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September 19, 2017

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Striking gold in Jin Gua Shi

Of all the 117 elements listed in the periodic table, gold is perhaps the most elusive and alluring compound of all, dazzling men and women alike throughout the ages. People from all over the world – Taiwan being no exception - have sought to unravel its secrets and seek out its source, as seen by the multitude of mining towns that have sprung up over the decades.

Although many of these places are no longer devoted to searching for precious metals, quaint little towns such as Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石) have preserved the structures and maintained the old-town feel to allow visitors a small glimpse of bygone times.

Located near the northern coast of Taiwan, Jin Gua Shi is accessible from Taipei by bus; simply go to exit 1 at Zhong Xiao Fu Xing MRT station and take a KeeLung Transportaion Company bus. If you choose to drive to Jin Gua Shi instead, there are some spectacular sights to see along the way when driving up the winding roads lining the coast.

A small coastal area called Nan Ya Chi Yian (南雅奇岩) harbors some sandstone structures that take on fantastic forms and colors. Having weathered harsh winds and rains, these rocks are slowly worn away and their iron particles become oxidized, turning the stones into various shades of brown and orange. These formations tower several meters in height, and upon examining their overall shape, it is easy to see why the locals have whimsically named them the Ice Cream Rocks.

Also nearby is a small stretch of ocean, known as the Yin Yang Hai (陰陽海), which appears to be composed of two distinct colors. This is no illusion; the water in the area is rich in minerals, and deposits accumulating in the sea have turned the surrounding area into a golden yellow. As the minerals percolate through the water, the sea slowly fades back to its natural blue color.

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