Monday, August 11, 2014

Wulai (烏來) - The Old Street and the Hot Spring @ New Taipei [Taiwan]

Given that i am not an absolute fan of hot spring, it's kind of weird to have planned for a trip to Wulai when time wasn't in our favour. That said, we didn't regret our choice and managed to have fun in spite of the hotter weather. 

Getting to Wulai wasn't as complicated as i thought it would be; take bus 849 from Xindian MRT station and the journey would take approximately thirty minutes. The last stop is Wulai; so take the time to have a short snooze or enjoy the scenery of surrounding mountains and hills! 

Look across the emerald green river and you would see people in swim suits soaking in stone tubs by the river bank. That would be the free hot spring public bath! More on that later.

Get your bearings from the tourist map panel at the sheltered bus stop. 

If not, you could always follow the directions of those passengers who disembarked together with you as most of them are there for the same purpose as you and your companions.

Cross the bridge that had aboriginal patterns and you shall reach the first attraction in Wulai; the much acclaimed Wulai Old Street. 

Before that, check out the picture-perfect scenery at the bridge! 

It was barely 10am when we arrived and most shops remained closed. There were quite a number of hot spring hotels where you can stay for the night and i would definitely plan for one in the future! 

Food aside, there were quite a number of touristy shops selling souvenirs related to the aborigines. I have cut down on buying souvenirs nowadays (unless they are unique / useful) as i noticed that many people would just throw it aside.

Eggs!!! We didn't have any breakfast and i guess eggs would do! It's hard to make a decision when there were different types like hot spring eggs, osmanthus eggs, eggs in wine, eggs on stone etc.

Eventually decided on the hot spring egg since i didn't have to peel off the shell. Well, nothing spectacular and obviously could not be compared to my favourite tea leaves egg.

We could have had a decent meal but the mere thought of having fresh, healthy vegetables for breakfast wasn't exactly welcomed although i believe the restaurant does serve meat based dishes too. 

Fresh guava and other preserved fruits. Personally, i seldom try food that was raw / uncooked as i have the urgent tendency to clear my bowels whenever they don't agree with them. 

Along the old street, to your right, was an Atayal museum where you can get educational information on the third largest group of aborigines in Taiwan. Admission was free and you may check out my blog post here for the details!!

A grouchy dog; bet he wasn't pleased with his haircut! Haha.

Cross another similarly designed bridge and you would come to a T-junction where a decision has to be made (applicable only if you have the intention to visit Wulai Waterfall and / or Yun Hsien Amusement Park & Resort). 

You can choose to take the mine tram or you can make full use of your two legs to walk the 1.6 kilometers. The decision is yours and in our case, it didn't take us long to decide that our feet needed the rest.

There were way too many photographs and i have already created separate postings on the train ride, Wulai Waterfall, Yun Hsien Amusement Park & Resort and the gondola ride. To read further, click the hyperlinks! 

Fast forward to a few hours later when we were back at the T-junction facing the Wulai Old Street. Wait, we should now explore the public hot spring baths! Access was via a road to our left. Look out for the above staircase with the hot spring symbol.

Take the staircase and you would reach the river bank in no time!

Guess directions would not be needed as it would be very easy to identify the group of bathers! The weather was in fact pretty hot that day and to see their relaxing faces was frustrating as we didn't bring along any extra clothing!!! 

The only thing we could do was to remove your shoes and soak our feet! 

Major regret; the water was scalding hot!!!!! A lady came by shortly to inform us that this 'pool' wasn't designated for feet soaking and pointed out another "pool" a short distance away. 

Although the water wasn't as hot, it was still torturous to soak our feet when the atmospheric temperature wasn't as cooling and as comforting as in the past few days.

It would be so much more enjoyable if i could just jump into the inviting river water, just like these two seniors!

There was even a platform built for the adventurous to jump right in! To get back, use the rope that was conveniently placed by the side! Damn damn damn, why didn't i bring an extra set of clothes....?

