Paul Theroux once wrote: "Only a fool blames his bad vacation on the rain." I agree, and similarly only fool can blame a bad weekend on the rain. Last weekend it rained buckets, but we were determined to enjoy the whole weekend and do exciting and fun things. Queenie was especially determined to ensure the weekend wasn't a bust and early on Saturday morning set about planning the day. The plan she came up with was brilliant. First we would visit the Taipei Art Museum. Next we would visit the wooden library in Hsin-Beitou and then end the day with a hot spring. It was the perfect plan, considering we also had our niece Charlene and Queenie's Mother going with us. The art museum was fun (see Photo Exhibit at Taipei Fine Arts Museum) and after a quick bite we jumped on the MRT and headed off to Hsin-Beitou
The library has been there for a few years but this is the first time we have visited it. The library is an aesthetic piece of wooden architecture built in a park next to the Beitou Hot Springs Museum (北投溫泉博物館). Queenie had seen the library on the television in the morning and decided we should take the trip up there. The library is fairly close to the Hsin-Beitou MRT station and is quite a remarkable building. I was duly surprised. The bulding facade at least was all made of wood (inside and out). There were a lot of windows and hence a lot of natural light pouring into the museum. The view outside was of the garden with lots of greenery. Of course most of the desks were occupied with very hard working students who are (I suppose) preparing for their exams.
As mentioned, the view outside the library was of the park and there was a lot of greenery. And what was especially great was that they had tables and chairs outside the library too where people could sit, relax and read books. I couldn't think of anything better to do on a lazy afternoon than sitting down and reading some books in that environment.
In the basement of the library is a decent size childrens section with all manner of children's books. Charlene really had a great time down there choosing different books and changing chairs. She had a great time. One of her favorite books turned out to be a kangaroo book. Who knows why?
There was also a decent collection of English books. I found myself quite surprised reading a biography of Nikita Khruschev in such a place. There was also a decent collection of English Journals in the library too and they seemed fairly up to date. So it would be a good place just to sit and read the latest journals for an hour or two.
The Flute Player
After a couple of hours in the library we took a walk around the Hot Springs Museum and took a short rest in the shelter outside the museum. There was an old man there who was playing the flute. He told us he had been playing the flute for 50 years. He had been featured in some of the local Chinese newspapers and had produced a CD. We should have bought one but it never crossed our mind. He said playing the flute was good for his health and also helped make you think clearly. He also advised me not to argue with Queenie but to listen to her and do as she says. That gave me a good laugh. He was kind enough to play a couple of tunes for Charlene and she absolutely loved it and tried to clap along.
Playing us a couple of Tunes
He was a grand old man. He had a lot of patience and kindness for children and he enjoyed chatting with us and Queenie's mom. I hope we can get back there soon to buy his CD. It will be worth it.
Ketagalan Culture Center (凱達格蘭文化館)
After leaving the flute player we headed down the hill back into the center of Hsin-Beitou to get a bite to eat. As we were passing the Ketagalan Culture Center (凱達格蘭文化館) we were stopped by some aboriginal ladies who invited us in to watch a dance. We were there at the right time. It was 3:00pm and the dance was just starting. The dance we saw was a traditional dance of the A-Mei people. Being from Africa I thought the dance was really passive compared to the Zulu dances I have seen before. The Maori dances in New Zealand were also far more aggressive. I don't think these were ward dances but they were still fairly passive. Nonetheless, they were pretty good and it was fun to watch.
Hot Spring Resort
After a quick bite to eat we headed off to the Sweetme Hot Springs Resort. The room on the 11th floor with fantastic views was only NTD2,000 for 2.5 hours. We thought it was pretty good. The hotel lobby and corridors had elegant lighting and very soothing and relaxing music being played throughout the public areas of the resort.
The room itself was very comfortable and the view of the cloud capped mountains made it all the more relaxing. Queenie, her Mom. Charlene and Myself all had a great time and found the whole experience to be very relaxing.
The End of the Day
After two hours in the relaxing hot spring, it was time to leave. It was a fantastic day by all. We took a slow walk to the MRT, jumped on the train and were home an hour later. Charlene and Lu Mama headed off to their house and we got ready to go to the Brass Monkey for the Super 14 finals, which the Bulls won. Surprisingly most of the day was free. The art museum, the library, the flute player and the dancing was all free. The hot spring was a bit of money but we needed to relax and since the rest of it was free, we didn't really mind too much. It was a pretty good day considering the rain.
More pictures @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/durbanbay/sets/72157624049422833/