Hot Springs in the Taiwanese Mountains

30 March 2015


While living in China as an English teacher the very first thing my boss told me was not to talk about "the three t's"; Tibet, Tianamen Square, and Taiwan. Avoid these topics and anything too political and you'll get by in China just fine.

But that only stoked my curiosity. The island of Taiwan declared itself independent from mainland China over 60 years ago yet there was still this sense of animosity. Would I feel that in Taiwan as well?

Here in the mountains just 40 minutes outside of the capital of Taipei there was certainly no sense of trouble. In fact, everything was so magnificently relaxing I couldn't help but think, "this would be a lovely place to retire to."

Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan

The town itself if small and unassuming. There's one main street with gift shops and food stalls to cater to tourists and beyond that it's just a normal village. What's most striking about the town of Wulai, however, is the water. 

Immediately one is struck with the beautiful teal color which changes to various shades of misty blue or turquoise depending on the angle you look at it. There are several hotels which offer private spas which pipe this water into the bath but the locals simply walk down to the river to enjoy the natural hot  springs.

Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan

Just north of the main street you can experience the two other leading draws to the city of Wulai; the 250-foot waterfall and the Atayal aboriginal culture museum. I found this latter one to be most interesting because I'm a culture nerd and find things like this intriguing. 

It's funny to think that, even though Taiwan in now primarily Han Chinese, a significant number of aboriginals lived on this island for hundreds of years before the Han arrived from mainland China. Moreover it's believed that the aboriginals from Taiwan are the ancestors of Polynesian (such as Hawaiian) peoples. Observing the art and clothing I didn't see that much in common with Hawaiian culture but I could definitely sense something akin to the Maori culture. 

I stopped in one of the aboriginal shops and picked up some plum wine and it was superb!

Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan

I dedicated an entire day to Wulai which gave me plenty of time to meander the city and walk every little road. I enjoyed watching the mist roll across the mountains and sat in a local temple for a bit but finally came back to the main road to give the hot springs a try.

Needless to say, I was a bit intimidated. There were so many locals there as it was low season for tourism and I didn't want to look like a fool. Lucky for me, I very kind man who knew a little English came over and taught me the procedures. First one must rinse themselves off at the spigot and then pick the correct temperature pool. I almost got into one which he insisted would be too hot for me so he directed me over to a "kiddy pool", if you will, where other foreigners were soaking there feet. 

I couldn't help but smile at the kind man as he reminded me of my Hawaiians friends and how they'll stop tourists who try to surf spots that are too difficult for non-locals.

Wulai, Taiwan
Wulai, Taiwan



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