After a winding but scenic drive, we checked into a gorgeous Japanese style Onsen (hot spring hotel), in Wulai, followed by a walk through a tiny old town street, to sit along side a steaming river valley, perched on a granite rock eating corn on the cob, and chopped guava on a skewer, while a misty warm rain fell around us. It was nice to enjoy a moment like that toremin d us of why we love to travel.
As you can probably guess from my last paragraph, we made it out of Taipei without a hitch. In fact, it was almost too smooth. Our rental car guy showed up early and spent the next 20 minutes going over paperwork, trying to communicate in broken english and using the hotel front desk clerk as a buffer, and showing us the ins and outs of the car and GPS system. It actually does have an english language preference, but only until you try to put in the city or place you want to go. It’s in Mandarin. But, you can enter a phone number, then remember what the characters were that go along with the number to ensure you’re mapping the correct location. Should be interesting. Not only that, the GPS lady (who’s voice is terrible) just tells you to “turn right onto….(silence)” as we assume she doesn’t speak Mandarin either. So, you know a turn is coming, and the arrows point that way, so good enough for us. We had our paper map as backup, and made it all the way to Wulai in about 40 minutes.
Enroute we stopped for gas, not knowing which side the tank was on. The whole gas station crew thought it was a hoot, and the attendant didn’t know a single word of english, so it was point and gesture time. We were also offered “a power booster” as a young guy came to the window to produce the offer, as he held the black bottle of mystery substance like an info-mercial. No thanks, we’re actually going to travel relatively slowly in our rental wheels.
In Japan, we never actually stayed at one of their Onsen style hotels, and when we searched online and found this one in Wulai, we were keen. Our room is Japanese style with its own little tub that you can fill up with natural hot spring water, as the hotel sits right on the river from which it comes from. The hotel stacks up the side of the bank, with beautiful views of the deep blue water, and with relaxing music playing throughout the property, and inside fragrant essential oils mist through the halls. Put on your slippers, and housecoat and trapse down to the naturally heated pool, or for tea in the fresh open air. Love it. We’re so relaxed today, our throats are starting to get sore. Uh oh.
Then came our 8 course dinner. Included. Seriously. It went like this…Garlic bread. Crab leg bits. Shrimp soup. Duck chest salad. Sorbet. Entire fishy with lime slice (we chuckled, tried not to smell it, and sent it back without touching it). Shrimpies with mushy rice. Little chicken breasts with tiny veg. And, Tiramiso with tea. So, by that time we were full depite the fish pass.
Then….. back to the room, which was set up while we were at dinner, with bed canopy curtains drawn closed, a fresh red rose, some relaxing spa music, candles, bath robes and fuzzy slippers and cookies for later…and of course, a stone tub waiting to be filled with hot spring water. So, jet lag or not, we enjoyed the experience of our first pampered spa night. The only thing missing here was a nice Thai massage to get out those plane kinks.