Thursday, April 17, 2014

Taiwan Travelogue: Wulai Hot Springs (烏來)

Jade green waters with bridges over them, flowing over the gray rocky river bed with a white overcast swimming with the shades of green amidst the lush mountainous backdrop is a picturesque definition of what many would imagine to appear in a typical Chinese art drawing. The reality is not that far from the ideal picture as the above is the exact description of a little aboriginal town tucked away in a remote part away from the buzz of the city of Taipei.

Known for the breathtaking scenery from the colors of the spring and the mountains, Wulai(烏來) is no strange land to many attracted to its well-preserved nature and the unique nativity of her aboriginal inhabitants' culture; the Atayals. The Atayals were the ones who named this place; with their phrase in their local language of kirofu ulai, which translates to the terms 'hot and poisonous'.
However, the terms do not rightly justify the beauty and wonders of the place where the breathtaking scenes just weasel their way into the minds and settle there, leaving one with the memories to last a lifetime.

The charming little town which requires a 40 minute to an hour's bus ride from the Xindian MRT station (Bus No.849) draws crowds to its natural hot water springs; which is more superior in its quality as it is cleaner and unlike Beitou, it is also free of the odor from the sulphuric waters, making it an ideal place to enjoy a soak or a bath. The Atayals' term 'ulai' which slowly translated to Wulai, is synonymous with hot springs, and it is no wonder the place is filled with hot spring resorts.
There is also the option of enjoying the hot springs for free, following a designated path after crossing the bridge and walking up a little further where to the right there is a stairway leading to the river. Swimming wear is mandatory as this is an open area.

The scenic view of the river and peeks of the town can be enjoyed from the bus ride; which takes one on a zig zagging ride into the remotest parts of Taipei and offering captivating glimpses into the nature. Be prepared to be spellbound by the sights along the ride, especially when one is about to approach the town of Wulai, which happens to be the last stop.
The hues from the river is mesmerizing and keeps one in suspense as one waits with bated breath for more revelation of the flow at the end of the journey.
(The river could be better viewed with seats on the right of the bus).

Scenes from the bus ride:

The unmistakable red bridge over the tempting jade green waters with a temple in the background is the first scene to greet the excited visitors as one alights from the bus at the last stop.
This picture perfect scene is enough to capture one's attention of what Wulai has to offer in its spectacular opening scene upon arrival at its entrance (the bus stops at the station).

The enchanting colors of the water flowing in the river is enough to send the adrenalines pumping for the adventures and surprises awaiting visitors to this little town, which has kept her secrets well-guarded from the hustle bustle of development and modernization and by the looks of it, unperturbed by the commotion in the big world out there.

One just can't wait to jump into the waters, literally, for me, at least, as the waters are just so calm and flawless that they looked like they have emerged from a fantasy land which only exists in the fairytales.

This is a place where the tale is as old as time, and the song is as old as rhyme, and the tales are about to continue with the revelation of Wulai's treasures....stay tune...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taiwan Travelogue: Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf and Lovers' Bridge

Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf(淡水漁人碼頭) is located downstream across from the Tamsui town where one can enjoy a ferry ride to reach the location, and is an image of modern chic as compared to the memory lane down the Old Street of Tamsui.
Boardwalk, al fresco dining, modern coffee shops, and seafood restaurants are part of the residents in this part of the town and some of the prices here can be rather appalling to the locals themselves, though may turn to be appealing to some of the tourists.

It seemed that tourism has taken a toll on the town; and it is not surprising, since most of the faces in this part of the town are mostly from the touristy crowds, excited to explore the local attractions the place has to offer.

One of the major attractions and the main crowd puller is the Lovers' Bridge in the background as one approaches the pier.
The bridge's design is modeled after a ship's sailing mast; with its single tower cable span and at a glance, it did not seem much that it was made in relation to any notion of romance nor is it in any way a symbol. However, the bridge's unique feature is highlighted at night as it changes its colors in illuminating motion and is a favorite spot for couples/lovers.
The area is filled with chic restaurants and cafes, and is a major attraction for the young and hip generation.

The architecture of the bridge

Some of the interesting 'love messages' or notes spotted near the end of the Lovers' Bridge

A Lover's Bell?

One can choose to dine here, or just walk around and enjoy the breeze and the views of the wharf.
Of course, there is the ferry schedule to take note of, with the last boat departing back to the Tamsui town at 5.00pm.

Wherever you are in this part of the town, the Lover's Bridge is bound to take a place in the background of most of your photographs. After all, it is the main landmark to look out for here.
A final glimpse of the bridge as we depart back to the town.

A panoramic view

The best part is, the Sunset view which is just magnificent (I am a fan of sunsets and sunrises!:-)

The Fisherman's Wharf is mainly famed for its views of the wharf and the architectural bridge in the background with its element of romance, and of course, if you are into the seafood dining on the wharf. The other thing, though not less important would be the picturesque views of the sunset as it slowly renders its glow while retiring in the background.

It is no wonder that Tamsui is highly recommended for its sunset views, with an amazing cast of shadows from the sun on the waters, it is just picture perfect for sunset lovers!~