A Funky Fish Shack in Jinguashi 金瓜石白帶魚米粉湯

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The funky fish shack from the sloping streets below.

is a historic mining town on the far side of from . Unlike Jiufen—which has become insanely popular and rather overdeveloped in recent years—Jinguashi maintains a small town charm that belies an unusual concentration of historic sights, rewarding hikes, and offbeat attractions. One great example is the funky restaurant perched on the hillside to the right of Cyuanji Temple 勸濟堂 (pinyin: Quànjìtáng), easily identified by the huge gold statue of Guān Gōng 關公 perched on the rooftop. The restaurant, as I have learned, is simply named for their signature dish: báidàiyú mǐfěntāng 白帶魚米粉湯, a kind of fish and rice noodle soup.

An Overnight Trip to Keelung via Jinguashi and Jiufen

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Jinguashi from the Ogon Shrine.

Last weekend I enjoyed a couple of days outside of in the northern part of . I went there with friends, ostensibly to show them around and , the town that famously inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, and ended up staying in for the night on a whim. Having recently purchased a great new phone I bombarded Instagram with numerous pictures and plenty of commentary as the trip progressed. This quick and dirty post is a collection of some of my better smartphone snapshots as well as an experiment in blogging with broader brushstrokes. Perhaps you will get a sense of how I travel: spontaneously, intuitively, and with a keen eye for details.

Ogon Shrine 黄金神社

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Stone lanterns on the pathway to the shrine.

The Ōgon Shrine 黄金神社 (also known as the Gold Temple) is an abandoned Shinto shrine in the mountains above , an old gold mining town in , . Built in 1933 by the Nippon Mining Company while Taiwan was under Japanese rule, it was mostly destroyed in the post-war era by vandals. Even so, it’s in better shape than almost every other Shinto shrine in Taiwan apart from the Taoyuan Martyrs’ Shrine 桃園忠烈祠 and Kagi Shrine 嘉義神社 in . The incoming KMT government went to great lengths to expunge the island of Japanese influences.

Jinguashi Old House 金瓜石老屋

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A ruined home in Jinguashi, Taiwan.

One of the enduring mysteries of abandoned is this: why do people leave so much stuff behind when they go? I understand there might not be any descendants or close friends to go through the belongings of the departed—but what about when entire families pick up and move? Sure, leave the junk behind (and there’s lots of that), but what about children’s toys, letters and diaries, old schoolwork, music, book, and movie collections, and photographs? It is almost as if entire families undergo a kind of ritual metamorphosis, pupating within their former domiciles, emerging transformed and casting away the remnants of their former lives, all the miscellaneous detritus and kipple that naturally accumulates in the course of everyday affairs.