Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Taipei Hot Spring Town - Beitou

When you come to Taipei in a cool day, you just can't miss the wonderful hot spring towns near Taipei.  There are two famous hot spring towns near Taipei, one is Beitou, the other is Wulai.

To go to Beitou, take the MRT to Beitou station, then transfer to another train to New Beitou station, which is also the terminal station of the MRT.  The train commuting between Beitou & New Beitou is very special.  The carriage is decorated as a bath house, with bath tubs as coffee table for you to view the visuals.

MRT Train to New Beitou

Beitou used to be a place specially for the Japanese during Japanese occupation, so there are a lot of traces of Japanese influence.

Beitou Hot Spring Museum

Beitou's hot spring museum was once a Japanese bath house.  The architecture is a mixture of Japanese and English style, so you find it a bit odd.

The bath is located on the ground floor, and it is of Roman style!  It is quite a fusion of different cultures, isn't it?

Looking out of the window from the Roman bath, it is lush greenery.  The Roman style windows are decorated with stained glasses.  I can imagine how relaxing and enjoyable the bath goers were.

In the hot spring museum, there was also a display of a kind of special rock named Beitou Rock.  It is said that such rock can only be found in the hot spring streams in Beitou.

Next to the hot spring museum, there is the Beitou Public Library.

I would say it is architecturally unique, and blends well with its neighbour - the hot spring museum.

To get to the source of Beitou's hot spring, you will inevitably pass by this wooden bridge.

This wooden bridge was featured in one of the Japanese/Taiwanese movies from old old days.  It is one of those places that reminds Japanese their (un)glory past.

The stream running under the bridge is steaming hot too.  The smell of Sapphire is in the air.  Luckily the smell is not too strong.

Following the stream brings you to the source of the hot spring - Hell Valley, now renamed to Thermal Valley.

Steam bath here, anyone?  The smell here is very strong, the steam spreads all across the valley.

On the way back, I passed by Mr Yu You-Ren(于右任) residence - Plum Garden.  Here we could see his calligraphy.

Actually further down the road, we can reach a place called Zen Garden.  Don't be fulled by the Buddhistic name, it was the prison for Gen Zhang Xueliang (张学良) when he was under house arrest in Taiwan.

After such a long walk, what else can be better than having a hot spring bath?

This place was one of the 3 Japanese style baths built during Japanese occupation and the only one that is still in operation.  It is said that in its garden, there is something that recorded the visit of then Crown Prince, the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito's visit to Beitou.

This place is very old and facilities are rudimentary.  It is such a big contrast to all the other modern hot spring establishments.  Anyway, it is cheap, only NT90 for a bath.

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