Recapping my grad trip to Taiwan has been a pretty fun experience. So far we had spent some time in Taipei, and then down to Hualien, and now we were moving south to our next stop, a very rural town in southern Hualien County called Ruisui where we had a rather unfortunate attempt at rafting in the absolute wrong season.
We woke up super early in the morning to catch out train here, and we had to spend our time looking for accommodation because we hadn’t been able to find anything online before arriving. Just around the corner from the train station, we chanced upon Yang He Guest House – the owner actually ran a betel nut factory below and a guest house on top, and it was one of the nicer places we stayed all trip long. We shared a single room with damn comfy mattresses on the floor and an attached toilet, including toiletries. It was pretty nice by budget standard, and the owner organized all our activities for us.
Ruisui is famous for whitewater rafting in the Xiuguluan River, largest river on the Eastern coast of Taiwan with the peak season in August. Unfortunately, if you remember how low the waters looked in Taroko Gorge, this was just the absolute wrong season to be white water rafting in, so instead of paddling on the rapids, we had such low and placid waters that we had to get pulled along by a speedboat half the time. Also, our group of 5 was put with another group of 4 that consisted a couple, young girl and a granny, so you can imagine how many people were actually paddling properly.
Also, we Singaporeans had no idea what to wear for rafting. The ideal outfit is actually long sleeved shirt and pants with covered/water shoes to protect your feet, meanwhile we were all in singlets, shorts and flipflops which we had to tie to our feet with raffia string.
The best part of this whole experience was seeing the red Changhong Bridge and the end and sinking our teeth into a great biandang aka lunchbox.
After a quick shower, a little van whisked us off to a hot spring place which was in quite a rural area, complete with the smell of manure and plants was in the air. The water here was carbonated, as opposed to being sulphuric like the other hot springs, so it didn’t smell so much like rotten eggs.
The outdoor pool looked really dingy so we opted for the private indoor cubicles.Each room had a small stone bath, I had to cross my legs to fit. You had taps to adjust the temperature to your liking – a carbonated hot spring tap and a cool water tap. I then realised I was a tad sunburnt from the rafting so the hot water was stinging my skin even though it made my muscles feel so good.
After the hot spring soak, we head back to the guesthouse for a proper bath and grabbed a bite on Ruisui’s one main street before calling it a night.