The next stop in my short Taiwan trip is a small town along the old diesel engine railway line called the Pingx Line (平溪線): Jing Tong(菁桐) The small railway station was built in 1929 to serve this small coal-mining community. At its height, it boasted more than 10,000 inhabitants. With the global switch from coal to petroleum and natural gas as energy, the nature of the town's economy is completely transformed: from mining to tourism. In 2003, it was declared a cultural heritage by the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture. It was not always called by its present name. It used to be known as 菁桐坑驛. The station underwent some renovation in 2014-2015.
This is the police station, designed like a giant "sky lantern"(天燈), traditionally credited to be invented by Zhuge Liang (181–234), (朱葛亮) aka Kongming (孔明), the chancellor of Shu Han (蜀漢) during the so-called Three Kingdom Period (三國) and a military genius and inventor.
We were greeted at the entrance to the "Old Street" by a lovely dog at the front of a snack shop selling glutinous rice pudding. .
A close up of the fluffy dog.
a new sign for the Old Street.
The street was lined with food stall selling all kinds of mouth-watering snacks. Here, chicken rolls at NT$40
Monkey shrimps and octopus tentacles.
Golden "willow leaf fish" and bit-size crabs and crispy chicken rolls
Deep fried fermented bean curds
Plum juice drink, winter melon tea, mint & mandarin orange mix
Sliced mango, pomegranates, pears,,tomatoes etc. all selling @NT$50 small portion.
Plum powder as condiment for salads, greens and French fries.
Plum powder as condiment for salads, greens and French fries.
Lemon flavor angel cake @NT$60 each
There are even "sky lantern biscuits/cakes"
There are all sorts of rice, noodles, soups prepared in the traditional styles
There are ponds at side of the Old Street.
Hung on the railroad fence were numerous "good will" bamboo tubes. They're a good barometer of what's on top of the minds of ordinary folks.
It's interesting to read what some people want: the one in the middle wishes to be brought out for an annual overseas trip, monthly pocket money of NT$10,000, plus year end bonus.
This one says: it's as if we've met for the first time, but how easily our hearts change
This one longs to be be able to eat without putting on weight and health and good fortune for the family
The one on the left wishes that every one of his wishes will come true and that his path in life would be smooth
This one wishes that the gods will give her a good boy friend
This one wishes that he'll win the top prize in the lottery, good health for his parents and safety for the whole family.
This one is more practical: good health and earning more
The one on the left says: promotion and a pay rise.
This girl simply wants: "we must stay together"
This one dreams to open the best tasting restaurant at the National University of Political Science in Nanjing!
This one longs for success in putting on weight!
The one in the middle says: Lady Bank Teller, I'm coming!
This one longs for ability to fulfill his dream and another that every wish would come true.
This girl's dream is that she'd be treated honestly and that she'll quickly be loved by a boy at the university.
Various wishes for good luck every day, health, a smooth life, sleeping early, growing taller, and going on a world tour with his female companion
Wishes for a girl to enter a national university and to wean off bad manners.
The one on the left is more thoughtful: he/she wishes that he/she can stay optimistic throughout life, not get lost and not forget to repay his/her parents.
Fancy writing your own wishes? Just NT$40 each.
A memorial for the victims of a disastrous fire at Ching Tung Keng Ginza in 1943
This is a sketch by the prison warder artist Lin Wan Wei (林文尉) a junior prison guard. Here he says that in a prison, a prisoner is no longer a person, but just a prisoner number for the ease of control of the prison officials and questions whether this is just.
This is a photo of the artist and an introduction of his work in which he questions how human rights are to be maintained when there's simply insufficient guards to look after the needs of the prisoners and what he must do in the face of some temptations for corruption, how he should face hardened criminals with wisdom, courage and treat them as human beings, otherwise like himself, with parents and children and feelings. He confronts repeatedlt, in face, everyday in the concrete, the tug-of-war between good and evil, justice and injustice, humanity and inhumanity and he wonders if the prison system, the final leg in the our system of "justice" is nothing but law, high walls and barbed wire fences.
This is his reflections in English and Chinese
This used to be the loading bay where coal was poured down into buckets to be loaded onto the railway trucks
The top of the loading bay is now converted into a cafe
A view of the Old Street along the railway track. The Japanese influence is obvious in the architectural styles. Taiwan was ceded to Japan under the Treaty of Shiminoseki 1985 signed on April 17, 1895 after the disastrous Sino-Japanese War (1 August 1894 – 17 April 1895) in which our entire North Sea Fleet was sunk. According to the Chinese scholar Jin Xide, the Qing government paid a total of 340,000,000 taels (13,600 tons) of silver to Japan in both war reparations and trophies. This was equivalent to about 510,000,000 Japanese yen at the time, about 6.4 times the Japanese government's revenue. The local Taiwanese resisted the Japanese occupation and in May 1895, declared the formation of the Republic of Formosa. The Japanese retaliated with brutality and brought it under control by October, 1895. But even then, the Chinese continued sporadic ambushes and guerilla attacks for another two years before they were finally subdued. Not pretty at all.
