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Eastern Taiwan not only offers pleasant scenery but is also rich in hot-spring resources. Among the best known of the hot springs here are those of Zhiben, Wulu, and Green Island in Taitung County, and Antong, Ruisui, Hongye, and Wenshan in Hualien County.
The Ruisui hot springs were discovered as early as 1919, and public baths were then built. The Japanese-style hotel that operated at that time is still in operation, and it has developed an outdoor bathing pool so that travelers can savor the pleasure of hot-spring bathing in the open. The spring water here is rich in iron and emerges from the ground at a temperature of 48 degrees Celsius; the iron in the water oxidizes when it comes into contact with the air, imparting a pale brown color and a slightly salty, rusty flavor. These are the only carbonate hot springs on the entire island. Many new visitors hesitate to bathe in the water, erroneously believing it to be unclean; in fact, Japanese travelers who understand the effects of the spring water here come especially to soak in the water with salt crystals floating on its surface. The latest medical research shows that the PH factor of this carbonate spring water is between 6 and 7, making it slightly alkaline.
Besides bathing in hot mineral spring water, when you come to Ruisui you can also enjoy numerous other tourist sites in the area. In the densely wooded Chinan Forest Recreation Area, you can go to the memorial stele pavilion to look out over the beautiful scenery of Liyu Lake. Other nearby attractions include the visitor center, trails through primeval forests, and children's playground, providing visitors with a wide variety of recreational activities.
The Fuyuan National Forest Recreation Area has the largest camphor trees of any such recreation area in Taiwan, and its butterflies, hot springs, and waterfalls are especially well known. Stroll along a trail here and you can enjoy a healthful "green shower." From March to August every year the butterflies swarm and dance among the broadleaf forests, presenting a palette of beautiful colors. The bed of the Fuyuan River, which transects the entire recreation area, is filled with strange rocks and intermittent hot springs. The scenery is unique. Go up the river and you will come to a gorge where precipitous cliffs have created flying waterfalls that are popular attractions for tourists.
If you are a tea connoisseur, you can go to the Wuhe Tea Plantation and enjoy the tea farming sights there. If you prefer sea-eroded landscapes, you can go on to the Stone Umbrella, Terrace of the Three Immortals (Sanxiantai), and Little Yeliu on the eastern coast.