It was a most peculiar sight. A light cappuccino brown flowed down the main river while jade green waters swirled down the adjoining river from the right. Seemingly bound for a messy collision, the two streams instead stilled abruptly, settling into an uneasy truce along some invisible line. Fitting perhaps for Wulai (烏來), an aboriginal town on the outskirts of Taipei City, where most of its inhabitants depend upon the tourism trade in some form or other.
The rain-pregnant sky discouraged immediate exploring so we ambled down Wulai Old Street (烏來老街) for the next best alternative – food!
Wild mountain pig (野山猪) is an aboriginal delicacy and we passed many stalls selling it, either satay style or stuffed in sausages. Look out for the last sausage stall just before the bridge. If long queues are an indication of taste, then the sausages there are 20-people-queuing-in-the-rain delicious.
Lunch was a simple and homely affair at one of the many restaurants serving aboriginal dishes. A pleasant (and healthier) change from the typical MSG ladden Taiwanese food, the dishes here were subtly flavored with freshly picked local ingredients. I especially loved the chuan qi vegetable we ordered and the bamboo tube rice.
Just look at all that sticky goodness waiting to be cracked open. The rice was mixed with mushrooms, dried shrimps and pork cubes, encased in a hollow bamboo tube, and boiled in a pot of water. It arrived piquant and still scalding hot on our table, barely made it for the two photos, before being unceremoniously pried open and devoured.
Wulai is home to the Atayal tribe and at the Wulai Atayal Museum, we learnt about the Atayal’s custom of spirit worship and the Gaga, principles passed down from their ancestors. Definitely a must-visit for anyone interested in indigenous culture!
Leaving the bustle of Wulai Old Street for the scenic Wulai Waterfall, we felt a sense of quiet awe as we looked up at the mist shrouded mountains and the rain swollen river coursing beneath.
At 80 meters, the waterfall wasn’t Niagara Falls spectacular, but majestic nonetheless. It cascaded in a tumble of frothy white foam and loud hisses, a testament to the magnificence of Mother Nature.
For people too weary to walk or those looking for a joy ride in a little railway train, there’s the Wulai Log Cart! Rumble along the rusty train tracks and take a trip down memory lane as you experience the ancient log trails used to transport raw materials during the Japanese Occupation.
Getting there: Alight at Xindian MRT station and transfer to Xindian Bus (no. 849). The bus journey to Wulai takes approximately 30 minutes.