A Travellerspoint blog

Beitou: The Natural Hot Springs

rain 21 °C

Today is my final day in Taipei and then I start my trip back for home and returning to my normal life back in Edmonton. It's also a new beginning for me with having to sort out a few things and moving forward with my life.

I still continued with the thoughts around taking things in a positive stride. Unlike my last post, I do not intend to cite out more positive attributes in this entry, but its just an understanding of my thoughts as I spend the final few hours in Taiwan. So what did I do today. Well, today was a gloomy day in Taiwan with light showers and completely overcast. As a result, I decided to take it slow and considering the eventful day that I had yesterday, I had no intention of pushing limits today.

The one thing that I had avoided so far in terms of food was the hotpot and to top it off, I wanted to try the Mala Hotpot. Made with Mala sauce, it is a popular oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil. Regarded as a regional dish for Chongqing cuisine and Sichuan cuisine, it has become one of the most popular sauces in Chinese cuisine and spawned many regional variants.

I decided to make my way to Ximen district to the famous Mala Hotpot. Its a quick 5 minute walk from the Ximen station and is located on the 2nd floor of the building. Now, it is a little pricey and all the more pricier when it is just one person eating. Normally, it would be priced at NT545 per person (23 CAD) for lunch while in a group, but when eating alone it cost me NT745 (32 CAD). I still decided to go for it and it was indeed worth the chance taken. While there was a limit to the meat, the rest were in abundance, which included a great selection of drinks, desserts and ice creams. The food was really fresh and the Mala soup was indeed numbing but very flavourful. This would be a repeat.

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Beitou Hot Springs

After about 2 hours at the hotpot restaurant, I decided to head over the Beitou district which is known to be the famous home of hot springs in the Taipei area. Beitou is the most convenient area for travellers visiting Taipei to enjoy authentic thermal hot springs.

During the Japanese occupation, the area around the natural hot springs was developed into a resort destination filled with nice resorts, inns, hotels, tea houses, parks, and public baths. As a result of its immense popularity, a train line and station were built to attract visitors from far and wide to enjoy the beauty of the area. The area around Xinbeitou station is filled with various public and private baths.

The three common types of hot springs include green sulfur (slightly green colored and only found in Beitou and Akita, Japan), white sulfur (a milky colored spring which make up the majority of springs in the area), and iron sulfur (transparent springs found around the Ding Beitou area).

It was just an amazing experience with being there in that humid environment with a light smell of the suphur and seeing all the natural steam covering the light green water.

I also got a chance to go visit the Beitou Hot Springs Musuem, which provides and insight to the history of the area, as well as descriptions on the fauna and flora in the area and some sample bath sets that were prevalent (some do still exist) in the area.

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I decided then and there itself that I would try out the public bath space in the area and checked in at the Beitou Hot Springs Resort. This was indeed a very high end public bath that had the option of a public space as well as a private bath space for couples. I managed to spend about 2 hours here in the bath and taking in hospitality offered by the patrons at the hotel. Definitely an experience, but my preference would still be Spa World in Osaka!

At about 7pm, I decided to head back to the hostel and relax and pack up things. I definitely was not tired, but I figured it was best to just relax and prep myself for the 18 hour flight back to Edmonton. Once I got back to the hostel, I noticed the host, Naoya, sitting on the couch and he and I got chatting. I decided to take him out for dinner to try out the local Taiwanese food and he was more than willing to join me and enabling me to experience what traditional Taiwanese people eat. We found ourself at a vendor about 5 minutes away from the hostel. We splurged when it came to making the order. We got 2 orders each of the Lu Rou fan (pork with rice), Sweet potato leaves with garlic sauce and chicken rou with ginger. All this for NT 150 (7.5 CAD). I also bought a papaya for NT50 but interestingly, I could have bought 4 of them for a NT100. Sighs... if only I had known earlier.

Naoya and myself enjoyed the food and the conversation while watching Wolverine on the TV. It was his first insight to superhero based movies and he was totally into it. I was just enjoying seeing his expression watching the movie! Oh to be in your early 20's again. That's two people that I have met on my trip so far that have had some influence in my thoughts.

Posted by soulsearch295 13:25 Archived in Taiwan Tagged springs valley resort hot hotpot shinkansen mala ximen beitou xinbeitou therma

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