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Exploring Taiwan: A Lesson in Geothermal Science at the Beitou Hot Springs

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!

The Beitou hot springs prior to major development

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!

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Experiencing China: Cave of a Thousand Buddhas

The Mogao Grottoes at the eastern foot of the Mingsha Mountains house the famous Cave of a Thousand Buddhas, which we recently learned about in our Africa Across the Globe segment on China at RBG Academy.

It is a great privilege to be able to learn about the impact and influence of ancient African civilizations and its voyagers with RBG community, and then see it in person. This style of learning assists my kids in cementing information from our amazing lessons into their long term memory. And I LIVE to see the lights in their eyes beam as they experience these things and absorb the greatness. They will never forget these moments!

This is not the actual cave. This place is a theme park called Splendid China Folk Culture Villages in Shenzhen, China. We were able to see twenty-five unique villages of 22 minorities which were reproduced at a ratio of 1:1. We saw caves, folk houses of each ethnic group, and also joined them in their interesting festivals. It was so interesting to see that most of the villages displayed cultural elements identical to those from Africa.

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Japan

This was a short day trip for us as we traveled back home from Singapore. We learned about and drew their flag in our travel journals, studied the location on the map, listened to people around us speak in the native tongue, and had amazing Japanese Curry Stew and Udon Noodles with soup. We learned that the currency of Japan is the Japanese Yen. We also took a short class on Japanese block printing, which was a lot of fun!

Enjoying the finer things…and scooter luggage!

Menu option on display…yum! So much better than photos in a menu, right?!

This sign was perfect for explaining the meaning of currency conversions.

I love things that provide cultural context. And the fact that it was FREE was just a bonus! We learned about this old art form of Japanese printing and had so much fun making our own replicas!

Education

Fun Airport Time for Kids

Wanna travel like the Cool Kids?

Order a piece of scooter luggage and make your children’s traveling experience go from “meh” to epic!

Since we travel so often, our kids needed something to help them keep up with us as we zip through each airport. It is also a great way for them to stay happy and active between flights – without annoying their parents! You’re welcome!

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Atlanta, Georgia

We can world school in our own backyard! This trip to Atlanta was just the domestic break we needed from all of our international travel. We were able to visit with family and friends and even picked up a new hobby which will further enhance our world schooling experiences! Keep scrolling to find out more…

During this trip, we visited the Botanical Gardens and learned a bit about botany. We learned how the exhibits were with segmented wire frames and assembled after the seeds were sown and cultivated. We learned that there was a ton of science involved in each project as we saw the lab where seeds and plants were being harvested and cared for.

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Second Stop, Thailand!

The amount of exposure we are able to provide our children on these adventures has an immeasurable impact.

We visited the Phuket Big Buddha (or the Great Buddha of Phuket) atop Nakkerd Hill in Chalong.

This past year, one of the history nuggets we memorized pertaining to Hinduism and Buddhism opened our kids’ minds to the existence of religion in other cultures. Ask them to tell you about the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism and they will recite what they’ve learned with a greater sense of awareness and understand now.

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More from Singapore!

The kids call it the “ship hotel” which sits atop the skyscrapers at Marina Bay (with the casino and mall at the bottom level, where you can take an indoor Gondola ride past high end designer stores!)

Satay by the Bay (spotted on Crazy Rich Asians) is very close…its a must try and has amazing food! Don’t leave without having their famous Chili Crab!

Nothing says “FUN” like a scavenger hunt! We drew these in our journals, then tried to see how many the Singaporean flags we could spot around town as we were out and about.

Just for giggles, we headed over to SlappyCakes to design our own pancakes on our very own griddle. We made a clock and practiced telling time, then we practiced spelling, scrambling and unscrambling the word “Singapore.” This is the PRE-syrup pic! Operating the griddle was interesting…all of the instructions were in Chinese!

We visited Little India for some authentic pastries and sweets.

And excuse the cultural appropriation, but in Little India, we found a really good henna tattoo artist who did a great job for $5SD!

We also ate at the Banana Leaf in Little India and literally ate on banana leaves! The kids LOVED the food! Well, all except for the Curry Fish Head Stew. Though I thought it was delish! I was impressed at how well everyone kept their composure while trying something interesting and new!

Stay tuned for more soon!