1/27/09 As I was enjoying the meal with Mom, Dad, Siu-Wan and Edward, the phone rang, and it was my cousin Jane looking for me!
I curiously took the phone from Mom and Jane told me that Aunt Shirley just called her and was wondering if I would be free to visit the hot spring in Beitou with Jane and herself. Well, would I ever say no to a hot spring soak? We quickly said ok and agreed to meet at the Shin-Beitou MRT station in 1.5 hours.
I knew I was in for a treat--but I didn't know it was a really special treat. Aunt Shirley picked Jane and I up at the Shin-Beitou MRT station, which is famous for its plentiful hot spring spas and resorts nearby. We drove up this little hill, arrived at a nondescript entrance. Two valet men greeted us. A cement block was before us. It read "32".
This was the renown Villa 32, one of the most reputable and luxurious hot spring spas not only in Beitou, but in the country and maybe even in all of Asia. Most recently it was named one of the six most romantic escapes in Asia by an international travel magazine. I had wanted to come here but haven't had the chance to. I thought our very elegant Aunt Shirley in her usual resourceful way has gotten some discount coupons or sorts for this special visit today. It turned out that she JUST wanted to come and she JUST wanted us to come with her. It's Aunt Shirley's New Year treat for Jane and I. Well, with pleasure, how could I possibly think of turning her down!!??
Even though it was dark, we started snatching pictures the moment we stepped into the door. The front garden was beautifully landscaped and we could see the mist of hot spring water even in the dark. The welcoming lighting in the reception building beckoned us and we slowly walked into it, admiring the beautiful and peaceful surroundings. We had to stop the photography as soon as we were exiting the reception area. As what was before us were the general public spa area, which means we were disrobing and there would be no more pictures! It's a shame really because the general spa was really, really, really pretty to look at. Thankfully the Villa's website has photos of the interior--Sans the naked poeple.
Aunt Shirley, Jane and myself first enjoyed a long and relaxing shower while trying out all the very luxurious bathing products at the shower. Then, we entered the zen-influenced garden spa where various pools of different types of hot springs awaited us. We soaked and drank mineral water, chatted and relaxed, watched the nearby sulpheric valley with fuming mist from the varendah which disguised and shielded us bathers cleverly from people walking about out there in the valley, while allowing us great vantage points of the very exotic volcanic landscape and views.
This was a cool evening and most ideal for hot spring visit. We took our time trying out every single pool out here in the vast garden, hardly seeing anyone else while we were in the spa. We knew there were others, but it's kind of interesting each pool was somewhat hidden from the other pools, and bathers sort of have this pact of not engaging in coversations or at times not even any eye contacts or polite knodding. It's kind of a move-on-as-others-come arrangement understood by everyone. Of course thank goodness there were no frequent movers. Everyone was taking in the hot spring pool of their choice at a slow and leisurely pace, before moving on to another pool.
After several hours(!!) we decided it was time to take a break from the hot water and move on to some beverage and refreshments. Hot spring tends to make one hungry, that's for sure!!
We wandered up to the 2nd floor of the spa building, where we found a quiet and nicely decorated relaxation room and some sleeping rooms. In the lounge area there's a huge huge huge flat screen TV, and many choices of tea, coffee, and magazines. We all sat down and tried out different beverages while reading the latest magazines, but it's hard to really do any kind of reading, even light reading such as that of a fashion magazine--I was in such a state of complete relaxation I found that I could barely even focus with my eyes open!! Thank goodness Aunt Shirley was the one to drive, ha. The service was impeccable and extremely friendly, by the way.
Finally, it was time to go...Jane, myself and Aunt Shirley reluctantly made our way out. The car was already waiting for us outside--too soon of an exit from a dreamy night at the hot spring at Villa 32!
I could see Aunt Shirley flashing her signature smile on the way home...who can resist smiling after such a great visit to such an idyllic spot!