I did indicate earlier this post that i would consider staying a night in Wulai; one reason was because i needed the time to truly soak in the relaxing environment surrounded by mountains and river. 

Bloody, like this also can?! It's a makeshift sauna!!! By the way, the spring water in Wulai was clear without any smell and would appeal to those who could not stand the sulphuric odor associated with most spring water. 

Do note that you should not use soap or shampoo as the usage of chemical products (even if they are mild) would contaminate the natural spring water. 

Bring along a towel from your hotel!!! Alex remembered! Heng ah; if not, i would have to sun my feet under the sun before i could put on my shoes. 

Walking back to the bridge that would link up back to Wulai Old Street.

To our left would be the hot spring we just visited. 

To our right was the other section leading to Wulai Waterfall. I am surprised that the water level could go up so high; guess it might be the norm during typhoon season! *make a mental note to never ever visit Taiwan during the typhoon season*

At the same section, we noticed that there were people gallivanting by the river bank as well; i am unsure if there is any hot spring in the area but i would have preferred it for being less populated. 

The public hot spring was quite small and i understand (from wikipedia) that the weekend crowd could be quite massive; hence, do plan a weekday trip! 

Back to Wulai Old Street! Finally found the stall recommended for its wild boar sausage; 雅各 (last stall on the right if you walk from the bus stop)! The queue was said to be legendary on weekends! 

At NT$35 a stick, the sausage was much bigger than the conventional Taiwanese sausages we get in Singapore. So what was my verdict?!

Very juicy and none of the toughness usually associated with wild boar meat! Was it the best i had in Taiwan?! The answer is a surprisingly no! The one that remained memorable in my mind actually hailed from Shilin Night Market! Look out for my post on that soon! 

Unlike Shenkeng Old Street, Wulai's version was significantly more modern without much trace of its supposed history. Not that the facade mattered since the entire street was filled with many establishments selling authentic aboriginal delicacies! 

Thank god mum wasn't with me. The shopper in her would be quite keen to buy a few kilograms of naturally cultivated mushrooms and bring them back to Singapore!! 

Mongrel resting on the street.

Stall selling Indian prata and it was helmed by an Indian! From the display, i thought it was more similar to the Turkish kebab wrap. Strangely, we didn't have our lunch at Wulai although we did snack quite a bit.

For example, i could not resist buying the century egg from the above shop! One cost NT$20 and i didn't regret my purchase! 

The yolk was of the right consistency and the flavour was so rich and intense! This would have been perfect for rojak! 

These perfumed bottles enticed me to check out the pottery shop and you wouldn't believe it; we stayed for almost thirty minutes because we could not decide if we should go ahead to buy an item that caught our attention. 

A pair of limited edition pottery cups that cost us NT$1,000! Made annually based on the zodiac animal for that year, we were so taken aback by how cute the pigs were; we eventually opted to dish out our money and purchased them as a present for my tea-drinking parents! 

Would love to stay longer and check out other shops (and play with the dogs) but we had to get back to Taipei to buy the renowned pineapple cakes for our family and friends... 

Sigh... was supposed to explore the tourist bridge too. :( 

Time to board the bus!

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Map
As above.


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

8 comments:

  1. Hi, chanced upon your blog and find it really very useful! Can i find out more from you about Wu Lai and the day trip to Wu Lai?? Planning for a last min trip to taipei 4 days next week... :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure! You can send me an email (a6729@singnet.com). For 4 days, i personally thought it would be quite a rush!

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  2. I'm so happy to chance upon your blog. Its really awesome! These information will come in handy for my trip 2 weeks away. Thank you for your selfish sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment! Selfish sharing!?!!?

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  3. I enjoyed your blog immersely. Thank you so much for sharing. . cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks once again! Share with your friends if you find the postings helpful! :)

      Delete
  4. Thank you so much for this post. It's very very helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are most welcome, Joycelin! :)

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