Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Eternal Spring to Hot Springs

Pipkin and Domo made their way north from the Eternal Spring Shrine towards Jiaoxi Township where they were to spend the night at a swanky hotel in hot spring country. Unfortunately, they missed their train by only a few minutes and had to sit around at the station for the next train, losing daylight and time booked at the spa.

By the time they arrived at the hotel, it was well after dark and in a short time the public hot springs at the hotel would be closed. At any rate, there are traditional Japanese style bath houses at the hotel and since nudity is the norm, so Pip and Domo wouldn't have shared any photos. (You see them naked all the time, but you know, they wouldn't want to share other peoples' naked bits without permission.)

Each hotel room has its own stone tiled tub with taps that pour out water from the hot springs. While they can't sit under the stars amongst a pretty Japanese style garden,  their only night at the spa wasn't a total bust.

Jiaoxi has been a popular tourist hot spot since the Japanese colonial period, hence the influence of Japanese bath houses. The hot spring water is odorless, lacking the sulphur scent of many hot springs. The water is made up of sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and carbonic acid ions and has an average temperate of 58 degrees Celsius.

Filling the tile tub was overkill for Domo and Pipkin but they imagined it was their own private hot spring pool. Soaking in the mineral rich water left Domo and Pipkin's furry exteriors incredibly soft!

It was nice to get out of the hot tub and enjoy a refreshing cool rinse with the adjacent shower. 

It seemed like every bathroom in the hotels they stayed at had a telephone beside the toilet, and this hotel, the nicest one they stayed in, was no exception. Pipkin can't imagine wanting to talk to anyone while they were on the potty. This hotel's potty was the fanciest one they'd seen. Just look at all the options!

So after a very thorough cleansing experience, the two fell into a deep sleep and looked forward to the next day. In the light of day, the two awoke and looked out their window. They didn't seem to have missed too much by getting in late the previous night. Looks like they were surrounded by other touristy looking spa hotels. On to Taipei!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eternal Spring Shrine, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

It was a very rainy day when Pipkin and Domo visited the Eternal Spring Shrine at Taroko National Park. A rainy day isn't the best day to visit, since getting to the shrine involves walking through tunnels cut in the mountain, and much of the way is steep, slippery, and dark. Even without the rain, there is always the danger of rockfalls.

Given the steep terrain and the constant threat of rockfalls, one wonders who in their right mind would build a temple here. Sure, it's beautiful, but it doesn't seem all that safe. In fact, this place has had to be rebuilt twice because of damage caused by landslides. Third time's the charm? Oh, and speaking of things that come in three, let's run down a few of the dangers of building here, from the top down. First, the aforementioned rockslides from above.

Second, the rock at Eternal Spring Shrine is made up of green schist, thin marble and quartz schist strata. It is fragile enough to begin with, and all the more unstable because a fault line runs through it.

Finally, the Liwu River at the base of the shrine is continually eroding the slope. Eternal Spring Shrine, you say? Mmm hmmmm...

So who's ready to walk to the shrine?

There's ample warning along the way. If you don't happen to read Chinese or English, hopefully the drawing isn't too abstract to understand.

As you walk through tunnels blasted into the fault lined fragile rock, you come across this memorial which commemorates the 212 construction workers who died while building the Central Cross Island Highway near the shrine.

Eventually you emerge from the darkness and you can walk through the temples. Domo took a photo of Pipkin at the falls. Who knows how long this will be here?