This post has been a long time coming, and I regret procrastinating, but alas, such is my nature. So, let’s get on with the show, yeh? This post is about a trip I took with a group of friends to the hot springs town of Guanziling in Tainan County.
It started off well enough, with a departure from Kaohsiung city with an entourage of 9 scooters and motorcycles. We had a “system” so that no one would get lost: everyone watches someone behind them to make sure they stayed with the group. Yeah, it didn’t work. After the first bridge, we lost half the group and didn’t realize until a few lights down. If there’s one conclusion to be drawn here, it should be: THIS AIN’T A GOOD SYSTEM.
Anyway, the drive was 2 hours long, and not very scenic. There are plenty other routes to other hot springs towns that are far more beautiful. It did, however, showcase all that rural Taiwan had to offer, the best of which is definitely the betel nut girls. I’ve lived in Taiwan for 2 years now, and never had I seen such scantily clad girls on a public thoroughway (thank you, Tainan County?). I was delighted, amused, and in a way, sickened by the near-prostitution of it. Still, girls wearing lingerie! Wearing less than what I wear to the beach! By the road! The ROAD! Incredulity probably beat out my other emotions.
Alas, I wasn’t able to snap a photo of them. My apologies.
We got to a little village before Guanziling. I forget what it was called, but it ended in “pu”, if that helps you any, or just merely amuses you, I’m glad either way. The road was lined with little restaurants, all selling the same thing: chicken, roasted in big industrial-looking tin ovens. It was past 2 pm by then, and I was starving, so I made the executive decision to singlehandedly pull everyone over and order us some nourishment.
Definitely a meal to remember. Wild portobello mushrooms, 2 roasted chickens, chicken soup, kung pao chicken, fresh mountain veggies, and so much more. By the time we finished eating, the sun was beginning to set, and we were getting a bit chilly in the mountain air. We kept on.
Guanziling is small. Very. Very. Small. There’re 2 convenience stores, a few restaurants, and lots and lots of hot spring resorts. For someone who’s been to this kind of thing before, the novelty wears off quickly. There’s hiking, soaking in the hot spring tubs, and eating. Yep. It’s good.
That night, we broke out the board game. I’m going to have to confess now that I’ve also forgotten the name of it, so forgive me if I get this wrong… Catan? Settlers of Catan? Something like that. It was my first time playing and I became a “Defender of Catan” which made me very proud. I still lost, of course, but c’mon, getting awarded “Defender of Catan” is nothing to shake a lamb’s tail at. Or is it rabbit’s tail. Whatever, you know what I mean.
So, the next morning was a slow one for my fellow travelers. I set out alone and hiked for a bit. Usually hot spring towns pipe in the water from a natural source not too far away. If you take the hike out to the source, you’re likely to be rewarded with a little hut, a place to soak your feet, and some eggs hard-boiled in the hot spring. I knew there had to be a place like this (because every other hot spring town I’ve been in has had one), but I just couldn’t take the hike out. I saw a group coming back, so I knew there was somewhere to reach, but it’d already been an hour, and I was losing hope. I set back for town.
By the time I got back, everyone was up and ready to search for food. The resort we stayed at had a pretty typical Taiwanese breakfast, and nothing that would satisfy a hung-over crowd of 10 foreigners. We set out again.
This time, the town was bustling. We had deep-fried Portobello mushrooms given to us by some nice Taiwanese passersby (really!), coffee that had been harvested on a nearby mountain, and then… yes, you were waiting for it… ANOTHER ROASTED CHICKEN. Five chickens in two days, you gasp in surprise? Welcome to my world, the world of gluttony, procrastination, and surf.
After sucking the chicken carcass dry of anything edible (OK, only I, the savage Canadian-Taiwanese will-eat-anything fat pig did that. Everyone else ate demurely), we decided to drive out to see the water-fire mix. It turns out, there’s methane dissolved in the hot springs water, and when it breaks the surface of the earth, the methane releases into the air. If ignited, this fire is said to last forever (my boyfriend later told me that after a typhoon, they had to reignite it. Heehee). We got some cool pictures of that, looked at the giant wooden penises (shouldn’t the plural of penises be peni?), glanced at the watch, yelled “OH SHIT” and were on our way home.
The road home was easy, and fast. I made it back in Taipei to have dinner with the boyfriend, and went at a decent hour.
Back to the grind.