Day-tripping to the Taian hot springs
By Niang Chen
Translated by Angel Pu
For Taichung residents, the varied attractions of Miaoli county's Wenshui old neighborhood, Dahu strawberry farms, Xishuikeng "tofu street" and Taian hot springs can all be visited as part of a very relaxing one-day trip that takes about a 60-80 minute drive via the Zhongshan National Freeway No. 1. Use the following suggested routes and you'll find yourself enjoying a number of top central Taiwan visitor destinations.
The first stop of this excursion is Wenshui, a small, old and quiet neighborhood. Here, visitors can observe pork livers--a traditional Hakka dried food--being sun-dried along the side of the street. In most of the old handicraft shops, visitors will also find "cha-shou", traditional warmers made from woven materials. Most of the restaurants here also offer authentic Hakka cuisine that may remind some visitors of the dishes grandma used to make.
With the strawberry season arriving in December and January, visitors can take Miaoli County Expressway No. 62 to many strawberry farms, where bright-red, delicious-looking strawberries are waiting to be plucked. Keep going and you'll come to Miaoli's Xishuikeng Qingan Tofu Street, famous for its soft, delicious tofu made with local high-grade water. Numerous tofu shops line this narrow street, serving up all kinds of unique, tasty tofu varieties that attract huge numbers of tourists during holidays.
Miaoli Expressway No. 62 continues further into the mountains, where cherry and plum blossoms bloom and very beautiful, relaxing scenery can be enjoyed. The last stop of this trip is Taian hot springs. Members of the Atayal indigenous tribe were the first to locate the source of these hot springs, up a river in Taian's Jinshui village. During the Japanese colonial era, Japanese authorities established a therapy center here for police officers. And, in 1978, Taian hot springs became well-known after a visit by Chiang Ching-kuo.
The spring waters are alkaline, clear and odorless. Whether visitors choose to soak in a reasonably-priced public bath or at one of the high-end hot springs hotels, they will almost certainly have a wonderful time, washing away the weariness of their one-day adventure.
Take the National Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) Freeway No. 1 and exit at the Miaoli/Gongguan interchange. Head toward downtown Miaoli on Provincial Highway No. 6, turn left and take Expressway No. 72 toward Dahu. When seeing a forked road near a 7-11, either turn right for Wenshui Old Neighborhood, or turn left to head to the strawberry farms, Tofu Street and Taian Hot Springs.