Care for a dip? History of the Beitou hot springs…

It had been raining on and off all week and we had hoped that, on Saturday, the rain would hold back so we could visit Danshui.  Even though I had already visited this area once before, Steve had yet to check it out.  The clouds didn’t look too friendly, but we decided it would be better to be outside than inside.  Heading to Danshui is quite easy, although it was quite far from where we live (Ximen), it was about an hour or so on the MRT (red line) and was also the very last stop.  On the way there, Steve had suggested we stop in Xinbeitou since neither of us had visited there.  We got off at Beitou station and switched trains and were on our way.

The train to Xinbeitou is specifically themed to the hot springs, with fake wood  paneling inside and a mini gallery. There is the one train that goes back and forth between Xinbeitou and Beitou station, so the wait was about 5 – 7 minutes.  Not too long! (^_^)  Once we got off, if you check the yellow information maps at the station, it will direct you to all of the different attractions and places to visit, which was super helpful for us.  We decided to head down to the Taipei public library and to the Beitou hot spring museum.

It was about a 7 – 10 minute walk, very close, and we encountered the Taipei public library first after walking through the park.  There were many people sitting on the long balconies on both levels who were either reading or just hanging over the edge and watching people walk by. The eco-friendly building was built with energy conservation in mind.  It utilizes the sun in so many ways, from insulation to natural lighting. The library itself blends right in with the surrounding greenery with the usage of beautiful woods stretching from floor to ceiling, inside and out.  Normally I would never think to visit a library, but it was definitely worth a look.

Right by the library, walking up some stone steps, sat the Beitou Hot Spring Museum.  I learned on my visit that the bath house will be celebrating 400 years since it was first built.  It was built in 1913 by the Japanese government, and the architecture has a fusion of both Japanese and Victorian influences.  The admission is free, just remember to take your shoes off before the entrance and grab a pair of slippers in the cubby area!  When returning our slippers Steve forgot and started putting his shoes on inside… (@_@);;;  The upper floor is all hard wood floors and although there were numerous windows, it was still quite hot and stuffy with them all open.  The main area of the upper floor was a traditional Japanese styled room with tatami mats and sliding wooden doors.  Balconies wrapped around the back of the house and opened up to lush greenery and, of course, a view of the library in the distance.

Walking down the wooden staircases the lower floor was where the bathing areas were.  The baths, long ago drained of the spring waters, now sit vacant with information of the history of owners changed and information of the hot springs themselves.  The main bath was dimly lit and surrounded by columns giving a Romanesque feel.  Colours reflected off of the columns and tiles from the stained glass windows along the outside walls.   As management had changed, so had the colours of the rooms, as hidden reminiscences of the original mint green paint seeped through the cracks in the walls.  The Beitou bath house was once a location thriving of visitors, locals and also a popular setting for movies.  After becoming abandoned, it was brought back to life by the community and re-opened as a historical museum in 1997.  It is a beautiful part of history, and I am really glad that we had the opportunity to visit.

Did we end up actually going to the hot springs though?  Unfortunately not… We didn’t expect to head to Beitou until the last minute, so I never brought a bathing suit.  There are numerous hot springs in the area so when the weather is better, we’ll defnitely be back!  Although we have hot springs in B.C., I really doubt that the experience will be the same!

 

 

For more information:
Beitou
Taipei public library
Beitou Hot Spring Museum.

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