January 2nd, 2015
Day 2 of day trips was to take place in Guguan, a town famous for it’s natural hot springs. After looking on a map I found out that it would take an hour and a half to get there by scooter. On Friday morning I finally made up by mind that I would scooter there, so I got up early so I could get my scooter’s oil changed, get gas, and eat breakfast before Alex and I were to get on the road at 11:00am.
I met up with Alex and we were on our way. I was listening to Google maps directions and about 15 minutes in I accidentally took an early turn. Well Google being Google it went with it and took me on this back road through the mountains that are close to Fengyuan. All I could think was where the heck am I. My plan was to keep going the scenic route, but then we reached a part of the road where it was completely under construction and the construction workers were yelling at me in Taiwanese. I turned around quickly and had to drive all the way back to the original road I was on. That was a good 30-40 minute detour. I drove the rest of the way to Guguan with no problems except for when I got stung by a bug when I was trying to get it out of my helmet. Alex and I finally made it to Guguan around 2:00pm.
The first thing we searched for was a place to use the restroom and a place for me to park my scooter. Once that was taken care of we followed a brown sign that said Hot Spring Ditch. We found out this is a place with warmer water that you can put your feet in and have little fish bite the dead skin off your feet.
Next, we decided to follow the hiking trail that Guguan has to offer. Shaolai Trail is 1,300 meters long. At the start you have to cross a suspension bridge (I am kind of afraid of heights) and then walk up a lot of stairs to get to the top of the mountain. There is even a sign at the beginning of the hike that tells you to assess your physical condition before hiking up the trail. About a fourth of the way through the hike I understood why. Sooooo many steep stairs. Everyone on the hike was cheering each other on as we continued up the mountain. We even saw a monkey as we were going up the mountain! At the top of course there was a great mountainous view and a resting area for people to catch their breathes.
We rested a good period of time and then started back down the mountain. What was supposed to be an easy hike down ended up being just as bad as the hike up. Since the stairs were so steep I was holding onto the railing hoping my clumsy self wouldn’t trip down the stairs. I made it to the bottom safe and sound, which meant it was time to search for a hot spring. All of the hotels in Guguan have hot springs, but we really just wanted to know if there was a public one. Having no luck I messaged Alice and she told me to try the Four Seasons. At the Four Seasons we were able to buy a pass into the hot springs they have. It cost 400NT (13USD), which was a bit more expensive, but worth it. I think we ended up spending over two hours at the Four Seasons. All the water temperatures were perfect, and there was even a cold water pool where we could have our dead skin eaten off by little fish. Those little fish are aggressive! After drinking some complementary coffee & tea we went into the water one last time and then left. We walked out of the Four Seasons so relaxed. It was a great feeling.
By this time of the day Alex and I were getting hungry and we have no idea where to eat. Although Guguan is a small tourist town it has very limited food options, or at least a variety. The first place we checked out had its lowest dish priced at 500NT (15USD). I was not in the mood to pay for an expensive meal so I suggested we keep walking. We finally ended up at a small Taiwanese food shop. No one could speak English so I had to trust the app on my phone to tell me what was on the menu. We ordered beef noodles, meat with rice, and vegetables. We both paid 140NT (4.60USD) each for our meal. In the restaurant I had my back to the door, so when we finally got up I was shocked to see that it was pitch black outside. This now meant that I would have to drive us home in the dark. The drive was actually fine, but I was a little nervous because for the first 30-40 minutes of the drive I was driving down the windy mountain road in the pitch black. I wasn’t even driving that slow and cars were passing me, which was making me even more nervous because we were on a mountain. I made amazing timing by getting back to Fengyuan in an hour. Alex and I got hot chocolate at 7-eleven and then said our goodbyes.
While Guguan isn’t the biggest, most awesome landmark in Taiwan it was definitely a cool place to go visit for a day and a great place to just relax.