Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trip to Pingshi and Shihfen waterfall

I am back in Taipei and two full days left in this country. Taiwan is beautiful and also surprising that there are many things to see and explore just outside Taipei. I am starting to explore Taipei surroundings with trip to Pingsi (Pingshi or Pingxi if you want to type this word in Chinese on computer).

It is easy to reach – on the railway line for direction to Hualien need to change to local train at station Ruifang. There can buy daily pass for Pingsi (Pingshi) line and also get some free map etc. Basically, it’s easy and fun to reach. You can see train coming to Ruifang station that’s where video starts.

Video: around Shinfen town and Shihfen waterfall

There are many small stations on Pingshi line and need at least a day as minimum to explore some part of this area. I got down at Shihfen station, where Shihfen (Shifen) waterfall is located nearby. Here is interesting that train moves trough streets of this town. Probably you got seen this scene in many brochures about Taiwan. Here I met three girls and lady traveling with and gladly joined their company for a half a day. In the video you can see we are inside station master office and he is explaining railway signaling on this line. Very kind man!

Three Taiwan girls
Image: Three Taiwan girls

This railway was built as coal transporting railway and later transformed to only passenger line. It is single track and trains can only exchange at Shihfen station. Whole ride till end station will take just 30 minutes. Token railway signaling is used on this line and tokens are exchanged at Shihfen station. For example for railway section from Shihfen station to Jington stations token with round hole is taken by driver. Driver is permited to be on the rail with token which corresponds to railway track section he currently is on.

token railway signal
Image: token is put into leather pocket and train driver is about to leave Shihfen station to Jington

Next to Shihfen waterfall. It has a lot of water, because of continuous rain previous night. Water drop is about 20 m high and I really liked energy of waterfall.

Shihfen Waterfall Shifen waterfall
Image: Shinfen waterfall - you can see cloud comming from waterfall

Smiling Buddha Taiwan
Image: Smiling Buddha will meet you at the waterfall

On the way to waterfall near railway bridge, I came to one shocking encounter. I saw a dog without one front leg begging for food from passersby. Poor doggy I thought – must victim of some traffic accident. Then nearby – another dog... but without one rear leg. Now what are odds of an accident where one dog looses front leg and another – rear ? Could not even think.

Life near to railway
Image: Life near railway

At the end of video, you can see sky lantern. Tourist booklet said that in the old days it was used as notification for safety or danger. Today tourists can buy sky lantern themselves and send it into sky. There is also Sky Lantern festival between Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival, which is around begining of the year. Here is one nice video of many lanterns being released on Comus-san blog. I did not try to send sky lantern, but I got this suveniour Taiwanese friends.

Shihfen station is on left bottom corner (blue circle), Shihfen waterfall - on right top corner (green mark). On the way from station visitors centre and nice trail along river.

View Larger Map

At the end of day, I am traveling to the end of Pingshi line, which is Jingtong station. In the video you can see small mining train completly overed with small bamboo sticks with wishes.

Video: traveling to the end of Pingshi line

Next day super typhoon came and I could only stay in Taipei.

Getting information
Again this guide I bought about Taipei county was very good with small pictures and detailed maps (in Chinese). There are also nice small tourist brochures about Shihfen and Pingshi town, which can be picked up at tourist office (in English). And I came to know about this place through guide books in Japan (in Japanese) as it has some historical connection with Japan.

So now you know - if you have free weekend in Taipei, go and visit Pingshi.

Bonus video:

Video: Taking Pingsi train in rain and night


A_slashie said...

May I know when did you go to the waterfall?
I heard that it was closed...

Mountaincat said...

I went six months ago, sorry I did not mention that. Why it could closed ? Because of construction or something ?

If you want to be 130% sure that its open, maybe it's wise to call them before going. Phone for Shinfen visitor center, which was given in my travel book is (02)2495-8409 (from 0800-1800)