This is a continuation of my post on social media as see on my Instagram here.
Feeling adventurous? Need to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life in the big city? Why not take a short trip to Beitou where all your hot spring related dreams can come true...
Ok, so maybe not dreams but this was an experience never to forget. My friend had suggested we go to the hot springs. I, being the open minded traveler I am, said why the hell not with little to no hesitation. Though I had some idea of what to expect, it turned out to be almost more than I could handle...
We finally meet up and she wants to buy water. I'm thinking to myself "You're already underprepared kid. You won't make the cut!" (Always recommended to bring water with you to a hot spring. Your body dehydrates at a much higher rate. I digress, back to the story)
We walk to the entrance and there appears to be throng of people on their smartphones sitting outside the building. "This.. is the hot spring?" I think as we walk to the counter. $140 NT later ($5 USD) we are allowed in. She says to me, "Alright, see you in two hours!" Of course, idiotically, I reply "Yep, sounds good!" I had some definite assumptions that this was like any other hot spring experience i've had before. This was not the case..
I walk through the door and find myself in a room with about 20 naked other asian dudes. Some soaking in the tubs staring at the ceiling. Some perched like crows stretching and staring into the abyss. Some guys just chilling on the wooden platforms. "Uh.. I guess there isn't a locker room." Overwhelmed, I start to get naked while I put the plan together in my head. "Clothes here. Shower there. Sandals... where are the sandals!?"
I casually walk over to the "shower" at the other end of the room. Three older gentlemen are washing up after finishing their soak. I wait patiently and finally am given the nozzle. "This is weird.."
If finish rinsing and all I want to do is throw my body in one of these pools. I hop up and plop my feet into the closest pool. I instantly feel the pain of this excruciatingly hot water pulse up my legs. I look up next to the clock where it shows the temperature of the pool. I had gotten in the super hot pool. Shit!
As calm as I could, I jumped out. At some point someone says something to me about my sandals. Then the guy goes "oh I can speak English" in Mandarin and goes about his business. I was in no mental state to have a casual conversation in Mandarin. Nope. Nope. Nope.
In the meantime, the women, only separated by a wall, are clucking away next door. I don't understand..
Luckily, at this point, the worst has come and passed over. I'm still cognizant that i'm the only white person there but everyone goes back to their business. I try to keep a blank stare as I lay in the cooler pool which, by the way, is still way too hot. "Just don't stare at their balls." I say to myself as I sit there.
Slowly the minutes tick by. The cooler pool still has its limits. Just walking in it makes it feel like you're walking through lava. I get out of the water and take a break. "How much more time do I have?! 1 hour, 45 minutes. Frack!" I proceeded to begin the waiting game, in a room of naked taiwanese men. Joy.
5 minutes In the water. 10 minutes out of the water. I don't get the allure. This is supposed to be good for you?
5 minutes In the water. 10 minutes out of the water. Seriously? 1 hour and 15 minutes?!
5 minutes In the water. 10 minutes out of the water. "Blank stare. Blank stare. Blank stare."
At one hour, I negotiated enough with myself. There was no way in hell I was going to enjoy this anymore. So I did what any white boy would do in that situation, get the hell out.
The next minutes went by in a blur. Cleaning up. Washing. Putting on my clothes as fast as possible without attracting attention. I purposely leave off my socks as to not wrestle with them and my wet feet. I wanted out and I got it.
Would I do it again? I think so. Despite never doing something like this before, I felt like it was just another obstacle to overcome (an obstacle that I decided to pay for in this case). My friend, of course, stayed the whole two hours. I don't know how people can stay there for that long but then again she enjoys the hot springs at least every month.
What are your uncomfortable travel stories?