January 14, 2010

Jin Shan “Mystery Coast” and Old Street Meal Experience

“Let’s go and visit a mystery place by Jin Shan coastline, and have stir fry dishes on the Old Street, but we have to be there early, or those dishes will be gone!” I was asked. A mystery place? What kind of eating place would that be and will stop serving when we get there late? All these questions came to my mind while my stomach started making noises..

Mystery Coast

Three of us drove on the north-east corner coastline of Taiwan overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and Taiwan Strait. It was a cloudy day otherwise the coastline would be so gorgeous! We parked the car on a fishermen village. We walked on several stairs, passed the breakwater, and then came to the entrance of the mysterious place. There is a huge rock protruding out to the sea; however, a tall, narrow hole pierces this huge rock. Only one to two persons can walk through the hole at the same time. It names “One line hole” (一線洞).

Outside the hole is the astonished rock coastal scenery. You can see plenty green algae on the junction of the rocks and sea. The rock surfaces have orange-brown color textures, together with the green algae, ocean, and cliff colors form a beautiful natural painting. I was astonished by its beauty. This place has not attracted too many tourists, so it still has the simplicity nature although it still offers the tremendous coastline scenery.

Among all these colorful rock textures, Kristen named one of the pieces- “Kissing lips”. That is one of the most artistic artwork the Mother Nature created!

The name of this coastline is “Mystery Coast” (神秘海岸). During the martial law era, Taiwan’s coastline belonged to the military controlled areas. Public could not enter or get closer, can’t take pictures or do the painting here either. Therefore, it kept the mystery feeling.

Old Street Meal Experience

We arrived at Jin Bao Li Old Street shortly after the coast strolling. The former name of Jin Shan Township was “Jin Bao Li” (金包里). It was a name given by the aboriginals and then changed to Jin Shan in 1920. It belongs to Taipei County. “Jin Bao Li Old Street” is also known as “Jin Shan Old Street” where the originated place of the northern coastline is and also the only old street. This street has a 200 year history!

Here is the oldest building on this street. Currently, it still sells a variety of rice in the traditional way.

Jin Shan is also famous with its sweet potatoes. They are soft, sweet and large. Strolling on the street, baked sweet potatoes, ice-roasted sweet potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, sweet potato biscuit can be seen everywhere. The annual sweet potatoes festival in August has been a fun event and attracted lots of visitors.

Street vendors are also selling many of the traditional snacks, cakes, as well as taro, bamboo shoots, yams and other characteristics of agricultural products.

This street was very packed especially during lunch time. We finally slowly walked through the crowd and reached to the Kuang An Temple (廣安宮) where the most popular stir fry dishes serve in town.

How are we going to order? Where are we sitting? I was told that the best way was to find a table first before we picked up the dishes. There were no menus, and no ordering. We just picked up the hot stir fry dishes that we liked in the kitchen outside the temple. Grabbed the dishes fast, or they would be taken! I saw people holding their steaming hot dishes on the street; walking through the crowd, and finding their tables which became an interesting scene.

This boy was just too hungry for our dishes!

Almost all the stores around Kuang An Temple are the seating areas; however, all tables were taken. Standing by a table and waiting for them to finish could be the only way to get a table.

Jin Shan Duck Meat is one of the popular dishes here. They are tender, juicy and delicious! As you already knew, “grab the dish fast, or they would be taken!”

It is very interesting in seeing that the meat dishes are selling just right outside the temple!

Another must eat dessert on the old street is “Jin Shan shredded ice”. Lots of varieties of flavors to select, not too sweet and with lower calories so don’t miss the shredded ice while you are in town.

Beside the beautiful coastline and local delicacies, hot springs is another attraction of Jin Shan’s. Jin Shan Hot Springs contains four kinds of springs- "sulfur spring, carbonated spring, iron spring, salt spring,” It became the world's rarely seen hot spring area.

Next to the Jin Shan Hot Spring Public Bath, a running hot spring laundry area offers the old time clothes washing experience.

Spending a day in the mystery coast and having stir fry dishes outside the temple in Jin Shan Old Street offer you a plenty of surprises and a unique experience! You may find precious surprises and capture them for a valuable memory!

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Neil said...

Great article! Makes me want to go visit!

Anonymous said...

Mystery Coast is such a lovely place!
The sea was rather choppy.
Is it normally like that?

What a shame, we ain't got any hot spring in the UK!
Could use it to heat our homes...

micki and kristen said...

To Neil- Very interesting place to visit for a day or a half day, and a good place for you to capture some awesome photos! :)

micki and kristen said...

To londoncalling- it was a bit windy on that day, it would be calm if the weather was nicer.
Sounds like you need to be defrosted~~~ :):)

lechua said...

this place looks really interesting and authentic.. am i right to say it's not a touristy-frequented place? the rock texture in the 4th photo looks like a piece of cloth rather than rock!

micki and kristen said...

To lechua- Yes. "Mystery Coast" is not crowded as the nearby coast-"Yehliu". You can see the info of Yehliu on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yehliu . Just because of that, Mystery Coast is still very nature, not over process as Yehliu's. The peaceful atmosphere makes Mystery Coast very special! The texture do look like a piece of cloth, good description! "

Shirley said...

The pictures of beach are gorgeous! How we wish we were there. Our last spring to Jinshan brought us to see their Old Street >> http://asiarediscovery.com/taiwan/148-taiwan-northern-coast-jinshan-chin-shan-old-street-jinbaoli-street

Good choice for local snacks/food!

micki and kristen said...

Hi, Shirley, Thanks for sharing your wonderful post! I really miss the stir fry dishes there by the temple!

Dave said...

Wow, amazing pics: Of Jinshan coasts & old street charm!

Thanks for sharing, Micki & Kristen. :-)

micki and kristen said...

Thanks for visiting, Dave~~

Unknown said...

Hi, Micki & Kristen

Thanks for sharing. I am so entralled by the beauty that I plan to go in Dec. How do I get there if I dont drive? Is Jinshan accessible via public transport? I will be staying in Taipei. Will the sea be too rough this season?

Thanks and regards

Kristen and micki said...

HI, Garace, I think the most convenience way for a foreigner to travel to Jinshan is to take the “ Tourist Shuttle Bus- Crown Northern Coastline” (台灣好行-皇冠北海岸線).

Take the Tourist Shuttle Bus at the train station of Keelung, and get off at Jinshan Old Street, and walk to your destination.

You can purchase the ticket on the bus. Round trip is 100NT. The bus is leaving every hour during weekdays and every half hour during weekends.

This bus is from Keelung to Tamsui. After visited Jinshan, you can continue your visit to Tamsui.

The Mystery Coast is bit far from the Old Street. I would suggest trying the hiking/walking trail in the Lion Head Park (獅頭山公園). The entrance of this trail is the visitor center, and is not far from the Old Street. There are many scenery spots within this trail. The end of the trail is the Mystery Coast.

The wind is a bit strong during winter by the coast. It would be hard to see the clear sky. It can be chilly and wet.

Hope this helps and wish you a great trip in Taiwan!

Blessed Homemaker said...

Mystery Coast is beautiful! We visited Yehliu last year, planning another trip again this year. I think I'll hire a driver to bring us to Jinshan. Thanks for sharing. You've got a great blog!

micki and kristen said...

Thank you so much, Blessed Homemaker!

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