16.12.16 Taipei – Beitou & Xiangshan

Taipei is such a fabulous city that today we plan to bathe in thermal springs and see the sunset from a mountain.

We MRT to Beitou, then catch a spur line to Xinbeitou and as we leave the carriage the smell of sulphur assaults our nostrils. On the way to the thermal pool we visit an aboriginal cultural centre which is very informative. There are examples of different indigenous costumes, historical artefacts and artworks with explanations in English.

We continue up to the pool, which is just some warm water with steam coming off, but is, for some reason, entrancing. The colour is beautiful and people armed with selfie sticks snap away. There is a man beating a drum and chanting which adds to the atmosphere.

We then head to a thermal spa where its cheaper to hire a private room for an hour than pay for two people to have unlimited time. We opt for a room which also has a cold pool and having experienced onsens in Japan, we know the drill. Strip, shower and dive in. We are thankful for the cold pool. We relax and before you can say ‘it ain’t half hot mum’ the phone rings and our hour is over. We emerge red faced and sweating.

After some ordinary noodles we travel the red MRT line to its eastern terminus at Xiangshan. There are English signs for elephant mountain which we follow and begin climbing the stone steps to the summit. Its the second time today we are red faced and sweating. Near the top we come across loads of teenagers photographing each other on top of a boulder. We carry on upwards until we find a quiet viewing spot. Weary legs are rested and we watch the sky turn orange and the sun fade to red. In front of us Taipei looks wonderful. Initially misty in the orange glow, as dusk settles it slowly lights up, until a modern metropolis sparkles. We’re hypnotized by the artificial beauty and I think of the cityscapes in the movie Blade Runner.

Liaoning night market provides us with the dumplings we crave and the layout is a bit different to Shilin and Raohe night markets where small stalls provide food. Here its restaurants.

We spend the evening writing Xmas postcards to everyone in blighty. They’re on their way folks!

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