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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Xin Bei Tou 新北投 @ Taiwan

Known for its hot-springs, lush greeneries and rich Ketagalan culture, Beitou (北投) might just be the ideal place one might be looking for a quick getaway from the bustling city life. Attractions include the Hell Valley (Geothermal valley), Hot-springs Museum and the Ketagalan Cultural Center.

If you're interested in their hot-springs, you could find a hundred and one of them, both private and public (gender-mixed, male/female separate). Most public hot-springs' rules would require the user to put on a swimsuit, unless it is gender-separated. These tubs of goodness have a light sulfur smell, and vary in temperature and acidity, but usually hovers around 50 - 90 degrees celsius with an acidity level of ph 4.

If you're looking for a pleasant environment to relax and unwind, Sweetme Hotspring Resort offers a spacious private room with basic toiletries at an affordable price. Read my review about this resort here

Directions to CKS Memorial Hall

1. Take the MRT to Beitou Station (Tamsui line), switch to Beitou-Xinbeitou line, take to Xinbeitou Station (only one stop)!

Public hot-springs are a plenty, but looking for the right one might need some research work. Some of them even have little stalls outside selling small bites (such as, eggs and corncob) cooked in various ways using the vast resources of hot-spring waters. 

Hot-spring egg (温泉蛋)! To be utterly honest, no difference leh.

Fun fact: Its name originated from the Ketagalanese aboriginal word "paktaaw" (meaning "house of the witches"), as one might make a clever guess: the smoke (and sometime it's eerily green) emitted from the ponds and lakes resembles the ones steaming out from the witches' cauldron.

Here's another fun fact: During the Japanese colonial era, beitou is known as a red-light district. You got me right - a freaking prostitute house. I mean, hot-springs with Taiwanese babes and cold beer, what could be possibly be better than that. In the new era, this place is now known to be a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.

We did not visit any hot-springs this visit, but went around to explore what beitou has to offer. One of the biggest attraction here is definitely the geothermal valley, or better known as the "Hell Valley". It is a volcanic crater filled with translucent jade-colored sulfur waters and is one of two of it's kind, the other is in Akita, Japan.

Want to dive straight in? You better heed the advice of several warning signage all around the valley. It's not nick-named "Hell Valley" for nothing, the temperature of the waters could rise up to 100 degrees celsius and has an acidity level of ph 1-2 (extremely corrosive!). Who knows? You might just corrode to nothing but bones and cartilage within 10 minutes if you bathe in it.

If you're heading to this place on a hot summer day, please be smart and wear short pants. It's gonna be warm and humunbdPhotos are obviously mandatory.

If you're looking for a decent meal, head down to the famous hot-spring ramen stall (满来温泉拉面, as pictured below) just a stone throw away from Xinbeitou (新北投) Station. They sell pretty impressive ramen dishes, which are good for sharing if you're a small eater. The restaurant holds only about 20 persons, hence prior booking might be wise if you're planning to dine there during peak hours.

A good hot bowl of ramen makes a good meal after an hour of soaking in their famed hot springs.