Since I was banging away at the keyboard until early into the morning, I knew I never be able to wake up that early to see Tink and Yu even if it was for such a yearned for event as meeting my friend Mr Ling, that bird whisperer of Tsaoling.
So I got a man with a bow tie to shake me until I woken and actually placed both my feet on the ground before he left me to struggle to complete the rest of that process. I was worried that if that was not done that way, I would just rolled on back to sleep again.
How can I explain that to you folks. Of a guy in a bow tie coming to shake you gently on the shoulders when you are asleep until you wake up?
Let me begin by telling you of one of the institutions so unique in Taiwan that may be beyond my ability to describe. It is the places that are simply termed as SanWenNahs literally translated into 3 temperature places. A local explained to me many years before that it was the traditional bath houses of ancient China brought over to Taiwan and still maintained close to the manner as practised in the past. Some others said some Japanese influences crept into that during the times when Japan controlled Taiwan until the defeat of the Japanese after the 2nd World War.
Yet another pointed out that SanWenNah is a chinese attempt at trying to incorporate the sauna word into that name. If so, I felt that strange. Admittedly SWN do have saunas like that known in the Western world inside those establishment. But the area of the sauna may be less than one percent of the entire establishment. SWNs are so bizarre that I never would have stepped into one until the evening when a friend dragged me screaming and kicking to try one of them. I was an instant covert after I was shown and taken by the hand through the rituals. I, on my part, converted many unbelievers by the same method, dragging them screaming and kicking the way it was done to me.
Most unfortunately, SWNs are only for guys. My wife have been to SWNs for the ladies with wives/girlfriends of my friends and colleaques. From what she told me, those for ladies are a paradigm shift lower than those for guys.
Japaneses who have great pride in their hotsprings and spas came to try the SWNs in Taiwan and left speechless when they found how low their perceived high standards are below that of the SWNs here.
The golden period of SWNs was in the early 90s when you entered one and thought you were suddenly in paradise. Sad to say, standards have dropped so much that the current best saunas in Taipei is barely ranked 5 from a scale of 1 to 10 from those during that golden period with 1 as the best. The SWN in Chiayi is ranked 6 on that scale. The best in Taipei in current times are only as good as rank 4 against those in the golden period.
Even with the present low standards, the SWNs are far better than another that approximate them in Japan or Korea.
Even now, the most humble of SWNs are still luxuriously outfitted. That can always be done elsewhere in the world. But it is the scale and size that is done in Taiwan that is so breathtaking.
You get in the SWN to be warmly greeted and given a numbered bracelet. You are known only by that numbered bracelet after that point regardless of who you are. You then remove your shoes to be kept by attendents and then you go to the locker rooms where you remove every stitch to be kept in your locker with your key with that bracelet.
You then have a shower with the best toiletries provided, sitting on smooth granite stones to clean yourself thoroughly before going to the hot pools, saunas and swimming pools. I have been to those renowned hot springs Japan and spas of Baden Baden Germany. Out door hotsprings are of different standards altogether and not compared with.
But the wet areas of SWNs are more luxurious than those of Baden Baden. A lot laid back without the rules all over in the spas of BadenBaden with recommended times as to how long you remain in each pool. SWNs are for people to relax in with attendents all over serving and keeping the place sparking clean 24 hours. Alabaster, ornyx, blue granite, jadite, rough rocks are used in profusion in a wonderful blend of luxury. Swimming pools would be decorated with carvings of dragons and appeared to be part of Chinese ink paintings with mists following down. SWNs are used as meeting places with groups of friends here and there chatting away or maybe closing business deals.