Relaxing around Taipei

Hot springs, streams, oceans are all dreamy water escapes. Afterwards mouth watering foods makes for a days of complete relaxation. What day did you say it was?

Yehlin's Geo 101

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by nmagann on November 2, 2012

Layers of rock near the seashore evolved into a surreal moonscape found with Yehlin Geopark. Limestone by the direction and force of both the wind and sea left unique landscapes. Pools of water dried to leave a high salinity content accelerating the process. Sections of the park looked like a carefully planned garden with like items planted together.

An orchard of larger than life mushrooms standing over six feet high cluster beside one another. Similar to moral mushrooms, stems were thick and pale in color with billowing tops of darken brown and filled with holes.

Nearby, candle rocks rose from the surface having had a wick in the center. Previously lit and blown out, perhaps by the violent winds, tops were left melted. The impression around the wick, not unlike a mote, was dry around some and filled with water around others.

In between these displays was the most famous formation in the park, Queen's Head. Unlike so many other shapes and landscapes that have been given names, this one was accurate. To embellish on that, Nefertiti's Head might have been even more fitting. It was interesting to see people forming a line to pose next to the sculpture without any other tourists in order to have a photo taken. Given that it is continuing eroding and a cast made of it and placed elsewhere in the park, time might be running out to see the original one.

Yet another type of formation, Ginger Rocks, have neither the sharp edges of the mushroom rocks nor the distinctive rise of the candle rocks. Instead, Ginger Rocks are more like the delicate, honeycomb candy. Light and airy full of holes, they look very delicate. Finely carved sandstone, it seems as if one gust of wind would turn the area into sand.

Not to be missed interspersed along the ground were circular orange patches. Closer inspection revealed fossils of sand dollars, sea stars and other marine creatures. Without markers or fenced off, these items may well be gone in short time.

Lastly, near the waters edge, visible in differing degrees according to the tides, were the Tofu Rocks. Said to look like squares of tofu having been cooked just long enough for a crispy golden crust. Enjoy!

The same forces that created such incredible formations and landscapes will also be their demise. Strange how nature works.
Yehliu Geopark
Town of Wanli on the North Coast
Yehliu Cape, Taiwan

Fabulous finds without being weird

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by nmagann on November 15, 2012

Located on the lower level of the Caesar Hotel, this little gem was quite a surprise. Looking at the menu not the name of the restaurant, prompted dining there. This is not where you will find typical rice and noodle entrees with a variety of vegetables. Not quite knowing what all the items were, made for delicious surprise items. A fan of both tuna and eggs, I ordered something called a tuna bun with egg and sambal. What I received was more like a soft sesame bun with a creamy white cheese, tomato and lettuce inside and an unidentifiable dipping sauce no doubt sambal. The cheese had a wonderful flavor like aged cheddar, yet the texture was more like brie. The sauce subtle and flavorful. While I knew it wasn’t sweet and sour, I couldn’t identify anything specific. It was delicious though.

I like what I had before so well I returned another day and order the same item along with another item. The Kazal cheese toast was also delicious and again something I didn’t know what it was. It was some kind of bread with the crust cut off. The cheese inside was like a very creamy ricotta and was lightly green in color, perhaps from a blend that included pistachio, cilantro or pesto.

If you like to try unusual food without it being some kind of weird animal part, this is the place. As a side note, the atmosphere is relaxed enough that you linger, but it is elegant enough that the reasonable prices came as a surprise.
Pappa Richie Asia Café & Restaurant
Caesar Park Hotel Mall
Taipei, Taiwan

Stay is Easy at EZ Stay

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by nmagann on November 15, 2012

EZ Stay hostel's location was definitely the best and Kenzo's easy going attitude was icing on the cake. To begin with, the hostel is literally across the street from Taipei Main Station which houses not only the high speed rail (HSR) and the regular train (TRA), but also serves as the transfer point for the various MRT lines. The helpful staff at the information center that is open until 8pm can look up the schedules for you as well as provide other services. On the same side of the street as the hostel, directly in front of the entrance is M6, one of the MRT station's entrance. If you are coming from the domestic airport, this is very convenient.

If you are coming from the international airport, the bus stations are next to Taipei Main Station. This includes both the East and West Bus Stations. The airport shuttle bus is housed here as well.

The hostel's office is located on the 15 floor just around the corner from the elevators. The office is open 24 hours where there are computers, a television and the makings for tea and coffee. A nearby bin provides sheets and towels available at any time.

