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Posts Tagged ‘Beitou’

Cold hash

I believe I first discovered the Hash House Harriers in college when I was looking up additional lyrics to band songs.  It seemed  like a fun, interesting, funny, and rude hobby, but I never actually got out into LA to do it.  Every hash seemed dead and I didn’t want to drive to find out the truth.  Then I moved to New Mexico and had a lot more time, but the closest option was El Paso which just felt so far because it was across the state line.

This Sunday, I finally kicked myself out of my computer chair and joined up with the China Hash for a run from Xinbeitou.  I was thrilled because it has been crazy cold recently (well, below 60ºF) and I planned to hit the hot springs afterward.  Even though I was late, the group hadn’t set off, so I met a few people and we got a taxi, following flour on the road and thoroughly confusing the driver.  Once we arrived, there was more chatting where I met a nice Dutch tourist who I mistakenly called German later (it’s okay, we bonded over how adorable Afrikaans is), followed by a brief orientation and then an immediate and abrupt start.

The course began by a small park with a creek on the edges of Beitou, and proceeded immediately into the brush of Yangmingshan.  It would be hard to describe the enjoyment I took in running through mud beside tiny vegetable fields, worming through bamboo groves, and slipping down a cliff, so I won’t.  The rain only made it better, even though I couldn’t see well.  By the end, I was muddy and wet, but at least I wasn’t cold!  I hadn’t brought enough clothes to change into, because, even though I knew it was in Yangmingshan, I had gotten to used to the Taiwanese idea that hiking requires pavement.  The upshot of all this is I was really looking forward to the Beitou hot springs by the end of the Down Down, but I was sorely disappointed.  I really need to tattoo their hours on my arm or something, because I never seem to get it right.

It was a lot of fun, and next week will be some place I’ve never been, and my roommate is interested, so I’m looking forward to it!  The week after, my birthday, is in Yingge, so that will be both convenient and a nice occasion.  On on!

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Beautiful Beitou

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.

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