The exterior Obvervation Terrace Cafe. No time to go up there
Colorful recycling bins in bright orange
All sorts of tiny "skylight lantern" mementos for sale @NT$50 each
The Road signs are colorful and the post box look very Japanese.
The name of the town is prominent everywhere
This is the original name of the town
Young girls enjoy having their picture taken
Another very colorful post box
All kinds of mementos are on sale, including, believe it or not, bits of "coal" !
all kinds of handmade soaps
They never run out of ideas for mementos. I'm sure shopalcolics will have a field day rummaging into their purse.
There's even a specialist workshop for the Hawaiian ukuleles
They come in all kinds of colors and materials
Another row of small sky lanterns on sale. Those at the bottom are really tiny.
Outside are written the most popular types of wishes: safety, money, sweet life, happiness every day etc.
Single color sky lanterns @ NT$150 and multicolor ones @ NT$200
This young man wishes to give it a go.
Done! Peace, Safety, Happiness, Eternity
Her turn now: Happiness to my beloved, smooth career, everything without problem and loving me forever.
Now ready for lighting up. But a photo first.
Ready? I'm going to light it up now.
There it goes!
The exit to the rail platform of the Jing Tong Station
name of the station is embedded on the ground
The small ticket office of the 3rd class station with only one staff
A very Chinese logo above the pay window
The other window is partially covered up with this picture
The Trail Map of Pingxi Line & Shen'ao Line
The train time table
In times of safety, prepare for emergencies
There's a mine memorial park in Jing Tong as homage to its past
Not much, just a tiny pond
Tiny water lilies
A few variety of flowers
and creepers and ferns
A verandah has been turned into a kind of shrine
a listless dog guarding the entrance to the corridor leading to the cafe
a forest of well-wishing bamboo tubes in the corridor
We caught a reflection of the cafe's table
Getting closer now
The cover over the corridors is overgrown with creepers
Another view of the short corridor
It's fun to hit the swinging bamboo tubes
The creepers did not stop at the corridor
Posing is obligatory. What's the point of spending money to travel if there are no photos in pretty surroundings to display before admiring eyes of one's friends and relatives?
There's nothing on the other side of the cafe but hills, trees, skies and clouds.
A huge fern at the end of the courtyard
Time for the morning coffee
It's a "coffee farm". Good coffee must be hand-prepared
The proprietress hard at work
It's obvious that the owner put in a lot of work to make it look nice
But it won't hurt to follow the crowd and sell some sky lanterns
and well-wishing bamboo tubes
A colorful display of what's on the menu
Everything is hand drawn
Even the order number: 2. 4. 8,. 21
The proprietress. She said she had been running it for several years now and business is still brisk. I believe I know why. She pours her heart out for this cafe and serves really good coffee.
It's all her work
This antiquated classroom table brought back plenty of memories to me
The menu on table 3, our table
The coffee for our tour guide cum driver
Mine: latte with black sugar
We heard a train coming and rushed out to wait for it outside of the indigenous culture centre
The station platform
The diesel train is coming
Getting closer now
moving away after a minute or two.
Even here at the metal fence to one side of the railroad track, we find the ubiquitous well-wishing bamboo tubes.
and also in the slope surrounding the cafe,
all the way down the steps as far as the eyes could see.
More tourists coming in the direction of the cafe
Part of the floor is lined with railroad track timber supports
My eyes were caught by these words of wisdom in a Chinese couplet on a painting roll: ": Though you've got reason, you still need to be agreeable; Though right is on your side, you ought to let the others off lightly"
On our way back to the car, we passed by this "Miner's Canteen"
displaying a huge old-time soda cap, its decorations a mix of the humble and the quaint.
The top of its shelves are lined with old sewing machines and metal tea pot
its walls are painted vermillion and its curtains secured by file clips !
Another shop displays a placard of what's available as "fruit popsies" in different parts of Taiwan
This shop sells an old fashioned drink called "flour mush"
This board explains what "flour mush" is: it's a poor man's drink prepared by frying flour and then adding water and sugar!
Another colorful menu
A main street shop next to the police station with a huge open air terrace above
Below the police station is the public toilet
A self-explanatory notice I found there above the urinoir
A notice advertising the Pingxi Line
The tour map of Jing Tong
Our waiting taxi.