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...

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