As of May this year, Wulai public hot springs have been destroyed. For many of us, Wulai hot springs were a relaxing place to become one with nature and enjoy conversing with locals. To honor their memory, we have written this post.
History of Wulai Hot Springs
Wulai was originally an Atayal aborigine village, its name meaning hot and poisonous. There has always been natural hot springs in Wulai, but much of that water has been channeled into hotels and public bathhouses. The free hot springs stood at the bottom of the hill next to the river, and was a collection of used hot spring water from the hotels and paid hot springs above. In its prime, it boasted the largest free outdoor hot springs in Taiwan. Recently the township of Wulai has become a major tourist attraction, partly because of its close proximity to Taipei. It has museums, waterfalls, a gondola, a train (under renovation), a night market, and most of all hot springs.
In 2015 Typhoon Soudelor wreaked havoc to the town and destroyed many hot springs. Due to this and sanitation concerns, New Taipei City decided to shut down the hot springs, and gave the owners until April 2017 to tear it down. When the owners did not comply, New Taipei took the matter in their own hands and tore down the springs in May 2017.
My experience at Wulai springs was quite peaceful. When I was there last February, there were many pools to choose from with varying temperatures. Also, there were many free showers there made from recycled billboards. Some pools were full of dead skin, but the water was changed out every hour (even so, the new water coming in was also not guaranteed to be clean, although it was just as clean as any cheap public hot spring you would find in Beitou). I must admit that the average demographic there was 65 and older Taiwanese people, but I imagine they came there regularly, so now that the springs are demolished their daily relaxed routine of soaking in the springs is gone. They are the true victims of this demolition.
Next to the springs was a hole that captured the spring water mixed with river water. Although some of the water was foamy, it was relaxing swimming in the cool calm water after a dip in the springs. Perhaps the best part of the experience was the great mountain view and fresh air. In spring, there were also cherry blossoms on the hills for all to enjoy.
The New Taipei City government said the water from these springs was too filthy and polluting the river. Also they claimed it was hard to evacuate people using the springs during a Typhoon. In 2015 there were two fatalities during typhoon Soudelor; both these people were using the hot springs during the typhoon. In addition, the river is officially restricted from building anything. Because of these factors the government worked to shut these hot springs down.
Photo credit: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3166954
Personally, I think the private hot spring hotel owners in Wulai worked together to lobby against the public hot springs and bring them down so that they could make an extra buck. The New Taipei City government should have taken over the public springs to make them safer, cleaner, and legal: this would have brought tourists and money to the community. Those that want to go to free hot springs will now visit elsewhere.
We are very sad to see these hot springs go, and consider ourselves lucky to have enjoyed them while they lasted. But with all things that are fun, eventually some law or regulation will shut them down. I hope that someday New Taipei City government will have the foresight to rebuild them into a legal, safe, and free hot springs again.
Please leave your comments, memories, or other thoughts below, and don't forget to like and share!
The recent changes to Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act (LSA) have left many people confused. Most foreigners don’t know what Taiwan’s labor standards are at all, so let me give you some important points below:
Advice for Foreigners:
Recently added LSA regulations:
With the recent island-wide power outage on August 15th, many people were stuck at work with nothing to do. In this situation, under the new regulations employers could have actually let employees go home without pay because it wasn’t the employer’s fault that there was a power outage.
Here is a picture of my office during the outage:
Employers cannot put random clauses in the contract that contradicts other clauses or the law. As all white collar foreigners must have contracts in Taiwan, this is important to consider.
One of the biggest faults that people have with the new LSA is that overtime is not flexible enough.
The government is considering to not limiting the total overtime hours to one week, but to one month or six months, or even one year. This would be most fitting to seasonal industries that have a few busy months in the year and the rest of the year has no overtime.
Also, working on holidays doesn’t count as overtime, but after 8 hours it does. Working on rest days does count toward overtime. If people come on a rest day off then they are paid for the whole day. Some employers will want to keep employees there for the whole day. However, employers can save on utilities of they let them go home early.
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Fish Foot Massage 溫泉魚SPA
There is a popular trend in Taiwan to let fish eat the skin off of your feet. These places are usually related to "hot springs" in some way. I have done this a few times, but the last time we were in Jiaoxi it seemed like the town specialised in fish foot massage places. In fact, I later found that Jiaoxi is the foot massage capital of Taiwan.
