– By Passionfruit
Taking a “forest bath” is a leisurely visit to a forest, aka Forest Medicine
When you live in a city with 2.7 million neighbors, getting out in the woods is literally a breath of fresh air and a mental reset. My friend Allison dropped this forest bathing phrase while hiking one day and I loved it because that’s exactly what it felt like. I then came to realize it’s a real thing over here in Asia and there are words for Forest Bathing in Japanese (Shinrin-yoku), Mandarin (Sēnlínyù) and Korean (Sanlimyok).
The practice of “forest bathing trips” were first proposed by the Japanese in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan. While in the woods, you breath in aromatic volatile substances, called phytoncides. In latin, the word means “exterminated by the plant”. I always felt rejuvenated being in the woods and parks and now I know why!
Pickles and I got a dose of Forest Medicine in Baxianshan National Forest near the town of Guguan, which is known for their hot springs. It was too hot for us to indulge in hot springs, so we went forest bathing hiking (which was equally hot and sweaty) and then checked out the Kiss Fish. Smooch, smooch!
Relaxing and Peaceful
Hiking in Taiwan looks like this
We thought we were hot & tired
These guys were each hauling 4 railroad ties uphill. The trail systems are built by hand because the terrain is so steep and wild for any machinery.
Guguan’s Park and Kiss Fish
A beautiful and quiet park in the center of town, that offers a free kiss fish experience.
Kiss Fish make grown men giggle like a tickled 5 year old
Foot exfoliation via fish kissing is a must try. It tickles and Pickles could not stop giggling, which cracked me up. The locals got a kick out of this too. This is a sweet little gem of an experience, nestled in Guguan’s public park.
The beautiful Atayal people
In 2014, the Atayal tribe numbered 85,888. This was approx. 16.9% of Taiwan’s total indigenous population, making them the third-largest tribal group. Source: wiki.
We often say, “You can see the water, but you can’t touch it”. River access is challenging or simply not possible due to ravines or the jungle environment. We were stoked to find river access on our way home!