I woke up disgustingly early this morning and walked out with my friend to grab something to drink, since there was nothing in the house and we were parched from a good party the night before. We parted ways at the 7-11 and I went on to the MRT station. It was only 7:30, so nothing was open and I couldn’t find a way to charge my phone and thus get in touch with my friends who I was hoping to go to some hot springs with. Because of the hour and the hopeless phone situation, I decided to go with my default plan and head to Beitou, company or no.
I arrived in Beitou (北投) and walked up the main road of the hot springs area. This road goes past a beautiful little park that includes the library, the hot springs museum, and the public hot springs. I didn’t want to go straight to the hot springs, so I headed over to the library and stood in line for ten minutes before it opened. Once inside, the librarian helped me get a list of libraries in Xinzhuang and I settled in to read for a comfortable hour or so.
At ten, I decided I couldn’t waste my Sunday reading when there was hot spring-ing to do, so I headed up the road to the public hot springs. The public bath runs in 3 hour cycles: open for 2.5 hours and half an hour off to clean, and 10am is the start of the cleaning time, so I detoured onto the creek trail that runs along the other side of the park and hot springs to waste some time. Beitou is a very green and beautiful district and everything looked and felt even better because of the cold and overcast weather. When enough time had passed, I spent my last 40元 in change to get in, and hurriedly changed into my bathing suit. Short sleeves in that kind of weather is great, but only for so long, and I really needed to jump in and enjoy the warmth!
The public hot springs at Beitou have 3 terraced hot pools and one cold pool off to the side. I don’t recommend wearing glasses in because when you’re adapting to the heat in the bottom pool, you can see just how ineffective the cleaning process is. I don’t know if it was this bad last time, but I freaked out a little bit. I reassured myself that I could shower off when I was done and continued to soak. A middle-aged gentleman made conversation for a while, and when I worked up my courage to try the hotter middle pool, he was very encouraging. The hot springs are supposed to be a community event, and when you don’t speak the language, it’s easy to miss and skip that experience; this man provided some training wheels for me.
I lasted for about 10 minutes in the middle pool, and then I had to get out. I eased my way into the cold pool and it was beautiful for about fifteen minutes… until the chill seeped all the way in! It took a while to realize it, since my extremities weren’t cold, but within 15 seconds of starting to shiver, my core heat was gone and I ran for the dirty warm pool. If I had gone with friends and had eaten some breakfast and gotten some sleep the night before, I would have repeated the cycle for another hour and three quarters, but I was in a pleasantly relaxed state and just wanted to be home, so I left.
I was distracted, though, by an aboriginal museum on the way back to the station, but talking about that can wait, since I’m sure I’ll go back.