I was watching this new Netflix flick called Pinoy Sunday, a Taiwanese film about the lives of Filipino overseas federal workers. The movie is set in Taipei. In one particular scene, Meryll’s character is on a date with Bayani and she tells him, “Tara, mag Danshui tayo!” (Let’s go to Danshui) and I found myself replying in a jest, “Me too!”
Danshui… lots of meaningful memories. It is one of the small towns on the northernmost tip of Taiwan, where the Danshui river meets the open sea. It is famous for its old street, historical landmarks and beautiful sunsets. It is made more charming for its relaxing vibe that brings slowness to any rush to what you are feeling. And to go there is easy as it connected from Taipei via MRT.
I have been to Danshui countless times. Every experience was different from the other. The most memorable was the first. Winter was already coming in and went there around the afternoon. As the MRT was nearing the destination at Danshui, you can see the hills in the town of Bali, which is across the river. The tops of those hills were already covered in fog turning the light of the setting sun into a mellow, yellow light and my spirits rose. I felt the anticipation of what is going to come.
From Danshui MRT, I took another bus going to Fisherman’s Wharf, a famous weekend go to place. It’s basically a water inlet where ships and fishing boats dock but the area has been transformed into a place of recreation and leisure. Hotels, restaurants and bars surround it. The main atraction, the Lover’s Bridge which spans across the opposing banks of the inlets, stands in the middle of it all. It’s a perfect place to view the sunset, feel the fresh sea breeze and just feel romantic about it, even if you don’t have someone with you.
Danshui Old Street
The last time I went to Danshui, I just want to relax and enjoy the passing of time. So instead of going further, I just went across the MRT station, where the old district lies and where the local trade and merchandise revolves. As Danshui is near the sea, you can see a lot of preserved sea foods being sold. A street food called iron eggs is a delicacy there but I haven’t tried it. There is a street on the parallel side of the old street which faces the Danshui river and you can literally walk along this street that doubles as a park which brings you to other key landmarks in Danshui.
Personally, I believe the ultimate Danshui experience starts even before reaching Danshui. Remember those hills I mentioned at the start? Instead of alighting at Danshui MRT, take off at Zhuwei station, the exit leads you to a foot path by the bank of Danshui river. The foot path offers a lot of nice sceneries like those hills across the river, mini-parks and mangrove reserve area in Hongshulin. You can opt to walk until you reach Danshui or rent a bicycle from those automated U-Bike stands.
There you can end the trip by tasting the various street food along Danshui old street and watch the sunset from the park across… or why not walk further until reach the Fisherman’s wharf? It will already be dark when you reach there. But the bridge would be brightly lit then. You can buy a beer or snack on grilled yams while fighting off the cold from the night sea breeze.
After this Covid-19 thing is over, I’d want to go back to Danshui, to watch the sunset or visit a different landmark. I haven’t been to Fort San Domingo which is just a few hundred meters from the old street. This is something to look forward to. For the mean time, stay safe and stay at home but don’t forget to dream.
1. Take the MRT Red Line and disembark at Danshui Station. Danshui Old Street is directly in front of the MRT Station.
2. Take bus Red 26 (R26 or 红26) going to Fisherman’s Wharf. Bus stop is right across the MRT station.
3. Alternately, alight from Zhuwei MRT station and follow the directions going to the foot path. Hike going to the direction of Hongshulin. Either you can take the train there going to Danshui or walk all the way to Danshui.
U-Bikes are also available if you wish to cycle along the foot path. U-Bikes no need to be returned. There’s another U-Bike station at Danshui where you can return the bikes.