Tuesday, May 4, 2010


On Monday we took a bus out to Wulai, a hot spring town about an hour out of Taipei. It was a far better experience than any Japanese onsen I've been to yet. First of all, it's free. It's outdoors alongside a river so you have a magnificent view. This means that it's also co-ed and requires swimsuits, which is a plus. The water has no sulfur so it's not stinky. We changed into our suits at the makeshift changing shacks, rinsed off, and picked a pool. It was a far more relaxed atmosphere than the Japanese onsen. There were dogs lounging around the pool and people were passing around bowls of food. We moved into a hotter pool after that. I only got up to my knees but Greg managed to sit for a few minutes. After much goading by the locals we went down to the river itself. The runoff from the hot spring ends up there, so it has the bizarre effect of making the surface near scalding but anything two inches below the surface is incredibly cold. I swam a few circles for a few minutes before heading back up to warmer waters.

We visited an aboriginal restaurant for lunch. Andrew Zimmern visited the same place on Bizarre Foods:

Although our vegetarianism forced us to decline the bees and the rotten jar of meat, we did enjoy the very tasty betelnut flower salad. The nuts themselves are commonly sold by scantily clad women on the side of the road to passing truck drivers. It has the effect of keeping the chewer awake and his mouth bright red. We have declined to give it a go. We also had a mushroom and rice dumpling, bird's nest ferns, and really delicious fried balls of taro and mochi.

Our last stop in Wulai was the waterfall. You ride a gondola to the top where they have some sad looking outdoor activities and a very out of place haunted house ride. We also enjoyed the rope course.

On the way back to the bus stop from the gondola you can ride a tiny, rickety train that was previously used to transport logs up and down the hill. All and all it was a very worthwhile day trip from Taipei.

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