The familiar looking Keelung sign in the hills taken from our stateroom balcony
We began our day with a quick breakfast in the buffet and then met in one of the lounges to be designated to our tour group and get our identifying sticker - pink 6. After a short wait we were shepherded out to the awaiting tour busses. Our guide, Helen was a very funny Taiwanese lady who loved to use phases from well known songs and always ended every sentence with a drawled "Yeeaahhh". You'll have to ask Lisa to put on her Chinese lady voice and mimic her when we get home. Helen gave us the usual tour guide info on Taiwan as we travelled. Apparently it rains in Taiwan about 235 days a year and this was one of them.
One interesting thing we learned along the way was about many peoples addiction to 'beetle nuts'. Apparently these nuts are very addictive (I'm not sure what the active drug is in them) and are sold legally in little shops scattered everywhere thought the island. The price fluctuates depending on the season and availability of the nuts. The shops are designated by green fluorescent lights and always staffed by, in Helen's words, 'hot young girls'. We passed many as we drove by on our way but unfortunately were not able to get any pictures as the bus was always moving too fast and the windows were fogged up because of the winging American oldies who thought they would die from pneumonia if the bus air-conditioning was actually used to defrost the fogged up windows. Anyway, with my glimpses I can assure you all that the girls were young and in fact did appear to look 'hot'. I'm not sure how addictive this nut actually is if it needs pretty girls to sell it!
Just some background information…
Our dinner table mates are a lovely Canadian couple (Robert and Pam) and their son (Griffin). They boarded the ship for the cruise before ours which was originally planned to depart from Japan but changed to a Hong Kong Departure. As a consequence, they have already been to a few of the ports we are visiting on this cruise (the Shanghai - Singapore leg). I tell you this because they have been giving us a few tips as to what to do at the ports. We had initially booked a walking tour of a small town but changed the tour when we spoke to an Aussie crew member in the ship gift shop. When our table mates said how much they enjoyed the tour we had changed to we knew we were on a good thing.
Back to the tour.
Our first destination was a hotel located within a National Park about 30 minutes drive from Keelung to visit its volcanic hot springs. The hotel also has a day spa, so on arrival, armed with the inside info from Robert and Pam we headed straight to the day spa and had a massage together (my first ever). Initially we chose the 40 minute option but when that was complete the lady doing my massage said "Mister, Mister" and held up the price list pointing to the 80 minute option and asked "Yes?" (I suspect she already knew my reply). So 80 minutes it was. She obviously had me picked as the weakest link.
When the wonderful massages came to an end we made our way out side in the rain and mist (which made the experience quite surreal) to find the hot springs. There are about 14 different hot springs of varying temperatures. There is a faint smell of sulphur but not overwhelming and certainly not unpleasant. The springs were so relaxing and the best part was that nearly everyone else had spent their time in the springs and had left us to ourselves. We tried a few of the different springs and ended up settling for different one based on our temperature preferences - Lisa (warm), Kieran (Hot). I also chose the undercover springs so as not to be in the cold rain and exacerbate my man flu.
Kieran in the 'hottest' hot spring.
Lisa in her favourite hot spring of the day.
Some of the different springs
We discovered one of the ponds contained fish that liked to eat the dead skin off our feet so we sat at that pond for a while. Lisa sat and squealed as the fish tickled her feet with their sucking while I headed back for the undercover springs. After an hour or so in the springs we headed back inside and changed to eat a very nice Taiwanese buffet lunch.
More different springs, Lisa in the white towel in the background feeding the fish with her feet.
Fish feasting on Lisa's dead skin.
Our next destination was Yehliu Geographic Park - an amazing coastal area with eroded rocks and beautiful scenery - the photo's don't really do it justice. We walked in the rain and got soaked but still had a great time. We quickly walked through the local markets before heading home via a quick stop at a giant Buddah. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Yehliu Geographic Park
Yehliu Geographic Park
Dried fish bits or something?!?
Lisa with the worlds largest prawn cracker. We ended up buying the plain ones.
A big Buddah overlooking Keelung.
A temple behind the big Buddah.
Lisa ringing the Millennium Bell near the Buddah.
All in all a fantastic day. Had a great time together. So glad I didn't succumb to the man flu and stay in bed. We arrived back to the ship to find Anisa feeling much better and watching movies in our bed.