This post was last updated on November 19th, 2013
We know—we’ve been on a temporary hiatus from the blog. Not because we haven’t been doing awesome things that we really want to write about, but rather because when we aren’t gallivanting around town, we’re working 50 hours a week. It’s awesome; it just doesn’t leave much free time for A Cruising Couple. BUT we’re back, at least for this blog post. :-)
The weather is finally getting better in Hsinchu. But for a while, it was rainy and cold and miserable every day. A couple weeks ago we decided that we couldn’t handle too much more of it, and absolutely nothing sounded better than lounging around in some relaxing hot springs. We decided to make the hour and a half scooter ride out to the aboriginal village of Chingchuan (inconveniently through the freezing and pelting rain) to relax in said hot springs. They were everything hot springs should be: soothing and tranquil, coupled with a picturesque location in the mountains. There were three springs to choose from, including super-hot, hot, and suicidal cold, as well as five different massaging showerheads. Added cool points went to the fact that you could actually sit in the super-hot hot spring while simultaneously feeling the rain pour down over you. Had we not had to drive an hour and a half home through the mountains in a pitch-dark downpour just waiting for zombies to pop out at any moment, it probably would have been a perfect day.
Fast forward to April 1st. This time we had a slightly larger group trying to get out towards Sheipa National Park for some hiking. But with a later start than expected owing to an excess of dancing the night before, we inadvertently only made it out to Chingchuan. This second time around we didn’t visit the hot spring, but spent our time strolling around the village and engaging in some broken conversations with the local Atayal people. We even got our game on with some three-on-three basketball with one of the local children. (Please take note of his Jeremy Lin t-shirt.) There’s not too much more to say about our afternoon spent in Chingchuan, other than that it was awesome. The people are warm and friendly, and will eagerly try to speak to you even if you don’t know Chinese. The small market place near the parking lot is ideal for trying some aboriginal wine, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and receiving marriage proposals from a slightly intoxicated stand owner.
Located on a hill is the Chingchuan Catholic Church, where you’ll find the Fountain of Youth Hostel and the basketball court. The priest—originally from San Diego—has been living and ministering in Chingchuan for 30 years; he’s an awesome man with lots of stories about life in the village.
Other than the hot springs, there isn’t much to do in Chingchuan. But that’s really what makes it such a charming escape from Hsinchu. If we have one additional piece of advice, it’s to not be turned off by the long scooter ride. It offers some spectacular views of the mountains, and the prize of Chingchuan makes the trip truly worthwhile.