On Day 3, we had a good sleep at an Airbnb, Huifeng Homestay (惠风民宿) in Jiufen after yesterday’s hectic schedule. The night before, on arrival, we were unimpressed with our accommodation.
JIUFEN OLD STREET (九份老街)
Huifeng Homestay (惠风民宿)
The patchy walls and the springy mattress had certainly seen better days. The high humidity wasn’t welcoming and we struggled with the hot shower, which stubbornly refused to provide warm water for more than 5 seconds. Jiufen is on a higher ground, so there’s no way to avoid high humidity and moldy smells. Luckily, the dehumidifier did the work.
The rest of the shortcomings were compensated by the hospitality and friendliness of our host, Ms. Huang and… the TV box since there was nothing better to do other than movies at night.
Our host provided delicious pasta as our breakfast, served outdoor on its unadorned patio. The foggy morning soon cleared up and we were treated to an unobstructed view of the town and coast.
If you’re in dilemma on where to stay in Jiufen, please check Jiufen homestays that I had shortlisted before the trip.
Jiufen Old Street
To make up for yesterday’s loss, we went off to explore Jiufen Old Street, while it’s still tourist-free. This time, we took as much picture as we wanted of Ah Mei Teahouse, even contemplated whether we should have our tea here. CS was against the idea as he dislikes traditional tea.
The continued exploration of Jiufen’s smaller lanes took us to a few more viewing points. Homestay business had mushroomed over the years and most of them lined the stair-less Qing Bian Street from the intersection near Ah Mei Teahouse. This street also provides some close-up views of the coast, away from crowds.
As we made our way back to Huifeng Homestay for checkout, tourists started to pile up, just as the shops began their day. We left Jiufen with heavy hearts (and heavy backpacks) as we had not seen all its wonders, nor tried much of the food.
LUODONG, YILAN COUNTY
Our next stop was Luodong, a township in Yilan county. Initially, during my planning, I intended to stay at Yilan town itself but the accommodations were either expensive or far away from train station.
In the end, we decided on Luodong as our base for Taroko National Park. Luodong was more tightly-packed, we can access everywhere by foot, including Luodong Train Station. There were motorbike rentals right opposite the train station, its streets housed many 24 hr convenience shops and eateries.
If the accessibility didn’t make our stay better, Loya Herb Art Hotel definitely did. Snuggled at a lonelier street off the main road, CS was, at first, appalled that the hotel is next to an abandoned creepy-looking amusement arcade building. Our perceptions took a positive turn once we saw our room. Nothing luxurious, but spacious, clean and has a bathtub. Threw in a TV box into the equation, and yeah, we loved our stay here.
I don’t know how it came to the name Loya Herb Art, but the whole building has a pleasing herb scent throughout the premise.
As for location, this hotel is perfect – right behind the main street, stone-throw away from shops and eateries, walking distance to both Luodong Train Station and Luodong Nightmarket. While its lobby is on the ground floor, most of its simple amenities are on the 7th, including the laundry room, a small gym and café which serves only breakfast. It is the best rated accommodation we had for the whole Taiwan trip. Check for availability and room rate of Loya Herb Art Hotel, Luodong.
We expected Luodong Night Market to be smallish, and probably has little to offer as our dinner. That was wrong. Luodong has everything to offer and its size spans a few streets.
If you’re visiting Luodong Night Market; please try everything that catches your attention. The street food is cheaper, and minus the long queues, compared to Taipei’s. I did the mistake of procrastinating some of my to-eat-list, only to find their prices more inflated in other places (Shihlin and Ningxia).
Luodong night market is also considerably more ‘walkable’ with its wider street and better traffic.
We had dinner at Luodong Night Market on two consecutive nights but I will just sum them up in this post:
Onion Pancake @ Nong Fu Chong Tian (農夫蔥田)
In case you’re not aware, Yilan County is famous for its spring onions or what they called San Xing spring onion. Theirs are said to be bigger and fragrant. We believe so, because the Spring Onion Pancakes we tasted, were delicious. The crispy outer layer which enveloped the lightly-chewy inner dough was just so delightful on every munch.
Location: Min Quan Street of Luodong Nightmarket, almost to the end of the rows of permanent stalls.
Estimated GPS: 24.676030, 121.767943
Clam Congee @ Fang Xiang (芳香)
The clear broth was light but sweet with the clam’s freshness.
However, do skip their horribly gooey omelets (oysters, squids and shrimps alike) and pork noodles.
Location: Stall No. 1091 & 1092, Min Quan Street of Luodong Nightmarket
Estimated GPS: 24.675857, 121.768735
Fried Rice @ Taiwan Sha Cha (台灣沙茶)
Call us ignorant or what, we didn’t know about Sacha 沙茶 until we returned from Taiwan and Wikipedia-ed it. To think that we went to 台灣沙茶, supposedly famed for its Sacha sauce (and items cooked with Sacha sauce) but ordered for a beef fried rice instead.
But the beef fried rice with eggs 牛肉雞蛋炒飯 turned out satisfying. The pictures may not look that way, but there was a generous portion of beef hidden beneath the fluffy rice.
Roast Chicken @ 可口香碳烤
Well-roasted chicken, charred to perfection on the outside while the meat still retained its juiciness.
Fried Squids @ 赤炸風雲
赤炸風雲 is the place to go for nicely-seasoned Squid King (TWD90) and Baby Squid (TWD60).
Estimated GPS: 24.676010, 121.768284
Yi Shun Xuan Bakery 奕順軒
Not far from the center of Luodong Night Market is the Yi Shun Xuan bakery which also doubled as local delicacies shop too, constantly packed with customers. Their bread and pastries taste as good as they look, and there’s a danger of over-buying and over-indulged. But it was all worth it, for their fluffy soft bread and Walnut Cinnamon Roll.
Location: No. 160, Minquan Road, Luodong town.
Estimated GPS: 24.676574, 121.765813
With only 2 days to spend in Luodong, it’s impossible to eat everything. There were, of course, some disappointments along the way, such as the Dong Quai Mutton Soup (too sweet), squid thick soup (too starchy) and fried potato balls that didn’t make the cut.