Wulai is a small mountainous town popular for natural hot springs and the aboriginal people of Taiwan. It is only an hour’s drive from Taipei!
How to reach Wulai?
Get down at Xindian subway station (last stop of Green line ) and take bus number 849. Final stop of the bus 849 is WULAI. It took us 30 mins approximately. I remember paying when I got down at Wulai by Easy card and not when I got in. We have to pay relative to the stop we get down.
Although, it’s a beautiful journey with green meadows, petite waterfalls and small villages, the ride is uphill and crowded. As we get closer to Wulai, we’ll see Nanshi River surrounded by beautiful mountains.
I want this post to be as original as possible hence these pictures aren’t edited or touched, not even cropped nor scaled.
After all, culture is untouched, authentic and real. Here’s bringing you the utmost original and significant culture of Taiwan.
As many of us know and understand that major Taiwanese population are Chinese migrants. That’s why everything we get to see and experience during our visit to Taiwan is essentially Chinese culture.
Now then, what was Taiwan like before migration?
Originally, Taiwan was settled by “Aboriginal tribes” or “Yuanzamin” in Mandarin language. Aboriginal tribes are very few in number and they have exceptional history, culture, languages and practices. Currently, the Government of Taiwan is trying to promote and protect the tribe culture as the identity of Taiwan. During my solo trip to this fascinating village, I came across many glimpses of their distinctive culture especially, “The Bath culture” of aboriginal tribes.
Everybody travelling with me on the bus were talking about hot springs, Wulai Bridge, Downtown food and water falls. Wulai happened to me at the last minute. I was a bit confused when I got down from the bus. I neither had the map nor did I know about the place from any previous research. After getting off the bus, I went across the river and visited a local temple. Then, as I wandered on the roads, I hardly saw any people. I asked one of my fellow travellers from the bus about sights to see around. He mentioned there were mostly private hot springs and guest houses. I then, walked back to the bus stop and took the opposite direction but ended up wasting a lot of time. To avoid this, better have a map travellers! 😉
Aboriginals and their culture
Note: If you want to witness the tribal culture, you can still go further down but prefer going in groups or with your companion. I felt a little isolated as it wasn’t so popular then. I was all by myself and came back safe from this point though.
I kept walking on and on in the opposite direction and was truly confused and worried that I would waste all my time wandering empty roads on a day trip. Finally, I reached a lively place of quaint old markets and food arcades.
I walked through the old street downtown looking at souvenirs and that’s when a wall art seized my attention. I paused to take picture and realised that it’s a Museum known as the “Atayal Museum.”
There is no entrance ticket and the best part is that the exhibits are in English. A museum about local tribe culture, Aboriginal people and their livelihood. The exhibits made me want to see and meet the village people to get to know more about their culture.
I came out of the Museum with a great plan of walking through the village. I walked down the old street and passed down the bridge to reach a calm secluded Wulai village.
While scrolling through the village, I came across narrow lanes, bumpy blotches, grimy facades, and greasy water while inspecting the adorable cultural elements outside their houses and the, walked along the Nanshi River. To my surprise, I was happy enough to discover the raw, uncensored and unique bath culture of Wulai village people.
I felt shy and nervous while I was there but was also very curious to witness and comprehend. I saw men and women carrying a bag of bathing utilities, clothes etc. like any other regular natural hot spring.
As I went by, I saw the village people including men & women together at a common bathing space without any insecurities or judgements.
I was amazed at how people were comfortable unlike the crowd at mixed hot springs or any luxury beach resort. It wasn’t a special day nor there were any tourists soaking. It was just a regular day of the villagers and it’s an everyday sight of hot springs to have people meet, greet, exercise, relax, talk, laugh around shower for hours. I did not see men or women gazing awkwardly. There was no perversion or discrimination, in fact, their routine seemed very easy going and pristine.
Forget about neighbours, here we can’t even imagine being around our very own tribe with no insecurities and judgements. With too many cultural deviations and interventions, where exactly are we now?
Health and healing is the Wulai tribe culture. Fears and verdicts has sadly become our culture.
Have we been successful evolving in culture? I sense that our system is a messed up culture irrespective of the country and place we breathe in.
Don’t you think it’s time to unfold the culture that we have evolved from instead of innovating new cultures every minute?
These days, “organic” is considered ‘being back to roots’ in our modernised times of living.