Taiwan Tales 9 – Lyudao (Hot Springs!)

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my Taiwan journals… recap here!

Day 9! We sleep perhaps for about 3 hours before dragging ourselves out of bed at an ungodly 3am to prepare for the Hot Springs! Well I know the sun doesn’t rise so early, so I can’t recall why on earth we decided to go there so early, but we did, and it was a good thing too! More on that later…

It was a pretty scary drive there – the road was pitch dark and there are no barriers on the sides of the roads. One wrong turn and it’s into the sea! *sweatdrop*

Still, we reach the ZhaoRi ???? (or Jhaorih, or something similar sounding) hot springs – they’re open 24 hours and there was hardly a soul around and it was pretty dark when we first arrived. The ZhaoRi hot springs are remarkable as they are one of only 3 saltwater hot springs in the world; the other 2 are in Japan and Italy. It’s also located right next to the shoreline, so you get the crashing sound of waves while you soak!

Zhao Ri Hot Springs

There are 3 outdoor manmade pools – Cool, Hot and Pretty Damn Hot. Hot was Just Nice, and there was where we settled, with great spots facing out to the ocean. Good thing too, because later on as the sky got a little lighter, a coach or two came, unloading a bunch of loud Chinese tourists into the pools with us, boo. There goes the neighbourhood – we were just starting to soak up the peace!

The girls having a soak. My hands are weird because I was trying to keep them dry to handle the camera!

I pop in and out of the pool to snap pictures of the sun as it rose. It was VERY nice. (Other than the rowdy tourists in the pool with us)

Sunrises are kind of amazing, in that you never do take notice of the sun’s movement across the sky, but especially since I was taking a lot of pictures, it’s just amazing to think that all this is happening because it’s actually the earth rotating. (I’m easily impressed, I know)

Most of the tourists disperse once the sun was high in the sky, but a quick time check showed that it was only about 6am! We headed over to a corner of the hot springs where there was a stone trough and the boiling hot spring water was pumped up into it. We had bought some eggs the previous day to cook, as advised by our hostel owners, but we had totally forgot about utensils! Luckily, we scrounge up some nettings in the area around left by other Hot Spring Cooks which we used to lower the eggs into the trough.

Cooking the egg via netting dipped in boiling hot spring water
A hot spring cooked egg
Yum yum!

Hot Spring eggs are different from normal hardboiled eggs, because the salt water doesn’t exactly reach 100 degrees when it boils, so the resulting egg is a lot more springy than a normal hardboiled egg like the sort you get with Japanese Ramen, absolutely FAB. We saw prawn shells around the area, and apparently veggies are also popular for hot spring cooking!

Blending in with the locals, Hai Chee-su!

We ran into a group of cute Taiwanese girls, the ONLY other people in that hot spring who were even close to our age – they were on their grad trip too! We shared an egg or two with them, they were really sweet.

It was quite a lot brighter now, and you can see that beyond the hot spring pools, there are these natural inlet bays where the hot spring water mixes with the cool sea water, resulting in the perfect temperature water to swim in because you didn’t get too cold or too hot. I could hang out in these pools forever! Some even had little fish which got swept it in with the water…

Cooler pools which are heaven to soak in

Jhaorih Hot Springs remains my favourite all-time hot spring, and I do hope to revisit it again one day!

We left the Hot Springs at about 7am+ – the sun was high in the sky and it felt like afternoon already somehow! We drove around looking for the elusive historical prison that we missed yesterday, and turns out we’d driven past it several times but never realized what it was. doh! It only opened at 8am though, and that was too late for K and J who were heading back to Singapore. K would be back again, though that was it for J…

They were headed back by plane though – no more terrible ferry rides for K, who had been immensely sickened by the trip over! There are 3 Taitung-Lyudao flights every day, and it’s only a 5-10 minute hop by plane, as compared to the half hour (or longer, depending on the current) ride by ferry.

We head back to wash up while the 2 of them packed, and though the airport was right next to our hostel, we drove the 100m over to the smallest airport I’ve ever seen in my life. You still had to do the usual stuff like check-in, and check-your luggage through and get stamped through customs, just that all that was happening in this same, tiny area. The flight was super delayed, only leaving close to 10am, and C, P and me stood by the fence and waved madly as this tiny little propeller plane took off with our friends.

K tells us later that the plane sits just 12 people, and before you even realize it, you’re back in Taitung airport already!

So it was down to the 3 of us – K had been master planner of the trip, and she and J were far better in Chinese than the rest of us so it would be an interesting few days before K came back to meet us in Kenting. We headed back to the hostel to settle our next days plans when we left Lyudao, and our awesome hostel owner Xiao Lan Jie helped us immensely, arranging accommodation and pick up from the ferry to Taitung at a tea plantation! We were pretty lucky coming to stay here…

We grab some lunch – Lyudao’s famed deer meat with some noodles – before exploring the island. We’d seen more of the island already, but had yet to explore the west side. Also, so far we ‘d always been travelling in the clockwise direction, so this time we decided to drive the other way. Ooh, how exciting~

Looking out over Da Bai Sha

First stop was Da Bai Sha ???, or Great White Sand if you translate it directly. It might look like a normal sand beach, but what makes this beach special is that most of the beaches on Lyudao are rocky ones.

Lyudao hot springs!
The view from above… spectacular! We were in the pools on the far right
The Hot Spring Pools where we were earlier that morning

We pass by the Hot Springs again and stop there, heading up to a lookout point we had spotted earlier which overlooked the hot springs. Great view from up there – it’s a climb up a flight of wooden stairs, and bam you’re suddenly on this grassy and super windy knoll. It was apparently some sort of battle look out point before, as there was a shelter there. It’s called Fan Chuan Bi ???, and is a headland that offers a fantastic ocean view. We lolled around the area just chilling out for awhile.

Climbing up to Fan Chuan Bi
Lolling on the grass

After that we head back to the Sleeping Beauty/Pekinese Rock lookout point, where we break out the noodles for a good lunch while soaking in the view. I brought along my book for a sketch (scroll right down to the bottom to see!)

Enjoying noodles!

It was a little less sunny today, so the waters were a little less blue, but no less beautiful!

We headed back towards where the Historical Prison would now be open, and discover a tiny, steep little road that headed down into a little valley called You Zi Hu ???, which was a preservation of the first village settlement on Lyudao! Amazing~ We walk around a little, and are very glad we didn’t run into anyone else when we left, because that road was only wide enough for one car!

This way to You Zi Hu
Peering into the remains of this old village

Finally, we end up back at the Historical Prison which was now open. It’s now a Human Rights Memorial, and is one of the singularly most depressing places ever. I wonder if it’s just how it’s built, or that the walls just soak up all the despair of prisoner’s now gone, because just walking into that building was a serious dampener. It’s rows and rows of now empty cells and lists of political prisoners who must have spent a long time there – I was pretty happy to leave!

A memorial to the fallen
Inside the prison

We drove back to the hostel, on the way discovering an elusive shop we had ‘lost’, but even after we finally went in, we didn’t buy anything from there! We couldn’t figure out where to return the car to, so awesome Xiao Lan Jie offers to do it for us. It’s a quick dinner in the village and an early night after a very, very long day. We would finally leave Lyudao the next day, sadness!

Day 9 – Lyudao (i)
Taiwan Day 9 – Lyudao (ii)
Taiwan Day 9 – Lyudao (iii)
Taiwan Day 9 – Lyudao (iv)
Taiwan Day 9 – Lyudao (v)
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