Letting fish eat the skin off your feet is really uncomfortable at first. Me and my wife could not but laugh for the first few minutes, it is a very tingly experience. After a while though, you get used to it, and it is quite relaxing. My wife was especially happy that she didn't have to buy a foot bandage to get rid of her excess callus. I originally was riding around town looking for regular outdoor hot springs to soak in (because our hotel room didn't have one) but ended only finding this. The total price for us to relax here for an unlimited time was 60 NT per person. However it was outdoors and so also incredibly hot.
History of Fish Foot Massage:
The first documented evidence of this fish foot massage seems to have originated in Greece, a practice called Ichthyotherapy, which was meant to heal various ailments and sores. The fish most commonly used is the doctor fish which has no teeth. I have no idea how or when this Mediterranean practice became popular in Asia, but now it seems like a standard spa treatment in many Asian countries.
Some people, mostly American scientists, have spoken against this practice, calling it unsanitary. Usually the same fish are used on different people, which may cause certain diseases to spread. Because of this, fish message therapy has been banned in 14 U.S. states. Source:
So maybe this might not be the most sanitary activity, but its fun! Don't let those pessimistic American scientists deter you. Getting your feet eaten slowly by tons of little fish is an experience of a lifetime that you can tell your grandchildren, so just go out and do it.
Wufengqi Waterfall 五峰旗大瀑布
Last week we made our way to the famous and ever popular Wufengqi waterfall in Jiaoxi. The waterfall was only a five minute scooter ride from our hotel. The entrance to the waterfall is simply a dead end to a mountain road that seems should have gone on longer. When we went, there were tons of cars and people, so this place seems to be very well advertised locally.
An Ahma showing us all how we should live life: do Taichi in front of a waterfall every morning. However this morning was not the post peaceful and quiet. A few men with chainsaws were cutting down Typhoon debris that has built up in the river. It was quite loud.
Further down from the main falls, a few people were swimming in the river. I would have joined them, but I was alone and there were just too many people for me to really connect with nature. Let me say again: there were TONS of people.
Below is a slide show with captions of the various places along the Wufengqi waterfall trail. I don't know how this will turn out; this is an experimental blog.
In conclusion, Wufengqi waterfall is beautiful but sadly very overcrowded. If you are looking for a peaceful place to connect with nature, this is not the place for you. But if you are looking for an easily accessible hike for your family, then this would be a good fit (although, funny story, my wife took two steps on the trail and a giant snake slithered right in front of us, so that was the end for her).
Below is a map for your reference:
If you have anything you would like to add, or you think I suck at blogging, please leave a comment below. We appreciate your feedback.
Luodong Night Market 羅東夜市
Last weekend we went to Yilan for vacation. Our first stop was the night market in Luodong, the biggest night market in Yilan. As you can see we did not bring a tripod and had shaky hands for the photos. Enjoy!
We were surprised to find quite a busy night market which in the middle was so packed with people that you could barely move. Pretty much every night market stand was a food stall. There wasn't much of selling clothes or trinkets from what we could see, although there were many clothing shops surrounding the night market.
One food stand particularly caught my eye: fried Taro buns with various fillings, You could choose cheese, meat floss, or egg yolk. I chose the cheese. It was okay, nothing too special. But only 20 NT a piece. After looking around at all the fried food we decided that we just wanted some hot pot that we saw at the mouth of the night market, 3 Momma's hotpot 三媽臭臭火鍋。
We have always been fans of 3 Momma's hotpot 三媽臭臭火鍋. Some have free drinks and ice cream, this one only had wintermelon tea. I got a seafood hotpot for 120 NT, but I was surprised to find that there were no oysters. I thought for sure oysters would be a staple in every seafood hotpot in Taiwan, but I guess you can't have everything you want.
In conclusion, Luodong night market is a great place if you are looking for a snack. There are a decent amount of people, food stands, and variety. The price is okay; I was expecting a little cheaper from a small town night market like this. If you'd like to add something please let us know down below in the comments!
Last weekend we made our way to the beautiful township in Yilan County called Jiaoxi, known for its waterfall and hot springs. It is a town with a population of about 35,000 people, and it seems it relies mostly on tourism to survive. Our experiences and our quest to find the well-hidden beach are explained below.
