Day 13 – Taipei – Wulai

Today I decided to go to Wulai. Wulai is a hot springs spot. It’s a few minutes south of Taipei, so I started my day by going up to the bus stop and, with the help of friendly Taiwanese, finding my way onto the bus. The bus ride wasn’t all that long.

When I got there I walked along the main street area. This was a lot better set up than Joifen, mainly because the street was very wide and not clogged up with people. This allowed me to walk at a brisk pace, but to stop and check something out if it looked interesting. That’s how it should be.

Walked over a bridge, and down a long path I think was called the Lover’s Path. There was another small town at the end with a few aboriginal restaurants and a waterfall. I went to the aboriginal restaurant, and after staring at the menu for a long time I got the bamboo rice. I wanted to order something else, but I think they misunderstood, and I just had the rice. It was good though! I quickly visited the visitor’s center, and then headed back down Lover’s path.

I stopped at a hot spring spa, and after asking if they had some kind of English menu they got some really lovely woman to help me out. She spoke really good English and actually didn’t work at the hotel. Her mother worked at some place around the area and she just visited that spa now and then. She was also married to a Canadian guy, and was pregnant. Oddly enough, I did not even notice she was pregnant until she mentioned it. So she showed me all the various rooms the spa had and told me what costs each of them were. She also gave me some suggestions for what to eat in the area, as well as where the public hot springs were. I thanked her, and headed off in the direction she pointed to the public hot springs.

This turned out to be such a great place. I went to the hot springs, and since I didn’t really have a bathing suit I just took off my pants in the changing area and was in my boxers (which look like a black bathing suit anyway). I started to get into the hot springs, but an old man pointed to the rinsing station. I then recalled that some guides I had read told me that you were supposed to rinse yourself off before entering the hot spring. So I did so. They had these empty laundry detergent bottles that you could scoop the warm water up and pour it onto yourself. One of the nicest baths I’ve had. Finally I started to get into the water, but once again the old man told me through a system of pointing that I should drink some tea before getting in. So I went to the tea station, where I just guess the tea was free and available to all. A guy poured me a few cups, and upon learning I could only speak English they called over one woman out of the whole site to come over and chat with me. She was a very nice lady who could speak alright. She had a son in Memphis, and a daughter in New York, or maybe it was the other way around. Anyhow, we chatted and drank tea for a while. Some cute girl who kept eyeing me brought over some very strange fruits that were bitter but very watery, and sort of pear like in texture. (She was too young to hit on).

Then I got into the hot springs. It was so warm and relaxing. The old men tried to get me to go into the REALLY hot pool, which I dipped my foot into but it was so hot I had to go back to the medium heated pool. I don’t even know how they could stand being in that kind of heat. I got out now and then and watched people swimming in the river, and diving from a platform. Down the way a bit there was a place to easily get in and out of the river with a kind of hot spring showers at the entrance. I saw some guy who was from Virginia and he commented that between the two of us we had more hair on our chest than the whole town combined, which was probably true.

After a while I was satisfied and happy. I walked around the streets again, and went down to the river edge to skip some rocks for a while. Got some sticky rice cake with honey on it, which was stretchy and weird but tasted good. I also got some dinner of wild vegetables and wild meat of some sort. It was alright. Bought some millet wine as well as these small flavored gummy treats.

Took the bus back to Taipei. I pretty much went right back to Ola’s place because it was late, and I shared my millet wine and gummy treats with her.

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