Our Chinese teacher is amazing, so when we reached a textbook chapter devoted to Traveling, she suggested we get out of Taipei to do some real studying. And so we met up at Xindian mrt station, cimbed onto a bus and stood (swayed) our way to Wulai, trying not to crash into other passengers as we hung from the hand-bar-thingies and ogled the bright light blue river along the road.
Here is the view by the bus stop, looking back at the way we came with a view of the lantern-hung tourist bridge, a temple, gloomy-clouded mountains and the wonderful river – it really was that colour, except better.
Wulai is a little town known for Aboriginal culture, a fantastic waterfall, and hot springs (!) all along the river. We first visited the Atayal Museum, filled with enlightenment on topics ranging from tools to ceremonies, shamanism, the significance of tattoos and head hunting. Also some insects, like the one below.
The beetle has nothing to do with the rest of that sketchbook page, just to be clear, which is all about the meal our teacher (second from the right) ordered for us in an aboriginal style restaurant. We got to eat the traditional rice steamed in bamboo, and a sort of omelette with cardamom, and drink the delicious rice (millet?) wine my classmate is pouring out – click for bigger dishes and students!
We walked and climbed through Wulai, took what looked like a toy train along the gorge, and finally dangled across the gorge and its plummeting waterfall in a gondola which took us to a beautiful park.
[<– some planty sketches. The flower at the top was a greenish pink and massive and crazy. The ink in that one developed interesting varying tones as rain splashed over my sketchbook.) We leapt along pools shaded by clustering trees, posed by huge fish statues (and put coins in ’em to buy fish food), and rowed enthusiastically (or desperately whenever we went under the pretty but low and cobwebby stone bridges) in little boats on a green lake (‘Cloud Fairy Lake’?) above the waterfall! Below is a transcription of the poem found by the boats, as well as some of the shiny fish and elegant black swans.
We meant to try out the hot springs – there are several resorts and hotels along the main old street that offer hot spring baths and facilities, but we were all for dipping into the free, natural ones by the river (provided our teacher made poor Muwen and Junyi test the water first to get rid of any water snakes, she placing this responsibility on them as boys. Har har!). Sadly we spent so long feasting and admiring the waterfall and boating and being hypnotised by fish that we ran out of time. Also it drizzled throughout the day, but we could still see people bathing along the river edges as we crossed back through Wulai. Achieving a hot spring visit is one of my great ambitions while in Taiwan, so maybe I’ll go back to Wulai to sketch more leisurely and brave the water snakes…