This is a view of Jiaoxi that I took across the train tracks. It seems that south of the train; there is nothing but rice fields with spattered houses and factories. On the north side of the tracks, I would say that 50% of the buildings are hot spring hotels. Most of the hotels here are super cheap. Ours was 840 NT, and other high end ones were under 2000 NT. This is because there are way too many hotels in this town. Because of its close proximity to Taipei, many Taipei entrepreneurs have invested in this spot close to home where they can cash in on some tourism.
There is an inter-city bus station, a train station, a McDonald's, and a Starbucks in the town, so it is not the smallest town ever.
As my wife and child rested at the hotel, I went for an early morning scooter ride through the countryside. I found the rice fields quite peaceful, a refreshing view from the busy concrete jungle that is Taipei.
Driving aimlessly around, I found some telephone poles that were knocked sideways by Typhoon Nesat, indicative of some very strong winds that came through the area. I also found that quite a few signs had been knocked down by the storm.
Actually, driving through Jiaoxi after the Typhoon was like seeing America in autumn; all the leaves were golden and dying, or just missing altogether. The mountainside next to our hotel was barren, and many places looked completely dry and dead. It was like a bomb had gone off.
Somewhere in my aimless wandering I decided to go the beach, I figured it was close. However, I lost my sense of direction (even though mountains are clearly on the East). Eventually I got to a long mound of earth, like a levee next to the ocean. On top of the levee were graves and a military base, making it impossible to go the 100 meters left to the beach. I must have driven 10 kilometers before I broke down and looked at google maps. There was a small alley road leading to the beach from where I saw an Abei exit from.
I didn’t have a swimming suit, so I drove 10 minutes back to the hotel (originally it took me an hour and a half to find the beach, although I did wander around and take pictures along the way). The water was very refreshing in the 35 degree weather; cool but not too cold, although the water was murky and foamy. Maybe that was a bad idea. I’ll find out when I get cancer. No one lives forever.
Jiaoxi Hotspring Hotel 礁溪温泉商旅
Last weekend we decided to go to Yilan to vacation. As part of that process, we looked around for hotels. Our plan was to see the Luodong night market, so we wanted a hotel close to there. But then we realized that there were much cheaper hotels in the nearby township Jiaoxi, and most of them included breakfast and hot springs. We ended up going with the cheapest hotel room (not shared hostel room), Jiaoxi Hotspring Hotel 礁溪温泉商旅 for 840 NT!
After seeing the night market and renting a scooter from "Hi" scooters, we were on our way to the hotel for the night. It wasn't too far, only about a 25 minute scooter ride, and not too hard to find either. When we checked in, the guy at the front desk didn't even check my ID (first time that has ever happened to me). Maybe it was because we were the only guests that night? We didn't see anyone else there.
Part of the reason I think no one was there was that there are hotels everywhere in Jiaoxi. I think half the city was made up of hot spring hotels. Very much a saturated market, and it explains why our hotel was so cheap.
The room was nice and clean. Not the newest building in the world, but good enough for me and my family. My daughter was very interested in that pillow on the bed. One problem we had though was there was no fridge, so we had no choice but to store the breast milk we had brought at room temperature, and eventually it went bad.
This hotel claims to be a “Hot Spring Hotel," but we didn't see any anywhere. I guess our room was too cheap. But, our bathtub did have jets, which was nice. But the jets were only on the side, so you couldn't get a good back massage, and the tub was super small.
So you're probably thinking, why is this guy writing a review about a crappy Hotel? Well, frankly we need more posts on this site so we can get more ads so we can make more money. Keep reading.
One of the main reasons that we chose this hotel was that it included breakfast. We were surprised to find there was no restaurant at the hotel, but we were given a breakfast coupon to a local breakfast shop. This was nice, but the coupon only included about 45 NT worth of food per person (one burger and one drink), but luckily we had Poptarts back at the hotel. So basically, for all you people going to Jiaoxi, spend a few hundred more dollars for a hot spring in your hotel room and for a nice breakfast buffet.
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"Hi" Scooter Rental in Luodong
On my last trip to Luodong we came across a scooter shop tucked in a alley behind the bus station. Their prices are not the cheapest, but you get 100 NT off when you post their location on Facebook. We rented a 125 cc. for 350 NT for 24hrs. The scooters seemed brand new, and someone had filled up the tank for us. Hi doesn't siphon the tank like other scooter rental places, so if you get lucky you don't even have to pay for gas!
