a magpie. a taiwanese one, that is. google images can provide a better image, but this is the one you saw with your own eyes.
to be seeing birds, that can only mean one thing: you’ve escaped the city.
escaping taipei is no difficult task. you hope on a bus in any direction. and 40 minutes later, you hear nothing but the sounds of nature.
the daytrip today involved a natural hot spring.
taiwan is famous for it hot springs.
but you must be careful. the cities of beitou or wulai are renowned for them. but they are also clean hotels and resorts with pools with the sulfurous water pumped in. two reasons – the hot spring water is too hot to just dip in at the source, and, of course, money. those places are not free.
but. today there exists the internet. and after searching for “natural hot spring taipei” you find one. a potential one, in yangmingshan mountain.
a short hike is required.
and if you’re lucky, you just might run into the unofficial guardian of the hot springs who will lead you directly there. if not, just follow the path.
some rule-breaking is also required as it is, ahem, illegal to go here.
some treacherous bridge crossing will need to be done.
you must also prepare yourself for poisonous snakes.
the best strategy is to stay on the trail. if you leave the trail, you are game for some snake dinner.
there is water. but this is not your destination. and why are the rocks orange, you ask?
do not forget your umbrella. you may laugh at asian tourists, but your skin won’t once you feel the heaviness of the humid heat pressing down on you.
some crossing-of-river-by-small-pebbles is also required.
don’t worry. you’re almost there.
here you are.
hot 100F/42C hot spring water on the left meet right in the middle with cold freshwater on the right means this is where you can change into your swimsuit and take a dip.
and that is exactly what you do.
this place is actually no secret. illegal yes, but more than well-known.
evidence would be the clock hung up, the many sandbags used to form pools, and the foam pads to sit on if the rocks are too hot.
some shade provides relief against the sun. in france you embrace the sun, in taiwan you avoid it.
you sit – drink water – and when it becomes too hot to bear, you get up.
then you follow the stream of cold water.
right for a cold shoulder massage under a waterfall.
but then you’re cold.
so you hop back into a hot spring pool. and repeat.
for the entire afternoon.
but around five pm, when the sun is weaker – suddenly the place changes.
the tourists arrive. what was a secluded afternoon turns into a circus.
so then you decide to leave your little paradise.
you and your friend agree that sometimes it is worth breaking rules because you will only miss out on life if you choose to always follow them.