Day 3: Hot Springs and the Northeast Coast of Taiwan

Day 3 was spent enjoying the hot springs at Jiaosi and traveling along the eastern coast of Taipei as we made our way around the northern part back around to Taipei.  For this day of exploring I booked a private tour guide, which is nice sometimes so you can doing things at your leisure rather than have a strict schedule dictated by a group.

We started our day at the Evergreen Resort Hotel, a well known spot to enjoy the local hot springs.  This is the serene setting at the front entrance to the hotel.
We made our way to Spring House to enjoy our own private room with a hot spring bath.  Just like in Japan, hot springs are enjoyed nude and often separated by gender, although co-ed options exist.  I have visited onsets in Japan before, but Ryan hasn't yet given this a try, and because we didn't want to be split up while relaxing in the hot springs, we opted for a resort with a private room.  
The hot spring water is piped into the rooms and used to fill baths.
Here is the tub a little fuller, and yes, there is a duck.  It's actually a thermometer.  There is a button you can press and it pumps oxygen (tiny bubbles) into the water and it makes it "milky".
The room also came complete with a bed (Japanese style), but we only had a short stay, although we could have stayed overnight.
The bath room was pretty much the same as a Japanese onset, with a place to bathe before hand beside the the tub.  In an onsen the set up is the same, with a little stool and a handheld shower head for bathing.
Here we are looking relaxed after a soak in the hot springs.
Our next stop was to get a steamed bun from a very well known shop (according to our guide this place gets very long lines and is the most well known in this area).  It doesn't look like much, but I guess when you are making steamed buns there isn't much that you need.
The only problem here is that we were too early!  They didn't have any ready yet and it would have been about 30 minutes to wait.
The next stop at the Lanyang Museum.  This was definitely an interesting shaped museum!  As I noticed later on, this shape matches the interesting rock formations that line the coastline around this area.  This museum shows the history and geography of Yilan County. 
The area just outside the museum was definitely nice to look at, although not a lot of shade and it was hot outside.
I only took a few pictures inside, mostly of the nature displays with local animals and some of the history.  It was a nice museum but we didn't want to spend too much time there because there was still so much to see.
Looks like a turtle!  But I guess it does a nice job keeping the sun off their back.

This was a fun interactive display.  There were sensors and if you waved your hands around the fish would swim towards you.

At the end we visited a temporary display that showed the local festival and we had the chance to fill out a card with our wish and tie it on to this "tree".
Our next stop was a beach.  I believe this is Fulong Beach.
I believe this is the rock known as turtle rock.  From a different angle it actually does look like turtle.
At 3 days into our trip I was still excited to see so many palm trees.
Lunch was at a seafood restaurant in a small fishing village right on the water.  I ordered shrimp and they went outside and pulled them out of a tank out here and cooked them.  Apparently very fresh!  And this freaked everyone else out and I was left to eat all the shrimp myself, which took a lot too because it kind of freaked me out too!
Here are some of the other dishes on the menu.
Here is my plate of very, very fresh, steamed shrimp.  They were actually very good and even better dipped into soy sauce with wasabi.
We had some fried rice.
Green veggies
This is a special soup made with very tiny fish that are also very popular in Japan.  This soup was really good!
Then we had some dessert.  I know this looks weird.  It was like juice and ice with jelly pieces in it.  It was plant based, not gelatin, but similar texture.  It was pretty good too.
Our next stop was something unique that our tour guide suggested we try out.  There was an old mining tunnel that was closed down when a new tunnel was built along side it for use by the train (or maybe it was for cars).  After being shut down it was converted to a bike path.  What a great idea!  I love that someone thought of converting this tunnel to something that promoted physical activity.  You don't even need to have your own bike.  There are rental shops at the start of the tunnel.
Reminders of the tunnel formerly used for transport during mining.
Here we are with our rented bikes, ready to head down the tunnel.
Here is Ryan taking a picture of the sign with distances, but it also shows the distance of the tunnel.  It's lesser known so it wasn't that busy.  Not sure how our guide discovered this, but it was certainly a fun and different activity to add into our itinerary. 
Here is the view at the other end of the tunnel.
It comes out right on the coast.  In the distance is the opening for the tunnel.
Beautiful coastal views!
They also had some cute sculptures.  These were all made using pieces from the old railroad that passed through the tunnel.
More scenic views

Here I am with Ryan at one of the look out points before we got back on the bikes and headed back.
Here you can see the bigger, newer tunnel for the current railway and then down on the right side, the old tunnel now used as a bike path, complete with painted tracks.

This is back out at the location where we started.  It was really cute.  I just wished I knew the name of it.  It's always nice to get some physical activity in while on vacation (of course I walked tons and tons every day, it was nice to do a little exercise and different type of activity).
More fun stuff made from parts that were left over when they closed down this tunnel.  This is a chair.
Really cute statues made from train parts.
Saw this as we were driving along the northeast coast.  It was too cute not to snap a picture of.  In case you can't see, the blue whale says "marry me" and the pink says "yes, I do".
The next few pictures were taken while we were driving along the coast making our way back to Taipei.

Here we are at our final stop, Longdong.  This is Nanya, the rocky shoreline.  The sun was still pretty high in the sky at this point, which made for some interesting pictures, although sometimes a little difficult to get a good shot.
This coastline was definitely beautiful and worth checking out.  The rock formations were really neat.

I really loved all of the neat rock formations and different ridges and holes found in each of the rocks.

Same rock, different angle.
And another slightly different view.
Loving the coastline and neat rock formations.  Glad I was able to sit down for a few minutes and take it all in.
While we were headed out the day before we passed by this Gordon Biersch, which is a restaurant we had near us when we lived in Las Vegas.  It was also located near an Ikea, which we hadn't been in since before we moved to Japan, so we decided this was an excellent location for dinner.
Beer was most welcome!
Garlic fries also sounded like a good idea.  They were!
I had a shrimp flatbread (all the while thinking I had eaten way too many shrimp that day!).  It was spicy!  But it was good.
Ryan had some tacos, which he said were good, but not excellent.
After dinner we headed to Ikea and had some fun looking around at things.
Wow, look at that price!  Just kidding...there are about 30 New Taiwan Dollars per US dollar.
We had hoped to get some ice cream at the Ikea, but they were already closed when we made it though the store.  Instead, we decided to try this place, located in the mall next door.
Lots of very, very interesting traditional desserts.  Ryan had an mango shave ice.
I went a little more adventurous and had this crazy looking dessert.  Yes, I promise this is dessert.  It has all kinds go things, including jelly noodles and tofu.
You can see the clear jelly noodles better here.  There are also black balls like tapioca balls found in boba tea.  It was actually pretty good.  I am glad I had exposure to desserts like this when I was in Malaysia because I knew that it would likely taste better than it looked.
On our walk back to the hotel from the MRT station we passed by this little shrine (we walked by it every night, but I finally decided to stop).  It was down a tiny alleyway.

Pretty creepy to stumble upon late at night, in the dark, on a tiny alley, but also pretty neat at the same time.  Thankfully I saw it first in the day time so it wasn't as strange looking.
This was my nighttime happy place.  I walked by these lanterns every night of our trip and just took a moment to look at them and enjoy the quiet night and beautiful scene.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever visited a hot spring or onsen?  What is your favorite coastline view?  What is the most unique thing you have done on vacation?


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