Love Hotel Etiquette

The short stretch of light rail that stretches between the Peitou and Hsin Peitou Stations is an anomaly.  Since it is not even long enough for the train to get up any speed and connects Peitou to a neighborhood that isn't populated enough to really warrant its own station, one tends to wonder just why this strange little appendage exists.  Suspicious souls might suspect that the ugly specter of political pork barreling in the extreme reared its head mightily in its construction, but such cynicism should be quickly dispelled by the realization that this amazingly expensive stretch of rail exists for one purpose alone – to make it that much more convenient for you, personally, to get to Hsin Peitou – Hot Spring Love Hotel Capital of the World.

A few hours at one of these places will set you back between 400 and 800 NT (the “take a rest rate”), and an evening will cost you and a loved one between 1200 and 2300.  A word of advice: go on a weeknight for the discounts, and spend the extra money; while the difference in price between the cheap and the chic may be an hour or two of pay, it'll be worth it just to see the look on your loved one's face upon seeing the 21-inch stereophonic TV and a natural hot-spring fed Jacuzzi big enough to float a small fishing boat.  And nothing says class like his-and-her individually wrapped toothpicks.

The hot spring love hotels of Hsin Peitou are your home away from home, except you won't have to clean up, and, unlike your nosy neighbors, the desk clerk will not judge you as you leave in the morning after a night of loving debauchery with the him, her or combination thereof of your choice.  The facilitation of your enjoyment is all that concerns them, and the strange, crooked smiles on their customers’ faces are the only thanks they require.  This leaves you free to shed your inhibitions to the fullest extent allowed by the law and/or your personal dogma.

Losing one’s inhibitions is easier said than done (except when drunk, when the opposite is often true).  As I walked out of one after a particularly decadent evening, I found myself wondering, "What will the cleaning lady think of the half eaten chunks of Laughing Cow Cheese scattered around the bed? Will the manager be informed about the quantity of cheap supermarket caviar floating in the Jacuzzi?" In my naiveté, I actually initiated conversation with the cleaning lady on the way to the elevator, to apologize for the extreme untidiness with which she was about to deal.

“Oh, na-li, na-li!” she laughed. “Our only concern is that you had a good time.  Leave the mess to us, and come back again soon.”  A far cry indeed from the words spoken by my parents the morning after my last sleepover party.

Of course, there are other activities available in Hsin Peitou for those disinclined to debauchery.  There are several public hot springs in and around the oddly named Anti-Calamity Park directly across from the station, and nestled as it is in the armpit of beautiful Yaming Mountain, Hsin Peitou is an excellent point from which to start any number of hikes.  Several of the bigger hotels in the neighborhood also offer both public and private hot springs, separated by gender or for the exclusive use of the paying customer and guest.  There is also a long-standing rumor that some of these seedier places will, for a fee, provide a bathing companion for the undiscriminating gentleman, but I'd advise against that.  Love, like advice, is best appreciated when freely given.