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【Guanziling Hot Springs】
The Guanziling Hot Spring area was the first developed around the turn of the 19th century. It is said that the springs were discovered at that time by Japanese troops stationed in Chiayi. The first hot spring inn, Yoshidaya (now the Reikei Hot Spring Resort), opened in 1902 and quickly thereafter the area became known for its rare mud springs. Even the crown prince and other members of the Japanese nobility counted Guanziling among their favorite hot spring sites.
After a period of decline, Guanziling has regained its prominent place on Taiwan's hot spring map in recent years. Today there are plenty of different types of hot spring spas here to choose from.
The hot springs at Guanziling are fed by turbid mineral-rich water that is said to enhance both beauty and health. A number of large-scale hot spring spas have opened here in recent years to cater to the growing ranks of hot spring bathers. Apart from the springs, visitors can head to the lotus farms in nearby Baihe District, further adding to the allure of this popular destination.
During the midsummer period, Baihe District is blanketed by fields of white, yellow, blue, purple and pink lotus blooms. The blooms are the main attraction at the annual summer Baihe Lotus Festival. In addition to viewing the flowers, visitors can enjoy delicious lotus cuisine, presenting a feast for both the eyes and stomach.
Every part of the lotus can be eaten, including the root, leaves, flowers, seedpod, seeds, and even the white membrane and husks of the seeds. Delicious and highly nutritional, these ingredients are served up by local restaurants in a variety of lotus dishes, such as lotus seed congee, lotus seed sticky rice tamales, lotus chicken, lotus leaf ribs and lotus root tea.
【Baolai and Bulao Hot Springs】
The Baolai and Bulao Hot Springs are fed by clear water from Baolai and Bulao Valley in Liugui District at the western side of the Southern Cross-Island Highway. The road to the springs is lined with cliffs and passes through a majestic scenic landscape. Several new hot spring resorts have sprouted up here in recent years. Today there are more than 20 hot spring hotels in the Baolai area, most of them located along Zhongzheng Road and Xinbao Road in Baolai Village. In addition to room and cabin accommodations, most of the establishments here have spa and hydrotherapy facilities, hot spring pools, camping and barbecue areas, and other amenities.
Situated at the western end of the Southern Cross-Island Highway, Jiaxian District is home to dozens of shops selling all kinds of taro specialty items, such as taro ice, taro biscuits and taro rice cake. Visitors heading to Baolai for a hot spring bath should save time to stop here on the way to sample the local snacks.
Jiaxian Taro Rice Cake
Jiaxian is located on the Gaoping Plains between the Yu Mountain (Yushan) and Ali Mountain (Alishan) mountains. A combination of fertile soil and perfect temperature and climatic conditions has made this a well-known area for betel nut taro. Named for its betel nut shape, this type of taro has radiating red fiber, low water content, and high-quality starch, giving it a dense and substantial texture. A well-known shop here called "Syu Cai Ji's" uses the locally grown taro to make taro rice cakes. Taro ice and taro biscuits are other must-try treats here.
【Sichong River (Sichongxi) Hot Springs】
The Sichong River (Sichongxi) Hot Springs are located in the scenic mountains of Checheng Township, fed by a steady source of mineral-rich water from the foothills of Shimu Mountain. The springs were first discovered during the Guangxu period and by the early Republican period they were ranked among the four major hot springs in Taiwan along with the springs at Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan), Beitou and Guanziling.
Bathers can also enjoy the view of the Sichong River (Sichongxi) as it winds through the picturesque landscape, setting the perfect backdrop for a hot spring soak.
A popular summer retreat, Sichong River (Sichongxi) is also known for its red center duck eggs and delicious local cuisine made with organic produce, fresh river fish and shrimp, and hot spring vegetables.
Red Yolk Duck Eggs
The duck farmers in the Sichong River (Sichongxi) area commonly let their ducks free to forage for shellfish, shrimp and insects in the clear river water. Between the diet and running around, the free-range ducks are far healthier than their factory-farmed brethren. As a result, their eggs have an orangey-red yolk. Salted and preserved red yolk duck eggs have become a local specialty here, one you can buy from the numerous roadside shops in the area.