Their website: www.xn--hi--4d2e682ijpt7o7a.tw/
Address: No. 9 Liming Street, Luodong Township 羅東鎮黎明街9號
When I first came to Taiwan in 2011, I hated pineapple. Then I had Taiwan pineapple and it changed my world; it tasted like a pineapple starburst. I realized then that Taiwan fruit is sweet and amazing.
Below is a list of our favorite Taiwan fruits. Many if not all of these fruits are not native to Taiwan, but Taiwan is the first place we ever tasted them. And even though it means nothing, what the heck, we will number them from the top 15 to 1.
Pictures were taken from the following public domain sources:
15. Starfruit 楊桃
Starfruit is cool because when you cut it into slices it has the shape of a star. That’s about the only good thing about it. I mean, it tastes like grass. People in Taiwan make smoothies with it, I assume those would be okay but I have never had one. Sorry starfruit fans.
14. Persimmon 柿子
This fruit looks like a tomato on the outside but inside is like an apple, though not quite as sweet. It’s not the most delicious fruit in Taiwan but it is unique.
13. Custard Apple/Sugar Apple 釋迦/番荔枝
This is truly a Taiwan delicacy with entire towns in eastern Taiwan specializing in growing this fruit. It has a sweet taste and soft texture, and tons of seeds. I like the flavor of this fruit, but picking out all the peanut sized seeds can be annoying.
12. Papaya 木瓜
A giant pumpkin-like fruit, it has a soft semi sweet flesh and a very unique flavor. Usually these are not sweet enough for me, so I prefer papaya milk or smoothies where the flavor is brought out in the best way.
11. Leechee 荔枝
Leechee is a special Taiwan fruit. It is also similar to Longan 龍眼. It has a hard shell with citrus fruit in the middle. I have to admit it’s not my favorite because of the shell and the giant seed in the middle， but the sweet fruit inside is delicious, like a cross between an orange and a lemon.
10. Wax Apple 蓮霧
These look like wax apples I guess? Inside they have a very soft flesh, and are easier to chew on for those of us with sensitive teeth. They are sweet, but not the sweetest fruit ever.
9. Jujube 棗子
These are like apples but with a giant seed in the middle and with a slightly different shape. These are usually grown in Taiwan, so you rest assured that they are fresh, unlike the Washington State apples that took a 3 month boat ride to get here.
8. Durian 榴槤
This spiky fruit can be stinky, disgusting, and frightful for most foreigners. However, my friends once gave it to me frozen and it tasted just like ice cream, so next time try it in frozen form. But beware as this fruit is super expensive.
7. Passion fruit 百香果
Literally translated from Chinese, this fruit is called "100 flavors fruit." Passion fruit can be extremely sour if you get one that is not ripe. A friend of mine told me you have to find ones that look old and wrinkly on the outside, these are more likely to be sweet. The taste of ripe passion fruit is an amazing sweet and sour mix similar to Mango, and we love it.
6. Pomelo 柚子
This fruit is traditionally eaten during the mid-autumn festival. It is basically like a giant orange, with a really think peel. The peel is so big actually, that you can wear it as a hat during the festival and become one with the culture (Below is a picture of me with full pomelo garb and the full moon at my back).
5. Dragon Fruit 火龍果
This fruit is literally called "Fire Dragon Fruit" in Chinese. It comes in white and dark purple. It tastes okay: not very sweet. But it just looks cool inside and out, especially the purple ones.
4. Guava 芭樂
Guava is wonderful. It comes in white and red flesh varieties, although the outside is always green. Inside is a very sweet dense flesh with tiny rock hard seeds. I think it is best to eat these dipped in sweet plum powder.
Taiwan pineapple is as sweet as candy. I love to go buy a huge bag of chopped pineapple on the street and eat it as a snack. American pineapple on the other hand is almost always bland and sour, so I especially miss it whenever I am gone. Also, if you are interested in endless rolling hills filled with Pineapple fields, you should check out Dashu 大樹 in Kaohsiung.
2. Banana 香蕉
Some would say Ecuador is the banana capital of the world, and that is probably right, but I’m sure Taiwan bananas are just as good. The most famous bananas are from 旗山 Qishan in Kaohsiung, and are some of the biggest bananas I have ever seen. One of the great things about living in Taiwan is you can buy fresh bananas on the street almost everywhere, so if you are a banana connoisseur like myself you will not have worry about bananas going bad (I eat bananas every single every day).
