Wild Taiwan

A lady of leisure writes about wildlife in Taiwan.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wulai 烏來 and Neidong 內洞

We wanted to kill two birds with one stone by staying overnight at Wulai one weekend. Not only did we experience hotspring bath at Wulai but we also managed to see the beautiful waterfalls at Neidong.
Wulai was hot in August and humid since it was a catchment made up of pristine forests and waterfalls. We took the xindian bus near Taipei main station and rode it all the way to Wulai which cost 70 NT per person. Most people would take the MRT to Xindian and board the bus from there but it would be very crowded. One would have to stand all the way as the bus sped through hill roads and one's balancing skill and jostling for hand holds would be severely tested.
Wulai in the Daya aboriginal language means hotspring. Legend recorded that two hundred years ago, a Daya hunter whilst hunting saw a stream with steam emitting out from it. When he went nearer, he realised it was hot and he yelled wulai! wulai! and that was how the name came about.

Although we were there on a weekend, it wasn't particularly crowded. We managed to book a room really last minute, like two days before. The inn that we stayed in was called 碧山閣飯店 http://www.greenhillspa.com.tw/. It was so so, no breakfast, staff were friendly and helpful. The room has a small hotspring pool that can squeeze in two people. The hot water came from the hotspring while the cold water was from the river. The hotspring in Wulai is unusual in that it's not smelly, basically odourless and clear. Because of this property, some hotspring inns used heated normal tap water instead of hotspring water. I don't quite see the point though. The hotspring would be hot and no heating required whereas heating up tap water would cost more I would have thought. Anyway, Wulai is not short of hotspring spa, every inch of buildable land is a hotspring inn or spa place. Some looked really grand and expensive.

We walked from the old street of Wulai down to the river for a picnic. There were lots of young people having a barbecue. This seems to be a favourite national past time. Where there's a river, you will find people having BBQ. The water was actually rather cool. Then we walked back to the road to the mini railway station and beyond to get a better view of the waterfall. It was hot and humid in early Sep. By the time we got to the one and only coffee shop opposite Naruwan hotel, we felt like we're suffering from sunstroke. It wasn't as if we didn't carry any water with us, the two of us finished 2 L of water just for that 2 h walk. Then we took a taxi to Neidong 內洞.

Most people may have heard of Wulai 烏來 http://visitnative.nat.gov.tw/aborigine/wulai/index.html but not Neidong 內洞 which loosely mean inner cave. It was also called wawagu 娃娃谷 previously. At Wulai you see waterfalls far away but at neidong, some are so close, you can feel the water spray.

To get there, we could either walk or take a taxi which costs 300 NT one way. The taxi driver told us that people will walk to Neidong at the crack of dawn to enjoy the fresh air and coolness.

We had walked from Wulai to Qingwagu Neidong 青蛙谷 and had we walked further and paid the entrance fees, we would have visited Neidong in the spring of 2002 when it was cooler.

There were many people in the park. We could see the first of four waterfalls across the river. The river water has a jade green colour. According to the taxi driver, he said the water is very pure and comes from Fushan mountains 福山.

There was one toilet beside the river. From the abundance of butterflies hovering near an outlet pipe, I gather the sewage, maybe not the solids, goes right into the river.

Other than butteflies, we saw some Formosan monkeys. While we were walking on the trail, the rain came. It was a torrential downpour that stopped after 20 minutes. While it was raining, the frogs came out, daddy long legs etc. I would say the forest came alive!

The trail that went up the side of the biggest waterfall was quite poorly managed. The path was narrow and certain parts had no barrier at all. It was on this path that one of us fell and it was a good thing he didn't go all the way down the mountain. I found it strange that for such a popular park, the path was not in better maintenance.

Other links on neidong: http://www.dan-studio.com/leisure/taibei/ix-wawa.htm