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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 17: The Hotspring Town of Jiaoxi

Day 17: Jiaoxi - 12.4.2015

Breakfast at the Maple Leaves City Suites Hotel in Jiaoxi, Taiwan was quite busy. There were many Chinese tourists and we barely got a table in the huge breakfast area. They had a breakfast buffet and there were many things to choose from, including hot meals.

From the hotel we walked to the Jiaoxi Train Station. From there the "Jiaoxi Route" of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle departs. The Tourist Shuttle is a rather cheap bus, that goes to the main tourist attractions in and around Jiaoxi with frequent departures every day. We exited the bus at the Wufengqi Scenic Area bus stop and walked from the parking lot, which has restrooms and some seats, to a water reservoir, from where the trail to a waterfall started. The Wufengqi Falls are actually three waterfalls, all connected by a hiking trail.

The trail to the Wufengqi Falls led upwards through the forest and the first fall was the smallest, the second already larger and the last fall was the highlight, the biggest one. It was a hot day and as we walked higher we really sweated a lot. But it was a nice hiking path through nature and the waterfalls kept getting more impressive - a quite rewarding walk and also signposted.

We walked back down to the bus stop at the parking lot and entered the next Tourist Shuttle bus, as we wanted to continue with the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle to another hike, the Linmei Shipan Trail. Unfortunately we took the bus in the wrong direction. But we just exited at another stop and then switched busses. It was a Sunday and the busses were very frequent and not too crowded. Soon we arrived at the Linmei Shipan Trail bus stop and walked from there on the Linwei Road to the trail entrance, where we bought fresh Pineapple as a snack. First the trail led along a golf course and a lake, before restrooms and the main trail entrance appeared.

The hike was a roundtrip, that led through the rainforest. It wasn´t crowded, so it was a rather peaceful experience. When I first thought of Taiwan, I thought of industry and busy cities. It was great to see, that Taiwan has so much more to offer - including rainforest hikes. The hiking path was easy to walk and also led along some abysses, rivers and also a steep stairway, which just made it more interesting - I really recommend it!

When we came back to the entrance, we were a bit exhausted by the heat and the walk. So we again bought some fruits. There were like three vendors and it was funny, as one saleslady was really talkative (speaking Chinese, which we don´t understand), offering us free samples of fresh fruits. She was so good, that we actually bought a kilo of fresh Mangos. The other saleslady next to her was always jokingly protesting, obviously insisting, that she has much better fruits. When more tourist appeared, they were really campaigning for their fruits.  

Back at the bus stop we entered the next Tourist Shuttle Bus and it was the wrong direction. But that was o.k., as the bus was already close to its last stop and, upon reaching it, returned towards the Jiaoxi Train Station. We weren´t finished yet and exited the bus at the Linmei Visitor Center Bus Stop and walked from there to a curiosity, the Kumquat Culture Museum. This must be the first I've heard about such museum dedicated to Kumquats, so it was a must see for us! At first we were the only guests and the exhibition seemed to be a bit aged (and also in Chinese only). But we were compensated by free and delicious Kumquat Tea and also bought quite some souvenirs of the Kumquat variety, like dried Kumquats, Kumquat cookies and candy!

Back at the Bus Station we took the next bus to the Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Bus Stop and sat down in the Hot Spring Park next to a hot foot bath to allow ourselves some snacks of waffles with honey and coffee. 

Then we followed the signs to the bath and walked a few steps past a public bath further to the Forest Baths, which are located in the north of the Hot Springs Park. It was great, as the bath had several pools outside with different temperatures and also a sauna - very relaxing. You go there in the nude and it has gender separated areas. That was something, we already experienced a lot on our trip to Japan the year before.

Finally, we walked back from the Hot Springs Park to the Train Station to buy a ticket for our day trip to Hualien the next day and then came along a temple and a pizza hut, before we went back to the hotel, where we later went to the rooftop Hot Spring.

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