Banana prices in Taiwan (along with all fruits and vegetables) are affected by Typhoons. At the beginning of 2017, bananas were selling at 4 times the normal price, a ten year high. Partly because of this and because I love bananas, I have planted 4 banana sprouts on my in-laws property. I should be able to harvest fruit in a year or two. Stay tuned for related blog posts.
1. Mango 芒果
Taiwan Mangoes can compete with any dessert anywhere. Although there are many mango varieties, the taste is similar: amazing. The soft but not too soft texture mixed with super sweet and a hint of sour makes it one of the best fruits ever invented. There is a mango season in Taiwan that lasts from about May until October, which makes summer mangoes all that more desirable. Delicious Taiwan mangoes are an aspect of Taiwan that I always miss when I am in the States.
Did we miss your favorite fruit? Sorry. You can add it in the comments below. This is by no means an exhaustive list; we just want to share our favorite Taiwan fruits with the world.
Nuclear Power in Taiwan
Nuclear power has been a decisive topic in Taiwan, and has received overwhelming opposition. We at Foreigners in Taiwan are passionate about nuclear energy, and think it a pity that nuclear power does not receive the same support that it does in other countries.
Overview of Nuclear Power in Taiwan currently:
History of Nuclear Power Opposition:
Opposition to nuclear power has existed since before Fukushima helped push waves of protest and anti-nuclear sentiment in Taiwan.
Fear and protest regarding nuclear power was strongly bolstered by the 2011 Japan nuclear leak. Many people feared that a similar situation could occur in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s nuclear plants are under active seismic risk, and have some of the highest risk of seismic hazard of any nuclear plants in the world, according the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program. Thomas B. Cochran, Matthew G. McKinzie (19 August 2011). "Global Implications of the Fukushima Disaster for Nuclear Power" (PDF). Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved 24 February2012.
Another problem is finding a place to store Taiwan nuclear waste. Currently the government uses Lanyu Island, which has made the local residents very unhappy (as this was originally done without their permission). Putting the waste in other countries also causes diplomatic problems.
Alternatives to Nuclear Power:
In 2016 The Tsai administration won the election, promising to phase out nuclear power by 2025, replacing it with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar (but mostly coal for now!). However, these plans are far from completion.
Fusion power is also considered as an alternative, but this is simply not realistic. No one in the world is running this as a feasible energy source. This should be completely off the table until reliable fusion power is developed.
Problems that Eliminating Nuclear Power will Create:
1. More Coal
Nuclear power has mainly been replaced by coal, as renewable energy sources are stymied by EPA assessments and lack of infrastructure. The increase in coal power has caused C02 emissions to rise in Taiwan by a considerable amount.
Spent coal ash is actually more radioactive that nuclear waste, and it affects all that are close to coal power plants. Source:
2. Electricity Blackouts/ Higher Prices
Perhaps the side effect that will hit most people closest to home is a raise in electricity prices. Taipower has said the price for electricity could increase by 40% if nuclear is shut down.
Also, there is the risk of summer blackouts when electricity use is at its maximum. As a taxpaying foreigner, I think that is ridiculous. Not only will it affect consumers and those barely making it with Taiwan’s low wages, this will affect Taiwan’s feasibility as a base for industry.
Wind and Solar cannot pick up slack unless somehow they can overcome EPA woes and locals not willing to give up their land for the infrastructure. Even if these problems were overcome, Solar and Wind will not be as reliable as nuclear, and I foresee summer blackouts when winds in the straight are not blowing as hard.
Solutions for Nuclear Power in Taiwan：
Opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan is not going away anytime soon, but we believe that perhaps this opposition can be overcome by promoting the following strategies:
Overall we as foreigners in Taiwan believe that nuclear power is better for the environment, more cost effective, and more reliable than any other source of energy. We understand the opposition in Taiwan, but we hope we can continue to raise awareness and perhaps help to keep this integral power resource in Taiwan, and continue to improve Taiwan’s nuclear infrastructure so that is safe from disasters, such as Fukushima.
If you have any comments or you would like to join us in helping raise nuclear power awareness in Taiwan, please leave a comment below.
Also, be sure to follow our twitter handle: https://twitter.com/TWfornuclear
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.