Like all big cities of the world, Tai Pei is more a collection of small boroughs that come together to create one metropolitan area. Each little corner has its own distinct flavor and attractions, and people make their way to spot to see what they have to offer while never really leaving the loving embrace of the city. I wish I could say the same of Xinbeitou, but when I took the subway to this part of the Tai Pei, I felt as if I had traveled out of the city and found myself in a small mountain town on the island of Taiwan. It had more of a sense of community than other places I have seen here, and it gave off a slower vibe than the heart of the city.
There was probably two reasons for this feeling. The first was because of the rain. This little corner of Tai Pei is really a touristy part of the city, and I am sure on nice sunny days, I would be able to see people wander all over the paths that this place has to offer. But like all rain storms, more people found the shelter of indoor activities instead of braving the weather and coming out to this place.
The second reason is because of the hot springs that are located here. If you have never immersed yourself into these healing waters, you never have understood what it means to unwind and let the problems of the world disappear. There are public pools that can be found by taking a short hike up the hill from the subway station, and it houses three different pools with varying levels of heat to them. Unlike other natural hot springs, this one does not smell of rotten eggs, and the waters here are so relaxing.
Granted, being one of the few people that come from the western part of the world, I had many people stare at me, wondering what I was doing at this location, but it was the perfect outdoor activity to do on a rainy day. While I soak myself in the water, the cooling rain beat down on my head, and I was constantly in balance between the two varying ways that water can cleanse. It also helped with what would have been an overcrowded situation. I am sure if it was not rainy, there would have been more people at this location.
I am sorry that I was unable to get pictures from inside of the hot springs, but the place has a strict no picture policy that makes sense to me. People are going there to relax and they probably do not want to be a part of many people’s vacation photos, so in order to respect their privacy, nobody takes any pictures. If you do ever go, you need to make sure that you bring the right kind of swimsuit. This mean that the fabric has to be a swimsuit and not beach shorts. They checked my suit before I entered, and I did not have the right one. Luckily, they sell the right kind of suits at the place, and are willing to let you buy one after they yell at you a bit for not bringing the right swimsuit, but I am used to this. It seems to be something that happens to me on a regular basis while I live in Asia. I am always doing something wrong based on the customs out here, and they are quick to let me know this.
Even with these minor stresses, it was still the place that allowed me to breathe for a moment from this busy life that I live. It wasn’t only the hot springs that made the voyage worth it, but the small town feel, and the beautiful sights that were around every corner. This is a must do thing for anybody coming out to Tai Pei, and it doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you go. I would assume that the colder and wetter it is outside, the better the experience will be.