Welcome to Wulai, a small mountain village just south of Taipei (is it weird that this photo makes me nostalgic for Venice???). The term Wulai means hot spring water, which I think sums up the town's appeal pretty well. Wulai is bursting with waterfalls and rivers and blue-green wading pools. Basically, water, water everywhere! So I guess it was fitting that the entire time I was in Wulai, I was soaking wet. First from sweat and then from
falling into enjoying the river!
There are a few (really fun) options for getting around this small village. The first is this bizarre blue train. It runs from Wulai's old market street to the base of the gondola. It is 50NT, which is less than 2USD. Confession: on the way back down, we walked from the base of the gondola down to the market, and we beat the train. So yeah, it moves very slowly. However, why not hop on the cute little train?
The second really amusing (and slightly scary) method of getting around Wulai is the gondola. After our disastrous gondola experience in New Zealand, I told everyone that I was never going on a gondola again. And I thought I meant it. But then I saw this adorable one and just had to go on it! The views from the top are spectacular, especially on a (sorta) clear day like we had. Green mountain tops and valleys stretched as far as the eye could see, or until a cloud wafted over them.
At the top of the gondola, visitors have two choices. One, buy an ice cream and take the gondola back down. Or, instead, buy an ice cream and then hike up and up and up and up the mountainside in Taiwan's extreme summertime heat and humidity, all the while becoming your own kind of waterfall (of the sweat variety).
That's what we did!
Up the mountain side, we followed the river that fed the Wulai falls and found even more waterfalls. We also definitely stopped to wade into the river pools, which were actually cool to the touch and felt so refreshing. After having our fill of the heat, we decided to head back down and poke around the old street market. It reminded me a lot of Juifen and other Taiwanese street markets, but it was fun to look at all the goodies and buy an ice tea.
Before leaving Wulai, Sean really wanted to go for a swim in the river. I was skeptical at first, but then took an accidental swim when I fell into the river after slipping off of a slimy rock. I was really happy to discover that there was hardly any current at all and the water was just as refreshing as the wading pools. Although, I was not completely thrilled about having to ride the bus all the way back to Taipei and then meet a friend for dinner in wet clothes, especially because the way I fell made it look like I peed my pants.
All in all, Wulai was great fun and a photographer's delight. We plan on heading back up to check out the hot springs once the heat cools off a bit.
Travel Tip: Getting to Wulai is easy enough from Taipei. From the Xindian MRT station, which is the last stop on line 3, exit the station and hop on bus 849 (the stop is literally behind the information counter). Wulai is the very last stop along 849's route, so you can just sit back and enjoy the drive through the mountains!
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