Halfway to NoWhere

Ranting and Complaints of Life in Taiwan

Hot Springs in Taipei’s Hidden Backwaters

Well, perhaps not your average backwaters, but definitely Beitou is located in the outskirts of Taipei City. Since the early stages of the city’s development, Beitou has been regarded as one of the best places to go if your are looking to immerse yourself in hot and soothing spring water to avoid the winter chills.

But seriously, it’s not like it snows here in Taiwan. Why in the world would anyone in their right mind want to build hot spring hotels in this steaming furnace? That’s a no brainer – the Japanese. It turns out one of the first thing Japanese businessman did when they follow the colonial rulers to this island was to establish the first hot spring hotels in Beitou – the Tengu Inn and Shotouyin Hotel were some of the oldest establishments in the area.

While the early customers were either Japanese or rich Taiwanese merchants, the laymen soon joined the ranks of hot spring fans. To facilitate the means of getting to and from the booming resorts, new roads and construction projects were carried out – the most important one being the establishment of the Xinbeitou Station. The “hot spring rail” is the same path as the MRT Xinbeitou Line, bringing loads of eager visitors to hot spring country (Xinbeitou is a lot closer to the resorts than Beitou station).

One of the most notable landmarks of Xinbeitou is the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, formerly known as the Beitou Public Bath. The classical building is the result of renovations of the former public bath on the same site. Unlike the top class hot spring inns, the public bath serves the general public, charging a moderate price for use. The mix of Japanese inn and the Romanesque-style public bath makes this building a unique one.

Of course, Xinbeitou also houses one of the most well-known green buildings of Taipei – the Beitou Public Library. The whole structure resembles an over sized cottage, with abundant natural lighting and dowsed in the smell of fresh wood. Of course, if you have a chance to visit the roof of the building, you’ll find a bunch of cool air conditioning and energy garnishing systems that helps the building conserve valuable energy and water resources.

Now, if you wander by the creeks in the neighborhood, you’ll notice that the water flowing through is actually quite warm. It’s a common sight to see people soaking their lakes in the warm water (though I’ve heard that the water is actually the “dumped” hot spring water from the hotels).

Anyways, with the close vicinity of the hotel to Taipei City, it’s a great destination for residents to spend their weekend. On a cold winter day, there’s nothing better than a hot bath followed by some sake and foot massage. The Beitou experience is something you don’t want to miss if you have a chance to visit Taipei.

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September 30, 2010 - Posted by | Trips | , , , ,

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