烏來 Wulai

By greenteapanda

October 30, 2008

Category: Travel

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Last weekend, I made my way to 烏來 (Wulai), south of Taipei. It takes about an hour on a bus, leaving from Xindian station at the end of the green line.  Wulai is an Atayal (an aborigine tribe in Taiwan) area famous for hot springs and scenery. Atayal statues were distributed throughout the area.
Not traditionally being a Han Chinese area, the foods available were different than elsewhere. It was difficult to translate the names of the foods I ate because they were so uncommon. Two of the more interesting ones I had in an Atayal restaurant:
On the left, an egg pancake with "magao" or spicebush added. Spicebush is kind of peppery, but much larger in diameter than peppercorns I have been accustomed to eating before. On the right, the most delicious dish I had in the restaurant, a stir-fry of what is sometimes called spleenwort. It is a fern, not a lettuce or cabbage plant, lending to its unique appearance.
 
Surprisingly, on the tourist street in town, there was an Indian restaurant advertising itself as halal and selling something that could well be called an Indian burrito. a piece of nan bread was used to wrap up curry paste and vegetables inside. A nice change from Taiwanese curries which are predominated by corn starch and not spice.
While some people go to Wulai just for the hot springs, I wanted to see what sorts of hiking I could do. Near the town, there are some easy, mostly paved (with rock) trails. Being Taiwan, the trails must have been overtaken by plants quickly, judging by the state of some of them.
For more money, I was able to take a cable car over the 雲仙 Waterfall to a resort with more trails. Round trip on the cable car unexpectedly only cost me 150NT. Most things in the day cost me less than the list price, without me even asking for discounts. It seems they want more visitors! Perhaps because of the typhoons recently, most of the trails were closed. I still found places to go though. To start, the falls and the cable car (including an old ad for the cable car, opened over 40 years ago):
 
Entering the resort itself, there was a pond that seemed to be mostly drained. Not sure if that has to do with the season or if it is that way to do some construction. To the side, another pond looked to be healthier, though most people bypassed it to play on some amusement rides.
I bypassed both the ponds and the amuseument rides to find further hiking trails. I only ran across two other people on the trails. Given that rains washed part of them away, it was challenging in sections. Even in regular sections, the trail was very slippery because of mist and moss growing on wood delineating the trail. It was truly a breath of fresh air compared to the air I normally breathe within Taipei.
Before I left the resort area, I did take part in some amusements. For free, fortune telling (if you know Chinese). You pull a stick from the basket, then find the hanging piece of bamboo with the accompanying number to find your fortune. For pay, a super-cheesy haunted house ride.
 
On my way out, I visited the Atayal Museum in town as well, but I could not take pictures inside of there. I found it interesting that they had a section on cannibalism and collecting skulls. It wasn’t made clear that practice actually ever stopped…
 
Leaving, a bridge at the edge of town:
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