Wild Taiwan

A lady of leisure writes about wildlife in Taiwan.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Beitou 竹內溫泉餐廳

We went to look for the spa 竹內溫泉餐廳 that was mentioned in the Taipei guide book available in the stores now. It's all in mandarin, with no directions on how to get there other than an address. It mentioned that this spa place is also some kind of farm and if you take the hotspring dip in the evening, you can see the sunset. All sounds very nice so I guess my imagination got the better of me.

See views of the place: http://www.twem.idv.tw/3/9/1/a95.htm

We took the bus 260 to the terminus and walked along Shamaoshan Road to the address mentioned. Along the way, we passed by the Shamao trail that leads to the top of the hill. We saw a crushed giant earthworm, about 1 foot long and a family of Formosan macaques. We heard them first then we saw them. They were making warning noises and we peeped through the foliage and saw them in the undergrowth.

The view was very nice; with the evening sun, coating the trees to a shade of golden brown. Those trees in the shadow of the hills remained green and fresh. The sky was cloudless and blue.

We walked and walked, always had to be wary of approaching traffic as there was no pedestrian walkways. In certain section the road for the two way traffic was so narrow, we had to run past that stretch when there was a lull in the traffic.

Finally, we reached the 竹內溫泉餐廳. It was such a let down. I was thinking of seeing animals, nice looking spa but you can see for yourself the pictures of the place in the link. I supposed my expectations were too high.

However, if you should like to go see for yourself, you can take the 230 bus from Beitou which sort of stops directly opposite the spa.

Now, the bus ride on 230 is something else altogether. As mentioned earlier, the roads have no pedestrian walkways, some stretches are so narrow, there is only room for a bus stop on one side of the road, after that is either the hill or the sheer drop into the valley. If you want to take the bus on the opposite side of the road, you'll just have to stand on the other side of the road to the bus stop and signal to the bus driver to stop. If a car drives a bit slower, then the traffic gets bunched up behind this car. When there's no traffic, some drivers tend to speed and have their engines roaring away. You can hear them coming miles away, that's the time to flatten ourselves against the hill or squeeze ourselves to the side of the edge leading down to the valley.

The bus had to make many hair pin turns going downhill. As we were standing we could see the bottom of the valley where the hotsprings originate. It looked almost like a mine, there was no vegetation, just white rocks, sands, water vapour and the milky white pools of hotsprings. The rotten egg smell was unmistakable, due to H2S, hydrogen sulphide. Lots of pipes were seen piping the hotspring water to the various spas in the area. They looked like thick black wire cables. I wondered how the spa owner know how to repair the pipes if it should leak along the miles of piping going along the sides of the mountain, forest etc. Some cars were parked right beside the hotsprings and I supposed these dare devils braved the smell and the heat to take their dips.

Hotspring therapies are very popular here in Taiwan. The various springs come in different temperatures, from mid thirties Celsius, about 40s to a high of 50. There are individual jacuzzies type in private rooms, or communal pools for men or women, outdoors. Some dip in the hotspring stark naked while others wear swimming costumes.