Due to my flight arriving around mid-day and the distance from the airport to my accommodation, I did not plan to do much on my first day in Taiwan. I read somewhere, when conducting my "research" aka blog-hopping, of a famous hot spring town known as Beitou. This piqued my interest. I have fond memories of hot springs when I took my only and last dip 4.5years ago in Tokyo (surrounded by old naked ladies - an experience indeed) so naturally I added this town onto my itinerary.
After getting some assistance from the reception on directions and recommendations, we were off to navigate the metro lines and streets of Taipei. Fortunately the travel to Beitou was pretty straightforward but unfortunately for us, we were sandwiched throughout the packed train ride. We learned from one of the passengers that it was the first day of the hot spring season, hence there was a festival going on to celebrate this.
Once we were out of the station, I was glad we chose that particular day to visit. It was quite entertaining to see performances and varied stalls along the street. We wandered around a path, following the crowds, and passed by this amazing wooden structure which turned out to be their local public library (4th image). Because we took a different route back to the station, we were unable to take a look inside which I imagine would be pretty stunning.
On our leisurely walk, we spotted lots of activity in front a small building and decided to enter it. After taking off our shoes and being handed a pair of indoor slippers, we realised that it was a museum documenting the history of hot springs at Beitou. The Euro-Japanese building was built during the Japanese occupation period and used to be the largest public bathhouse in East Asia during its time. It was fascinating to see how hot springs became embedded into the Taiwanese culture.
The thermal valley (7th image) was another spot we visited and possibly my favourite. I've never seen anything like it. The constant rising steam from the green-coloured spring makes it look mysterious and otherworldly. But the strong smell of sulfur brings you back to reality. The surface of the spring was constantly bubbling away and standing beside it, I felt like I was slowly melting. An amazing sight and smell.
Turned out to be a perfect start to my stay at Taiwan.