Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hot Springs in Taiwan

Just a note for travellers. Hot springs are a wonderful gift from mother nature. However, in order to soak in them we (i.e. people) sometimes need to tweak them - - - we want water that is not too deep, too hot, too narrow etc.

When I went to Taiwan's Taroko gorge there was a hot spring next to a river called Wenshan Hot Springs. The Taiwanese brilliantly made 3 pools for the water.

The hot water was captured in the first pool at full temperature. The pool was big enough for at least a dozen people and outfitted with a ledge to sit on so you could be immersed just up to your neck. Then a portion of the water flowed into another, bigger pool. It could hold about 40 people comfortably. The pool was shallow enough that you could sit in any part of it and be comfortably immersed. The brilliant part is that they mixed this water with some of the cold river water so that the temperature was "just right".

The third pool was again mixed for a more tepid temperature which appealed to people who preferred that. All three pools were situated on the river's edge - overlooking the torrent and some of the most amazing canyons and tropical vegitation I have ever seen and the blue skies and sun of Taiwan (OK the picture proves I didn't see blue skies and sun that day). They were sheltered just a bit by the cliff that had been cut by the river but basically open to the world. A delightful experience.

The hot springs on the north side of the island are a different experience. My friend Andrew tipped us off that the public ones tend to have some contamination (bodily fluids) and that the clean ones are almost all indoors. They are private affairs. Virtually all of them are piped into hot-tubs in confined, individual hotel-sized rooms for privacy. Even the one we saw that was open to the outside was a pool on a hotel rooftop. As such they are also done sans-stiches, aka clothing-non-grata, aka (ironically) au natural.

Thanks Andrew for saving us from ourselves!

I am wondering in retrospect whether the Taroko springs were also contaminated. If so I'd like to put in a retroactive "ick".

Update: Apparently the Wenshan hot springs are now closed. Their position under the cliff allowed for a rockslide that left at least one bather dead and others injured.


Andrew Chen said...

John, the Taroko hot spring pools had been closed forever since 4 yrs. ago due there was a huge rock dropped down and caused a few persons dead. The Hualien Gov. Thinks that place is very dangerous with some big scale of earthquake. That's why I said the wild hot spring area in TWN is not available easily in these couple yrs!


xxxxsharpie said...

From what I've read, the hot springs have re-opened, but what I really want to know is how to get to said hot springs. I understand there's a wenshan trail, but is that the trail taken to get to the hot spring with the same name?