Line is not yet electrified and that is the reason why archaic trains are still used to transport people in Neiwan. Why not? It's classy.










I enjoyed the train ride and most especially the scenery outside the train. As the train passes by I remember my Pingxi trip during my One Year Anniversary Special in Taiwan Day 365 (The Towns That Time Forgot). And I'm here again in another classic town, Neiwan. I was surprised when I went out of the train station. Lots of food stalls were already opened and were waiting for hungry customers. 




I have nice photos with the train station because I arrived at 10am and there were not many people at that time. Just a few meters from the train station was the Neiwan Police Station which was built during Taiwan's Japanese Colonial Period. What's interesting is that the building is still used today as a police station. The wooden structure is still preserved and even the tiles on the roof. I salute all the men and women of the Neiwan Police Station for keeping the town safe.




I went down to Youlou River and above it was the wooden Neiwan suspension bridge. I took off my shoes at the riverside and have fun preparing for a pose within 10 seconds. My digicam will soon flash and I have to be in proper position. It's really hard to walk on the slippery stones of the river! I don't want to lose my balance and get wet just like what happened to me in Wulai in Taiwan 519 (Wow Wulai) where I stumbled and fell into the river.







I got hungry and I strolled around the old town. I saw lots of Hakka glutinous rice cakes as well as mochi type of desserts. I even tried the signature dish of Neiwan, the zongzi. Other types of foods can be found and I felt that my trip in Neiwan was a repeat of my adventure in Jiufen in Taiwan Day 533  (Hungry in Jiufen). A pineapple juice quenched my thirst as I take a rest at the benches in the Neiwan Forestry Exhibition Hall. 





If you're not happy with street food, you can eat at the old Neiwan Theater. It's now a restaurant serving Hakka dishes. Hakka is an ethnic group in Taiwan and the Neiwan town in Hsinchu is a place to experience Hakka culture. I went inside the old theater and I felt I was transported back in time. The dim yellow lights and the ambience of the stage made me realized how the glorious were the days of the Neiwan Theater as the prime source of entertainment in town. 


Neiwan may not be as classic as Pingxi, as popular as Jiufen or as beautiful as the water fall in Wulai but it is a town with its own story and its own culture. I even didn't expect that I can experience again my past travel adventures in just one place. If you have already visited Pingxi, Jiufen and Wulai, come to Hsinchu and experience a nostalgic Neiwan.
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