A variety of rooms and dorms are available. Accommodations from mixed dorms with 8 beds to rooms with 2 beds are offered with ensuite bathrooms to shared ones. Plenty of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and body cleansers line the edge of the bathtubs. Rates for beds in a dorm can be had for as low as 800 NT going even lower for multi night stays.

Another convenience are the food courts on the bottom levels of towering buildings on either side. Plus all three skyscrappers offer shopping from specialty foods and wines to clothers and souvenirs.

Check in is available at all hours and Kenzo is willing to store bags for those requiring late check out times.
EZ Stay Taipei Hostel
15F-1, No.50, Zhongxiao W. Road
Taipei, Taiwan

Geothermals, Museums and More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by nmagann on November 4, 2012

After taking the MRT to Beitou a secondary line was erected strictly for the purpose of going to Xinbeitou, where the hot springs are located. Saving the spa for last is a good idea for several reasons. Many people, particularly locals go strictly for the springs so they are more crowded at opening. In the middle of the day the spring is closed for an hour for cleaning and many people choose to leave.

Instead, wondering around Xinbeitou offers several worthwhile sites including the geothermal lake at the end of the trail which is nicely marked with signs in English. Not that the town contains more than a couple of streets anyway. The distance from the station to the geothermal lakes takes less than 20 minutes and parallels the hot springs stream that begins at the lake. Several areas along the way are popular with the locals content with soaking merely their feet and costing nothing.

The lake itself is far too hot to enter as evidenced by the continuous rising of steam. As the little gusts of wind push away the steam, the pale turquoise lake is revealed with clarity indicating how shallow it is along the edges. A wooden boardwalk around half of the lake offers a platform and informative plaques as well as a the best photography spot to include lush foliage and no tourists. The green sulfur found here is unique, found only here and in Akita, Japan.

From the lake, heading toward the springs is the free Katagalan Culture Museum of indigenous aboriginals. Only floors one through three are open to individuals, but worth the visit. A surprising number of tribes exist in Taiwan and are represent here with artifacts from baskets and water jugs to weapons a jewelry. Along side each is a short video performance of their cultural dances and rituals. On the adjoining wall, manikins dressed in traditional male and female are exhibited with plenty of details from elaborate head wear to foot wear.

Heading towards the hot springs is Plum Garden a well-preserved historical site requiring shoes to be removed before entering with slippers provided. The thick wooden floors gleam as new. An old piano appears to be completely untouched. But the crowing glory, the calligraphy, displayed on walls and tables in the form of scrolls, fans and pictures was amazing. The house and its works are a tribute to its former resident, a famous calligrapher whose art Taiwan is not only attempting to preserve, but revitalize. This should be an incentive.
Beitou District/Peitou
Northernmost District
Taipei City, Taiwan

Good-by Tension!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by nmagann on November 4, 2012

The day ended with a few hours spent at the springs. Although it was very crowded, the rules helped. Not only were there signs indicating not to soak just one's feet but the entire body, there was security/lifeguard person that enforced it. There was no getting in, walking around and waiting until your legs were accustomed to the heat before sitting down. Attention was directed to the ladle outside the edge of the pool to be utilized for that purpose. Pouring ladles of hot water down the body was the only option for acclimating the body to the heat it was going to be subjected. This did keep people from dangling their just legs in the pools and talking endlessly with a friend. The entire body can't last that long. Incidentally, the rule was to shower and scrub before entering the pools. But the water was very cold!

A choice of three hot pools getting progressively hotter with the coolest at 40-43 degrees was available. Again signs indicated maximum dips of 15 minutes at one time with suggested breaks of 30 minutes. No doubt a safety measure, enforced by the man who seemed to have very good facial recognition skills and used them to remind people they should take a break.

Two cold pools for the brave or smooth-skin seeking patrons. A regular informed that the hot pools were for the heart and cardiovascular system and sitting completely still was the best approach to lasting 15 minutes. Afterwards the cold pool should be used as it is good for the skin. As I touched the pool with my hand and shivered another regular told me I just need to do it all at once and get it over with. This from someone who had been going in and out of all the pools like there was no difference and seemed to be known by many people indicating an expert.

Why endure such extremes? Because feeling relaxed remains while tension is left behind.
Beitou Hot Springs

Taipei, Taiwan

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