Two main challenges today: 1.) Travel from Hualien to Taipei area; 2.) Chose between improving myself through cultural study or indulging myself in hot spring soakage. In the continued spirit of self-indulgence that has flavored this trip, I opted for the second option. The hot springs are piped into the hotel. Let me repeat: the hot springs are piped into the hotel. So you turn on the tap to the big ol’bath tub and you get hot spring water. Without having to leave your room. Sorry, but history and art just cannot compete with that kind of luxury.

Speaking of, before leaving, indulged in a lovely moment at a tea house on Claire’s recommendation.


Windows lining the wall, an atrium with a koi pond, sweet pastries and a giant almond iced milk tea provided an atmosphere perfect for reflecting how wonderful this trip has been, how kind people have been to me, what an amazing opportunity I’ve had to explore unencumbered.

The trip to Taipei took several hours by train and to reach Xinbeitou, I had to transfer to MRT and again. Fortunately, navigating them unfolded smoothly. All this time on trains and buses continues to evoke movie nostalgia. So many films in which the protagonist journeys from point A to B on the train, on the bus — I am living life imitating art imitating life.

Things different in Taiwan:

  • Chopsticks and spoons instead of knife, fork and spoon.
  • Way different and incredibly tasty fruit options.
  • Shower curtains/doors not the norm; the shower is simply there next to the toilet and the floor angled so the whole room drains out. Everything gets wet, but dries quickly.
  • Scooters rule.
  • Tour buses dominate.
  • Night markets. Like farmers’ markets on acid.
  • Dogs just kinda roam around, at least in the country. In Hualien and Xinbeitou, the canines clearly led a more pampered life, all groomed, carried and otherwise showing signs of adoration.
  • Not a lot of cats.
  • Storefronts tend to be open. Think roll-up garage doors, not the front doors on hinges.

Arrived Xinbeitou. Clearly an upscale tourist town. Lots of greenspace and, unlike everywhere else I’ve been, sidewalks.

I am happy to be here!

Found the hotel, where for only about $70US, I had a spacious room complete with a jacuzzi-sized tub into which the famous hot springs water flowed. Breakfast also included.

Settled in, soaked, showered, wandered back down the road to find food. Passed McDonald’s and Starbucks, ended up finding some rice and veggies down the road. The steamed greens continue to please me as does the weather. I could live in 70 degrees forever.

Back at the hotel, I discovered wifi wasn’t available in the rooms, just in the lobby, so I opted to read. Fell asleep with 100 pages of The Savage Detectives to go. Really struggling to stay engaged. I can tell it’s a good, important book, but I find myself losing patience with the author. (His talents are clearly superior to mine, in a whole nother realm, in fact, so I shoulder all the blame for my waning interest.)

Travel, soak, eat, read, sleep; this is a lifestyle to which I immediately become accustomed.