Monday, November 18, 2013

Shiding (石碇區)

It's winter time here, but today was an unexpectedly great day weather-wise. So I decided to head out and make the most of the good weather before the winter rains start. They usually don't stop for a month or so. I wanted to go see Shifen, which I have heard lots of good things about. However, on the way there I stopped at Shiding and Pingling which took up most of the day.

This was my first time in the Shiding District (石碇區), despite it being only an hour away from Taipei. Shiding (literally "stone anchor") is a wonderful rural district in the mountains in southern New Taipei City, Taiwan. The area was developed during the Qing Dynasty, presumably for tea farms. The town had a boom in its development when coal was found there during the period of Japanese occupation.
Beautiful rock formations under Wanshou Bridge in Shiding, Taiwan
Beautiful rock formations under Wanshou Bridge in Shiding, Taiwan
Shiding used to be an important distribution point for local of local products. The logistical advantage it had declined when the Taipei-Yilan Freeway opened. But, the tea plantations still remain an important industry there. Shiding recently began to host the local Shiding Oriental Beauty Tea Festival in an attempt to attract more people to Shiding.

These days Shiding is a peaceful town, where tourists can relax at coffee plaza, walk around Shiding Old Street, and try the famous tofu. There are some interesting things to see that are unique to Shiding such as the suspended architecture and the last old blacksmith.

Shiding Old Street

Wanshou Bridge, which is built entirely out of stone, divides Shiding Old Street into the East and West streets. On the west Street is Jishun Temple Square and on the East street is Bujientien Street, stone houses, century-old Wang’s Tofu and Fubou Restaurant.

Diaojiaolou and Bujientien Street

The unique Diojiaolou (“Suspended" or "Hanging Houses”) are the first thing you see when coming into Shiding.  Due to the limitations of building houses in mountainous areas, the people living there had to suspend a part of the house in order to build their houses in a good location. Which is why the houses facing the stream on Shiding’s East Street are supported by beams. This unique architecture is a remnant from the Japanese colonial period.  

The covered passage between the houses on Bujientien Street result in the sunlight never reaching there. The name "Bujientien" means literally "do not see the light of day."

Diojiaolou Suspended Houses in Shiding
Diojiaolou Suspended Houses

Jishun Temple

Jishun Temple (No. 9, Shiding West Street, Shiding District, New Taipei City) is an important religious center for the people of Shiding. The temple enshrines Ludongbin (or Divine Emperor of Broad Protection) on the second floor. Ludongbin is known as the god of coal as this area was originally used for coal production. In the days when Shiding was an important distribution center, tea buyers and tea vendors used a tiny square in the courtyard of the temple as a tea market.

The Century-old Stone House

The Century-old Stone House, (No. 53, Shiding East Street, Shiding District, New Taipei City ) built in 1905, is just over Shiaochen Bridge. The first floor of the stone house displays traditional appliances and kitchen utensils.

Eating in Shiding, Taiwan

Wang’s Tofu is a hundred-year-old restaurant. It uses Shiding's pure mountain spring water in its traditional ancient tofu making process. Wang’s tofu doesn't contain any unnecessary artificial ingredients, so the pure scent and flavor of the soybeans is sealed inside each delightful piece of tofu. I found the sweet scent of tofu enveloping the streets due to the bean curd dessert and soy milk that Wang’s Tofu sell over weekends.

Fubou Restaurant is popular with tourists for its local Taiwanese dishes, such as, "White Chicken,” “Tofu Eaten 3 Ways,” and “Thee-Layer Pork.”  The tofu here is also made using Shiding’s pure mountain spring water and traditional methods, which gives it a slightly charred flavor. 

Shiding Danlan Art and Culture Hall

I didn't go in here but plan on going back soon to check it out. Shiding Danlan Art and Culture Hall  is an exhibition showcase for local culture and historic groups and artists as well as ecological industries.  Many artists have made a name for themselves here, resulting in more and more people visiting the culture hall, turning it into Shiding’s most famous tourist attraction. 

So for anyone in or visiting Taipei, I recommend taking a trip to Shiding. It only takes about an hour to get there by bus or train. Going from Shenkeng to Shiding to Pingling makes for a great daytrip and pretty easy to do with buses.

To see more of my photos of Taiwan, please visit

To learn more about interesting places and sights to visit in Taiwan, check out my list of Places to see in Taiwan

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