Xinbei, Taiwan

Photo: Volando Taipei Urai Spring Spa & Resort
Photo: Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort

You can’t handle Taipei yet. Sure, you flew halfway around the world to eat, visit temples, eat, check out the nightlife, and eat, but your senses just can’t take in the bright lights, the crowded streets, and the whirlwind speed yet. You need to sleep and feel like you’re in the correct time zone first. You need to escape the city.

Ride the MRT (the Taipei Metro) to Xindian Station, the last stop on the Xindian Line. A shuttle bus is waiting near the taxi stop. It heads south, following the curves of the Nanshi River. Tall buildings give way to green mountains and steep cliffs. Chirping birds and sweet-smelling flowers replace honking horns and smog almost immediately. It’s suddenly cooler and easier to breathe. Though you’re not that far outside of the capital, it feels like you’re in a remote and distant land.

Eventually, you reach the Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort. The small resort was built into the hillside and blends in with its surroundings. You’re welcomed with the sounds of nature: rushing water, rustling tree branches, and more chirping birds. The resort itself stands silent. The staff offers friendly smiles and warm tea instead of words. Small children simply aren’t allowed. While the bathhouses are calm oases.

Photo: Volando Taipei Urai Spring Spa & Resort
Photo: Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort

Your first stop is your room. The decor is elegant and minimal with wood and cream. A wispy canopy hangs over the bed. The huge window overlooks the river’s turquoise water. Plus hot and cold water is piped into your in-room hot spring from the hillside. That’s right, your in-room hot spring. The slate gray bathroom has a hot soaking tub and a cool shower. You quickly strip down, lower yourself into the square tub, close your eyes, and breathe in the hot steam.

You planned to watch a sundown life ceremony by the infinity pool, listen to a taiko (drum) beat after dark, and eat food that looks like art at Volando ABU after your soak. But you don’t make it beyond your room on your first night. Instead, you fall into such a deep sleep that you don’t even hear the soft knock on the door when your midnight snack arrives. Everything can wait.

By the time you wake up, the sun is shining and a dragonfly is hovering outside of your window. Eat porridge for breakfast as you stare out the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lakeside restaurant. Feel the cool breeze and listen to the trickling water at the public hot springs. Sip cool scented tea, relax with a rose facial mask, and take a physical and mental balancing class at the Dasha Spa. Then hike to the nearby Wulai Waterfall to see the source of your relaxation. You’ll get to Taipei at some point.

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