What a place! In its heyday, Jinguashi 金瓜石 was a very major happening kind of place, a gold rush town up in the mountains above Keelung on Taiwan’s NE coast with one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines ~ over 600 km of tunnels in and under those hills. During the Japanese era (1895-1945), it became the largest copper mine in the Japanese empire. But by the 1970’s it was all gone, the gold rush all finished. As with all mining towns, so here – a tragic history of hard labour and terrible working and living conditions. Worse too, as the Prisoner of War Camp in the town supplied over 1,000 captured Allied soldiers to work in the most dangerous parts of the mine….
These days, Jinguashi is a tourist town ~ the Japanese residences have been restored and the gold mine area is all open as a museum, although some of it quite badly damaged by Typhoon Soudelor last month and still under repair. There’s even the ruins of the Japanese Shinto Shrine to visit. The main problem is the miserable weather, rain, rain, and more rain ~ but yesterday was one of those rare days when the rain stopped, the clouds were still low and dark, but that made walking more comfortable, and yes, the sun even came out!
Just above Jinguashi is Keelung Mountain, that’s the one in the photo above. Behind me on this side is a fantastic circular ridge of mountains, Banping Mountain 半平山 (半屏山) (713m) and Canguangliao Mountain 燦光寮山 (739m).
And half way up Banping Mountain is a massive clump of rocks sticking up, called Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 (580m). When viewed from the gold museum and the Shinto Shrine, it really does look like a teapot…. with no handle, but hey, a teapot nonetheless!
So in a country of tea and teapots, Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 is definitely a must-climb!
The teapot on Teapot Mountain is huge, and the only way up it is through the middle of the teapot – fortunately there’s fixed ropes provided, and it’s fun, and the views are great!
But to get there from here is, well, quite a journey. T’would be quicker by boat, just off round the coast. But of course there’s no boat, and sooooo ~ on the first bus out of Sanzhi 三芝 at 5:30am, then MRT Metro and 2 more buses and hey, you’re at Jinguashi by 9:00am ready for the big expedition to start.
Quite amazingly, there was a group from Keelung on the top of Teapot Mountain who were going on around the ridge ~ and so off we set together. They knew the route like the back of their hands, they even had lots of yummy Keelung delicacies to munch away on, and they had spare gloves. All to share. There were lots of fixed ropes so the gloves came in useful, and lots of long silver grass which was very slippery so the gloves helped grab onto clumps of it. So off we went, all round the ridge and back down via the Shinto Shrine by 2:00pm. 5 hours round trip.
Such a fun group to meet up with ~ and so it was that we had a special group photo together on top of Caiguangliao Mountain 燦光寮山. Thanks to them it was a great day!
An amazing day in fact, well worth all the trouble of getting there and getting back. Actually getting back was easier than going, using the bus straight to Taipei rather than going via Keelung. Well worth it all. Thanking God for amazing views, beautiful mountains, ideal weather. And the teapot? Well, so special.
And now, of course, pouring Taiwan Oolong Tea from my favorite Chinese teapot will definitely never be the same again, ha ha!