I talked Colin into skipping class with me on Wednesday. We’d made plans to go up to Yangmingshan to see the cherry and plum blossom trees that afternoon, but on Tuesday we agreed we didn’t really need to go to class at all. Just like senior ditch day!
After a lazy sort of morning, we made our way to the bus. The winding mountain roads and rocking bus brought me just to the brink of nauseas before letting us off.
It’s the very end of the season, and I’m afraid we were even a bit too late. The light pink cherry blossoms had all but disappeared, and the lateness of the season was showing on the brilliantly pink plum blossom trees too.
We had a very pleasant lunch (until a caterpillar mistook Colin for a leaf and tried to eat him) in Yangmingshan Park—peanut-butter-banana-raisin-cinnamon sandwiches, pita chips, fruit, and MnMs. Tastes like elementary school and I love it.
Colin wanted to walk to 冷水坑, the free public hot spring on Yangmingshan, and I was agreeable about doing so until it became clear it wasn’t going to be a quick walk. Rather than risk a disagreeable mood, I asked that we hop onto the bus instead.
It wound through a part of the park completely different from the manicured plum blossom trees we’d lunched under and the towering rain forests we’d briefly walked under. The volcanic activity on this side of the mountain meant low-lying scrubby bushes and grass. A thick and sudden fog mixed with the sulfur pumping out of the ground and rendered my skirt and tank-top down-right inappropriate.
The bus left us at the entrance to the hot spring. Yelps and the smacking of loose flesh could be heard through the bamboo that fenced off an outdoor area for the women. Colin and I hurriedly arranged a meeting time and parted into our respective sex-segregated pools.
Two dozen stark naked sexagenarians turned as a young red head stumbled in. It was a dim, rustic-looking room with concrete walls, wooden cubbies and benches, and a pool of milky water spilling over a low edge. After a quick wash with a borrowed bar of soap, I slipped into the 104-degree water. A woman poked my tattoo with her finger and said, “Good,” giving me a thumbs-up and a small clap. The chattering of the women echoed off the walls creating a din too loud to think in, which was punctuated by the slapping of the women on the bamboo-enclosed patio. Slapping increases circulation.
Too quickly, though my skin was long since pink, it was time to get out and meet Colin. An over-crowded bus carried us back down the mountain and delivered us to the MRT.