Subscribe to far-flung places
Sign up here
and receive email alerts when this blog is updated.

 Add to your RSS reader

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hot Spots in Taiwan

I bet you didn't know Taiwan was such a hot spot. In fact, it is...literally.

Taiwan is ranked among the top 15 hot spring sites in the world, according to The country lies on a fault line where two tectonic plates meet in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, there are tons of places--more than 100--where warm water bubbles up from underneath the earth's surface.

Taiwan also is home to a rare saltwater hot spring, located on Green Island. Saltwater springs are so rare that they are found only in two other places in the world—on the Japanese island of Kyushu and in Northern Italy.

I sampled my first Taiwanese hot spring at the Spring Park Urai Resort and Spa in Wulai. The name of the town derives from the Atayal phrase, kirofu ulai, meaning "hot and poisonous." Despite the warning, the water is clear, colorless, and odorless; it is said that bathing in it keeps the skin moist, and that drinking it is effective against stomach problems.

Wulai boasts the largest free-of-charge hot-spring area in Taiwan, and I have to admit that I would have preferred a more rustic, bathe-in-the-river experience. The resort offered a more luxurious experience, but when it comes right down to it, I essentially rented a bath tub for an hour.

The steaming hot sunken tub was set in grey slate stone with views of the Nanshih River through a large window. The resort provided towels, flip flops, a rinsing bucket and toiletries.

Apparently there is bathing etiquette that one must follow, especially if you are in a public hot spring. For example, unless the pools are mixed sex, you're expected to be naked, and you should shower before getting in. It's best to wait at least an hour after eating before bathing, and to avoid hot springs altogether if you've been drinking alcohol.

I think I'm going to stick to bathing at home by myself from now on.

No comments: