I planned a trip to a natural hot spring in the Beitou District of northern Taipei, Taiwan for a lesson in geology, as it relates to geothermal heating, tectonic plates and the Ring of Fire. If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with extremely hot rocks. The water from hot springs is heated in this manner. Astonishingly, my children knew a lot about this already, prior to my lesson. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they knew about hot springs in the Ring of Fire. They were beyond excited to be able to experience these natural hot tubs, and I was thankful for a moment of relaxation and muscle therapy! We dove a bit deeper into a discussion about the sulfur content in the water, the health benefits, and how some hot springs are not as safe to bathe in, due to their intensely high temperatures. I was also way to excited to whip out my (eh hem) Sophisticated Prairie View A&M Collegiate Engineering Knowledge to answer questions regarding the water’s movement and delivery into the pools and tubs. All in all, this was the perfect combination of fun, relaxation and learning. A big thank you to PBS’s Molly of Denali series for helping jump start my lesson regarding this phenomena!
This photo was taken prior to the development of bath houses and spa resorts in Beitou. During Japan’s occupation of Taiwan in the early 1940’s, the Japanese built resort style inns around these sulfur rich mineral baths. Today, there are over 30+ spa resorts in Beitou.
Though there were many options, we chose to visit the Spring City Resort, because it had a nice warm waterfall play area for children and was reasonably priced . We booked this through Klook.com and received an amazing rate for the day. The price for visiting the public bath area for a full day with the option of an afternoon tea or a Japanese meal set was $29.45 USD per person. Had we opted out of the tea/Japanese meal, the price would have been $16.35 USD per person.
We visited in mid-November, and the weather was the perfect temperature to balance out the heat from the springs. The high for the day was 74 degrees F.
We were very impressed with the size of the outdoor spa area. There were nine multifunctional pools. The large semi-circle shaped family pool and waterfall pool can be seen easily from the birds eye view above.
Onsite, there were also cafes, warm sulfur paddling ponds, private spa suites (shown below), restaurants, and hotel rooms equipped with hot spring baths (shown above).
And yes, we all entered the spa looking like the school cafeteria lunch ladies. It is imperative that everyone with hair, men included, cover their heads before entering the springs.
After spending time in the spa, we returned to our changing room, showered, and headed inside for our Japanese meal. I noticed that Japanese culture is still very prominent here.
On the way up to the restaurant, we saw some familiar faces. It’s always good to see soul brothers when we travel…real or not! Though there was no actual music playing, I bounced along happily to a beat only I could hear, as if I’d just seen a long lost cousin. Soulful jazz lovers and aficionados can be found all over the world! My kids sure did get a quick Black history lesson as we stood there and marveled at these Greats.
I was now full in spirit and ready to invoke that same feeling to my belly! There was a five course Japanese style meal waiting for us.
Lots of chopstick practice for the kids on this trip…they are slowly getting the hang of it. The wraps were a hit. We particularly enjoyed the seaweed. Two thumbs up!
Then they brought out the chicken…
Chicken teriyaki with a pineapple chunk and some pink stuff (maybe ginger) for the win! The kids really liked this one. Two thumbs up!
This is shrimp tempura with eggplant tempura and bell peppers. It received one (out of two) thumbs up. Wasn’t fried hard enough for me, but we gave it one thumb because the shrimp was seasoned well and the sauce was on point!
This is a citrus rice and papery dried baby shrimp (Xia Pi (虾皮) in Chinese) dish. We all fulfilled our daily “Try It Challenge” with this one. The rice was tasty, but the texture of the shrimp was, well…hard, dry and papery – and too tiny to pick around. Needless to say, we gave this one two thumbs down. Our next activity would provide us with the kind of shrimp we really liked! Check out our next post: Our Shrimping Adventure with the Locals – a Favorite Taiwanese Past-time!