When I was in Taiwan, J and I decided to check out a gay spa hot springs. Think of it as more like a Japanese bath rather than a spa. We found out there were 2 in the Beitou area and we picked one called Emperor Spa (also called Huang Chi Spa). Before we went in, we took a quick walk around and the Japanese influence was quiet noticeable and charming.
After we paid the admission ($250 NTD per person) and we stopped by the restaurant to reserve a table for dinner afterwards. Once we entered the locker room, we had to place our shoes on the shelves first. The lockers were coin operated and the fee was $20.
The change room wasn’t as nice or as big as the one we went to last year. Mind you, that one was in a hotel. Once I stripped down (yeah, you can’t be too shy here), I went to look for the showers or bathing area. I walked past a massage room and onto to the outdoor pools. Just to my left were 8 showers. The showers and pools were all outdoors. After we showered, we hopped into a hot pool and it took awhile to get used to the temperature. There was an occasional drizzle which helped. After a few minutes, I was able to relax and enjoyed the trees and plants that over looked the pool. When it got too warm, I sat on the edge to cool off and hopped back in when I cooled off. The water here also has a stronger sulfur content which apparently is good for the skin.
Eventually I got thirsty and looked for a water fountain but couldn’t find one. Then I noticed a lot of guys had their own water bottles. I went back to the locker room to see if there was a water fountain but couldn’t find one. I went to the washroom to splash some cold water on my face and took a sip of the tap water.
By then, J had hopped into another pool so I joined him there. He warned me this was the cold water pool. I got in and it took my breath away. There were 3 or 4 people in this small pool. The water was above my knee but below my waist and my junk was just hanging out there there. I wanted to sit down but it was just too cold. So I hopped out and got into another hot pool.
This pool had 3 sections and I was in the cooler one (41 C). By then it started to drizzle more and it was a nice sensation sitting in the warm water with a bit of rain dripping down. By then, there were more people coming in. The pool I was in wasn’t jammed pack but it was getting full. I didn’t try the other 2 sections.
There was another hot pool which had jets of water and some people stood underneath them to get a massage. There was also another very shallow pool that wasn’t even ankle deep. People were lying down and napping. I didn’t go into the steam room because the pool was hot enough. By the time I wanted to leave it was getting more crowded. There was a line up to use the showers so people stood around waiting for a free one.
After showering, I went to change and the locker room was pretty busy. I noticed that some people didn’t have lockers so they just left their clothes on top of the lockers because there weren’t any free lockers. Once I got out, I purchased a bottle of cold water and rehydrated myself. After J came out, we went to the restaurant and had a huge bowl of abalone congee. It was very tasty and the abalone was tender.
The place we went to was called Emperor Spa or Huang Chi Spa. While it shows up in gay sites, it wasn’t an exclusive gay spa. I’m pretty sure there was a separate women’s spa. My guess is that 90% of the guys were gay. J disputes this and he thought it was a lot less. There were also some straight guys there and there were even some children. There were the usual elderly guys who seem to have season tickets to these spas. There were quite a few bears and there were also twinks and eye candies (for those of you who were curious). Some guys were a bit shy and walked around with their hands covering their junk or with small towels. While I’m comfortable showering in a gym, I felt a bit self conscious at the beginning walking around butt naked with so many guys around. But after awhile I didn’t really care. It’s not like people were staring and drooling at me.
To get to the spa, we took the MRT to Shipai station and got a taxi. We had the Chinese name and address which helped. When I left, I noticed there were towels and water being sold near the front desk. But most people brought their own. There are also private pools in this spa which we didn’t try. The public pool is open 24 hrs. The other spa is called Kawayu and it’s just steps away.
On the way back to the MRT, we hopped on a the spa’s van that took us to the parking lot up the hill. From there, we walked to the road and caught a bus (#508) that took as back to the MRT.
Overall, it was a pretty good experience.