Jiu Fen is a mountain village which the view from the outside looking in, reminds me a lot of Sausalito. Square boxy colorful houses are randomly nestled in a high mountain. Way back before you and I were born, this town had nine families that lived here. The word jiu means 9 (could also mean old, alcohol, long time, relative, it all sounds the same. But for this character, it means 9). With these nine families, they each needed their own portion, in Chinese called fen, of goods and shipments, and thus there became the name Jiu Fen, or nine portions. Like the other villages, Jiu Fen starts out with an old street. I was very surprised to find such a coffee drip system set up literally in the middle of nowhere.
My dad convinced me to try this kind of ice cream wrap. The workers shave off candied peanuts into thin shavings and then places two scoops of ice cream on top. Another worker then asks the customer if they want a sprinkling of fresh greens then wraps it up like a burrito.
The ice cream itself has almost no taste but it was so refreshingly good! The no taste ice cream balances out the sweetness of the peanut candy. Can’t believe I almost said no to these!
Since the old street is a very narrow road that does not permit vehicles to go through, this is their UPS system. Moped pulling dolly behind him.
This woman is making another form of nut candy. A kind of syrup or glaze is mixed with some toasted or raw nuts, then gets spread out. As it’s cooling, she’ll use that intense knife to slice small rectangular cubes before it sets and is too hard to cut.
Now a must try at Jiu Fen is their glutinous rice balls that are often put inside red bean or green bean soup. The workers make them right up front for you to see and watch and they have two additional rooms for people to sit down and enjoy the treat. It is made from tapioca starch which gives it its chewiness, and the excess tapioca starch on the outside prevents them from sticking to each other.
Once they have been cooked, they gloss and shine. Each color has a different flavor, but the store combines all their flavors into one pot creating a bejeweled look. Order this with red bean soup and you and your stomach have already made the trip well worth it.
As you go through Jiu Fen, there is really no doubt that this is a mountain village. I mean, look at these steps! But no fear, not all of the village is a stair master workout (unlike Xiao Shan).
You will be led to a beautiful tea house that has infamously served as inspiration for the bath house from the animated movie, Spirited Away. But whether you are familiar with that movie or not, it holds so much character. #NoFilter.
All the streets in Jiu Fen along with the teahouse have been lined with these lanterns that light up beautifully at night.
We sat down at the opposing tea house to watch the sun set. As it was going, it created such layers between all the different mountains and you remember how small you really are compared to them, then remember how small the mountains are compared to Taiwan, and how small Taiwan is compared to the rest of the map of the world. Jiu Fen is a fun and cute place where you will definitely encounter good food and a good reminder. Until next time!