Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My teachers, classmates and I went on a field trip last Saturday, at the teacher's recommendation. She chose Wulai, which is a district known for its remedial hot springs, "thousand year old eggs" and aboriginal culture. According to its Wikipedia page, "The name of the town derives from the Atayal phrase qilux ulay meaning 'hot and poisonous'."

On the way up, we stopped at the reservoir from which Taipei draws its drinking water:

And then the teacher brought us to a restaurant (in what looked like a giant tin greenhouse) that she says she stops at every time she goes up to Wulai.

That's my teacher in the photo

She did all the ordering ... we had an entire roast chicken, two pyramids of fried rice, some sauteed garlic chive roots and another vegetable I don't know the English name for. Everything was surprisingly delicious.

And then we continued driving, stopping at a hanging bridge. I'd previously walked across a hanging bridge when I went to Alishan, but this one had a much more beautiful view, even in the rain.

And then we headed to the tourist area, where the hot springs were also located. We left all our belongings on the "beach," so I didn't get the chance to take photos of the hot springs themselves (plus it was raining, so we were sitting in the springs while holding umbrellas over our heads ... try to visualize this comical image for a moment, if you can). Nearby, some older men and women were soaking in the springs and even bathing in them. My classmates and I just soaked our feet. The water was intermittently cool and unbearably hot, so I had to get out after about 20 minutes. My legs were red from the hot water. Soaking in a hot spring is supposed to improve your circulation and make you sleepy. It definitely made me very sleepy.

After we climbed out of the hot springs, we went to buy some goodies from the stalls in the market. 

One of my friends bought some Chinese sausage on a stick, I bought some grilled mochi on a stick (slathered in a crushed peanut and sugar mix), which was pretty good. And we all bought boxes of mochi to bring home. I'm not sure if the mochi in Wulai is famous, but it was very, very good. So far, I've seen many varieties of brown sugar-"skinned" mochi in Taiwan, whereas in the U.S., most of the mochi has either the original skin (rice) or some awfully artificial flavor, like cantaloupe or strawberry. One of the brown sugar pieces I tried had incredibly smooth peanut butter as its filling and it was SO good. Nice and smooth and creamy.

On the ride back, most of the students started dozing off because we were so sleepy from the warm soak. But after a quick rest, we went bowling! I'll save that for another entry.

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