I woke up at 5:30am, but managed to get back to sleep until 7:30am. Take that, Jet Leg! We went down to have the complementary breakfast of toast, cheese and coffee or tea. We met a nice man from Vietnam on the way to the breakfast room. At breakfast we met a lady, who I believe was Japanese (or at least she was speaking Japanese), she liked Jives’ Ranma 1/2 t-shirt.
After breakfast we headed to the 711 to get our easy cards for the metro and buses all over Taiwan (100% you should get this card, so many places will not except cash payment and you actually get fare discounts with the card). The card itself costs 200 NTD, but we also loaded it with 400 NTD. A nice man translated this to the cashier at the 711 for us! Jives got a One Piece Easy card and I got a Hello Kitty themed one.
We then checked out of our room and headed back towards Taipei 101 station. We took the metro to Taipei Main Station to get the TRA train to Ruifang for Jiufen! The machines to buy tickets are to the right of the gates to the TRA. You have to put your money in first, select the number of people, select “local” and “full fare”. There is a board to the right that says the platform and the train times for Ruifang. Make sure to take the “local” train, it should be at platform #4. We confirmed that we were onboard the correct train by asking the train staff once we were on board.
We boarded the 9:59am train. The ride took about an hour. We exited the train station through the west exit (important) and and turned left out of the station. From the exit you walk about 200m down the road (to the left) and you will see a police station across the street. The bus stop is right beside the police station (just past it). There are various signs in English that show which buses will take you to Jiufen. The cost is about 15NTD, but if you have the easy card you can just tap it as you get on and off (otherwise you need exact change). The bus ride took about 15 minutes (I watched along on maps.me to see when to get off the bus).
The ride was very winding and a bit scary. Hold on tight!! We got off at the first stop in Jiufen and walked up the main street to were A-Mai’s teahouse is. Our homestay was up and to the right… but we had a tough time finding it because the name had changed to “One” from “Mountain Eco BnB”. We found the place after some help from a few friendly locals, and dropped off our bags around 1:00pm. Next,off to see the city and try the notorious stinky tofu!