Exploring The Old Mining Town Of Jingtong, Taiwan


I visited Taiwan in autumn, but the weather was unpredictable and on many days, it felt more like summer! Despite the fickle weather, I went ahead with my plans anyway, which included a fairy-tale trip into Hayao Miyazaki’s world in Jiufen and Shifen, and a stop at Jingtong – a once-thriving mining town.


From Taipei Main Station, I took a train to Ruifang on the Pingxi Line (the ride takes 40 minutes at about USD2 per person). There’s a train every hour, so you’ll want to time yourself well. I chose to visit on a weekday, thinking that there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. Boy, was I wrong! The platform was crowded with commuters and the train filled up quickly. I felt as if I was inside a can of sardines. To fight the claustrophobia, I focused on the view through the windows, watching the countryside go by while it drizzled.

Trawling the quaint alleys of Jingtong Old Street (Photo Credit: Wai Lu Yin)
Trawling the quaint alleys of Jingtong Old Street (Photo Credit: Wai Lu Yin)

About 45 minutes later, I disembarked at Jingtong, a former coal mining town established by the Taiyang Mining Company. When the government decided to import cheap coal, the company closed and the town population dwindled. Today, Jingtong is a tourist spot where travellers can learn its history and about the coal mining industry back in the day. While walking along Jingtong Old Street, I felt that I had stepped back in time, to the days when town folks would go about their daily tasks at a leisurely pace. A time when coal miners would lunch at their favourite eateries and shopkeepers called out to customers to check out their special or new products.

A charming café where I stopped for a cup of black coffee and a lovely chat with the barista  (Photo Credit: Wai Lu Yin)
A charming café where I stopped for a cup of black coffee and a lovely chat with the barista (Photo Credit: Wai Lu Yin)

My last stop in Jingtong was at a cute outdoor café, where I had a coffee and a chat with the friendly barista before heading to the Jingtong Train Station to catch my ride to Shifen. As I waited, I looked around and noticed that the station was built entirely of wood, in an antique Japanese style. One of Taiwan’s four remaining wooden train stations, it looked like a scene out of a classic black and white film.

There is such a vintage vibe going on, from the wooden benches to the old-school ticket gates and classic signboards. It truly was a lovely trip down history lane.

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Lu Yin is a Malaysian based in Petaling Jaya. She loves culture and constantly seeks adventures on her travels. In her spare time, she enjoys checking out the latest art, music and cultural events; listening to both upbeat and calm music; watching films and TV dramas; reading fiction and magazines; practising calligraphy, brush lettering and watercolour painting. Besides writing for a website about Asian film news and reviews, she is also starting a blog on Korean culture.