Taiwan is a volcanic island located on what is known as the "Ring of Fire", a series of volcanoes and earthquake occurences that encircle the Pacific Ocean. Volcanoes generally occur near the boundaries of tectonic plates, especially at convergent boundaries, where plates move toward one another. The tectonic nature of Taiwan is the source of danger, in the form of earthquakes and eruptions, as well as pleasure, in the form of hot springs. (Thanks for bearing with "Science Teacher Jeremy" for a minute there . . .)
The Xin Beitou area of Taipei is famous for its hot spring spas, so this is where my cousin and her daughter brought us to experience them. The water from the springs is pumped into buildings where you can rent a room for with a bath tub and a view. We settled on this particular spa and took a couple hours to soak and relax.
From our room, we could see the public hot spring baths, which are much cheaper and outdoors. The hot springs are more popular in the winter weather, but believe me, it feels good to sweat it out sometimes. Even better is showering off with cold water after a hot bath.
After a couple hours of hot spring bathing, drinking tea, and watching Taiwanese TV, we packed up and headed to lunch. This particular meal was Japanese, a sort of semi-fast food (literally) restaurant; all of the food is served on small plates that pass by your table on a conveyor belt. As you see something you like, you grab it and eat it. We had tuna, salmon, and yellowtail sushi, fresh bamboo, seaweed salad, fried tofu, eel, miso soup, and a gelatin milk desert. My cousin's daughter said that she came here with 3 of her girlfriends and they ate almost 80 plates of food in one sitting! At the end of the meal, the waiter counts up the plates and charges you based on what you ate.
On our way out the door, we stopped and picked up some trinkets, the equivalent of Happy Meal toys. I will award one of these as a prize to the first person that can answer the following question: "What is the brand name of the 'formerly' racist toothpaste from Taiwan?" (hint: you won't find the answer on my blog page)
Post your answer as a comment on this post and I will get you your prize when I get back home!