We woke up to our first full day in Taipei, refreshed and eager to explore. Early mornings and evenings are the best time to be out and about because the temperature is actually reasonable. Taiwan is incredibly humid and 90% of the day we were covered in sweat. So we were excited to check out Wulai which is a small indigenous town about an hour outside of Taipei and in the mountains. We were hoping to cool off by doing a little swimming..which you will find out was a failed attempt.
The natural setting that Wulai sits in is gorgeous, lush green mountains, waterfalls, and a crazy teal blue river runner through the town. However, the town itself has seen better days. It’s pretty run down, with most things just simply not in business anymore.We found ourselves walking along an abandoned railroad track up to Wulai Falls, which definitely added to the eerie feeling of the town. The town used to be home to the indigenous tribe of “The Atayal”. This particular tribe had a love of tattoos. When a baby was born they received a small tattoo and then every bday would receive a new one. Without these tattoos you were basically not allowed to partake in society. But, like most tribes in the west their customs and culture has become modernized. After about a 35 minute walk uphill we made it to the “highlight” of the town. An 80 m high waterfall.
By this point we were pretty sticky and sweaty so we wanted to cool off in the refreshing looking river that ran through the town. Well just like everything else in the area the RIVER was closed too! The area was not very well maintained and the river looked a bit polluted, and all the “hiking” trails that led down to the river were blocked off. We asked a few locals and even paid a cab driver to bring us to a spot that was mentioned in our guide book, but it was all in vain. We were pretty disappointed! We took a look through the remainder of the town, which incorporated a beautiful temple and some pretty spectacular bridges. By this point it was around 11:30am. Our original plan was to hang out in Wulai all day but with everything being a bust be boarded the bus and headed back to Taipei to see what we could find in the city!
Finally we made it to the mountains! It only took us a month and a half to find our way to them. But we did it! Friday was our day off so we boarded a train and took it an hour southwest of us to a town called Yoro. Our mission for the day was to summit the Yoro Mountain which is a whopping 859M (2819 FT). When we arrived in Yoro the place looked like a ghost town. During spring and autumn the place is bumping because of the cherry blossoms and fall foliage, but since its the off season we had the whole place to ourselves! Literally we only saw 3 people the entire day! Coming from Nagoya, where there are 4 million people, everywhere all day everyday this was such a nice break!
Legend has it that back in the 8th century, a poor lumberjack was living around this area. His very old fathers one wish was to drink sake, but since the family was very poor they couldn’t afford to buy it. One day, the boy was walking towards the falls, when he started to smell sake. Surprisingly, it was flowing from the waterfall! He brought home the sake and gave it to his father and after drinking it his father got younger, and the family became happy.
This story was reported to the Capital Nara, and reached Empress Gensho’s ear.The Empress said “The gods praised his filial devotion to parents.”The Empress visited this falls, and she also drink the water.
She changed the name of an era to “Yoro” which means “supporting old age”, and she made honorable recognition of devoted sons and daughters.
After checking out the fountain of youth waterfall and deciding that waterfall was in fact just delicious water not sake! We began our ascent to Mount Yoro. What basically should have been a 12 km (7.45 miles) roundtrip day, turned into what we think was a 16 km (9.9 mile) day! All because we took a wrong turn. The trails were well marked, and we had a map…but everything was of course in Japanese! Luckily, we were prepared with the 10 essentials..so we weren’t too worried about our wrong turn.
Overall the day was great! We ate our lunch of homemade Onigiri near the summit, saw Mount Fuji in the distance and even saw a family of Japanese wild deer! At the end of the day we celebrated our victory by buying locally made Yoro falls beer and cider as well as a good luck gourd. We might be living in the concrete jungle but we are mountain people at heart.
Yoro Train station with good luck drinking gourds
Creepiest amuesement park
The mountain we’re about to hike
Fall isnt quiete over
Fountain of youth..yes please!
Rabid Fire squirrel?
Make a wish
Shrine next to the waterfall
The fountain of Youth
Stairs on Stairs
Getting closer to the top = Snow
The mountains are calling
Nagoya sprawl with Mount Fuji in the distance!
Yoro Summit! 898 M
The little boy who saved his father
Yoro Beer made from the waterfall…cheers!