A ride along the Pingxi Railroad is a great one day trip from Taipei. The 13 km long Pingxi Railroad is one of the last remaining Japanese era tracks. There are several stops along the way, and each has something to see – lanterns in Pingxi, waterfall and the old street in Shifen, cats in Hutong. There are several trains in the day, and it is possible to more stops in one day. We decided for Pingxi and Shifen and we write about them in our travel blog.
Sausage in a sausage in Pingxi
We boarded the train in Ruifang as we visited the Keelung night market one day before. We drove almost to the last stop – to Pingxi. Pingxi is a small town with a lovely narrow main street. We were early, and there were not many tourists there yet which was a great relaxation in comparison with the crowded streets of Shifen. We walked to a temple which offered a lovely view over Pingxi and the tracks. There was also a man-made cave where locals can have picnics while avoiding the heat. Some were already there having a snack. For our breakfast, we bought sausage in a sausage from a sweet old lady. Near the tracks, tourists were already starting to release the lanterns.
The lanterns are rice paper wrapped around metal wires and work on hot air. On them, people write their wishes and release them into the sky. One of the funny writings we noticed was: ‘Money, I love you’. The rice paper is of different colors, and each symbolizes something else – love, work, a good marriage, bright future.
Shifen – the narrowest part of the Pingxi railway
From Pinxgi, we boarded the train down to Shifen. In Shifen the train passes only a few meters away from multistorey houses, and it is a great sight. The only problem was that Shifen was so crowded that we barely could walk along its streets. We were there on national holiday, and we suggest avoiding that and also weekends. Luckily, they were only near the narrowest part of the track, other parts of Shifen were almost tourist-free.
Wishing for good luck
In Shifen, it is trendy to release a lantern into the air which is a beautiful sight, but try to do that only in the time of the Lantern festival when it is supervised. Lanterns litter the nature, and since they eventually fall, it is dangerous. You can safely release the lanterns during The Lantern Festival which takes place around the Chinese New Year celebrations, but in 2018, it will also be held during the mid-autumn festival. Too bad we were there right between these two dates – but for our next trip to Taiwan, the Pingxi Lantern festival is a must-see!
Shifen waterfall and bubble tea
A beautiful natural sight in Shifen is the Shifen waterfall which is s about 15 minutes by foot from the old street. We were impressed with the waterfall as we expected it to be smaller. The path along the river is neat, and it ends face-to-face with the waterfall. We suggest admiring the waterfall while drinking a bubble tea – a drink hugely popular with the locals. There are some eating options around the waterfall but nothing special – rather have something in the town.