Pingxi Coal Mines

Pingxi is perhaps best known for its Sky Lantern Festival, which takes place at night. I・m going to show you what you can do before the festival, during the day.
From Taipei, you can take the train to Ruifang, then hop on the Pingxi Line. The scenery along the way is quite nice - lots of mountains and trees, which are very soothing to look at. We・re going to get off at Shifen Station.
We・re here, and I want to show you this place, an old coal mine.
Pingxi was the largest coal mining area in Taiwan. These carts used to transport both coal and workers.
This is an old mine shaft, and it goes straight in for about 1,000 meters. Out here it・s really wide and it feels a little bit chilly, but as you go in, it gets narrower, deeper and hotter. It gets so hot in there that some of the menu used to work only in their birthday suits.
Coal seams in Taiwan are relatively narrow. Here they・re only about 40-90 cm wide, so workers would have to excavate on their backs, on their sides and sometimes on their stomachs. It was really tough work.
Not only was the work tough, it was dangerous, too. Where there・s coal, you・ll probably find methane gas. One tiny spark can cause a fireball that will burn up all the oxygen in the shaft. The ones that don・t die from the fire might die instead of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Because of the risks involved, they were paid quite well. But for a lot of the workers, as soon as they were paid, they・d spend the money, knowing that they might not make it out alive after the next work day. The dangerous profession was put to an end in the last century when coal became much cheaper to import.
Walking around the old coal mine really reminded me that you never know when life is going to end, be it your own, or that of someone you care about. So, we should try to enjoy it while we can. You should come.

 
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