Clouds over Beitou


DAY 15

(Reading time: 4 minutes)

The Starks were right; winter is coming. From the daily 30°C, we were shocked to experience a drastic decrease to chilling 23°C!

Taiwanese people stopped carrying umbrellas for shade.

Taiwanese people started wearing winter jackets.

Taiwanese people even wrapped their dogs in winter coats.

It was time to escape to warmth.

Beitou Hot Spring.

Beitou area, where hot sulfur springs bubble up due to volcanic activity, is easily accessible by the red metro line (MRT Beitou) and then a short ride on the pink line (Xinbeitou), which is a blessing for all Taipei residents and residents living nearby. Spa town just a stone’s throw away from the capital.

The spa “town” offers many ways to spend the day. Most people come here, naturally, for bathing. In various ways – outdoors, indoors, publicly, privately, segregated by gender or together, with swimsuits or without. However, each spa has its own rules. We ended up with the “bring your own swimsuit” rule, as we didn’t bring any to Taiwan (we’re not exactly enthusiastic swimmers, so we rarely take swimsuits with us when traveling), leaving us with one option (the best one 😊) – booking a private bath.

Beitou Hot Spring Resort offered private rooms with an onsen (Japanese style hot bath) for rent for 90 minutes. Each room is equipped with two pools (hot sulfur/cold water), a shower, toiletries including a hairdryer, bottled water, and a lounge area with a sofa. We certainly wouldn’t trade it for public outdoor bathing in swimsuits, even though that can also be an experience. Especially the queuing just to get into the area…

After soaking and relaxing, we went for a walk around the area. You’ll find a historic wooden train station, a hot spring museum, a park, or a beautiful library building in the area.

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A bit higher up the road lies a thermal valley with the main reservoir of hot sulfur water for Beitou. However, bathing is strictly prohibited here as the water temperature reaches 80-100°C. In the past, when it was still allowed to boil eggs in the hot water, there were accidents and burns, so the valley was fenced off and is now only suitable for a walk around and observing the sulfur fumes or smelling their specific scent.

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Back in Taipei, we used free afternoon to visit a building we hadn’t checked off our list yet – the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

The grand building is a memorial to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a political leader and “father” of modern China, who played a crucial role in overthrowing the Qing imperial dynasty. He was the founder of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, which was then led by Chiang Kai-shek after his death.

In the main hall, there is a larger-than-life statue of Sun Yat-sen, and an hourly changing of the honor guard takes place there.

Other rooms feature exhibitions documenting his life and career as a leader of the revolutionary movement, temporary art exhibitions, and an educational center.

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And since it was so cold outside (even below 20°C in the evening, the horror!), it was time to reward ourselves with excellent food. Nothing warms you up like a hot bowl of ramen. It may not be Taiwanese food, but we can’t resist Japanese cuisine in general. Ramen, sushi, tonkatsu curry, taiyaki, takoyaki… luckily, we found all these dishes in Taiwan.

A person is happy when they have “warmth in their belly.”

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  • Public baths in the Beitou area were smaller than I expected, so they reached maximum visitor capacity very quickly, leaving newcomers with nothing to do but wait outside in line until space became available.
  • The entrance fee to the private bath we visited also included a dessert with a drink at the hotel café.
  • The changing of the honor guard for Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sen takes place in the form of a ritual lasting about 10 minutes with elaborate choreography (at one point, it reminded me of a majorette performance).



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