Hot springs & waterfalls – a hidden paradise in Wulai, Taiwan

Wulai was without a doubt my favorite part of Taiwan.  Sure I only had a long weekend to explore but everything I loved about Taipei was in this quaint mountain town’s market too.  But the real attraction of Wulai isn’t the night market you can find in the capitol, its the lush natural surroundings & friendly locals.

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Directions to Wulai
849 bus from Xindian station (end of the green line.)
Bus fare – $15 NTD ($.50US)
Taxi fare – $600 NTD ($20US)

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Upon first arriving in Wulai its impossible to miss the stunning bridges criss-crossing across the river augmented by the Wulai Waterfall.  A column of water 80 meters high plummets to the river (making it Taiwan’s largest waterfall) just across from the natural hot springs where you’ll find locals inviting you to join them for an afternoon soak.

 

 


Wulai Bridge


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Bukhansan National Park’s highest peak – Baegundae

Last summer I made the responsible (albeit disappointing) choice to skip mudfest in lieu of staying healthy and climbing Bukhansan National Park’s highest peak, Baegundae.  Leaving the following Thursday for an extreme trip through Vietnam  I knew that I didn’t want to fight a multi-day hangover or any bruised limbs from the alcohol supported escapades at one of the dirtiest festivals in the world.  As a result I offered to lead a hike up Baegundae with Seoul Hiking Group.  That’s how Brian and I came to meet some new hiking buddies, Heidi & Jason!

The Korean language barrier presented some difficulties finding the right entrance.  At first we ended up at the same entrance Brian & I had taken a few months back which was a 4 hour trek to the base of Baegundae.  This time we were searching for the 1.5 hour route!  Luckily my Korean was capable enough to buy a map and ask for directions so we quikcly found a cab and arrived at the Baegundae-Sogwicheon Information Center.

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When first stepping on the trail we had roughly 500m of vertical remaining in the 835m climb up Baegundae.  It began as rough cut stone steps and boulders surrounded by th_DSC6490e natural beauty of Bukhansan in the summer.  Green trees with the occasional flower flanked our path as the sweat rolled down our faces.  Jason, a first time hiker was soon converted to a naturalist and took regular breaks to get a full feel for mother nature’s splendor.

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A few minutes in we found ourselves at a “temple.”  It had none of the usual pizazz with a bland roof instead of the typical painted parapet.  We were greeted by two “mountain dogs” as a Korean woman approached.  There was a small antechamber for prayer with a spectacular buddha but otherwise this locale appeared to be the simple residence of these pleasant folk.  We played with the dogs for a few moments and said our thanks before continuing the trek.

 

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Virtual Hiking Saryangdo’s Jagged Ridge Trail again

We just got back from my 3rd trip to Saryangdo with Seoul Hiking Group.  The 1st time got me hooked on Seoul Hiking Group which lead to dozens of other outdoor adventures.  In the fall we went back and I realized this place was my favorite hike in all of Korea.  Last year’s panoramas and videos inspired this trip and I hope yo enjoy the new video with a daunting perspective of the Jagged Ridge Trail.  Photos are up too!

Shanghai to Newark – 3 Planes

Nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotion that overcame me when I got in line at PVG, Shanghai’s airport.  My gate read SEATTLE, printed neatly in digital letters just above it.  After a year and a half of living in Asia I was actually going home.  Soon I’d board for a mindless trip across the Pacific and set foot on home turf for the first time in what seemed like ages.  A tear came to my eye as I envisioned greeting my parents, friends and of course sweet delicious American burgers, steaks, pizza and everything else that makes us world renowned as the fattest country on Earth.
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I don’t know how many hours I was in the air, how many hours I was travelling or how far the distance was.  I do know that it was an incredibly disorienting process to board 3 different planes in 3 different time zones and would without a doubt do it again in a heartbeat!  I slept half a dozen times, saw 2 sunsets (no sunrises), Mt. Fuji, a seas of clouds and clear blue water.  Luckily for you this was my first flight where phones were allowed the entire time (on airplane mode of course).   Delta Airlines made the announcement and I promptly took advantage of it to film out of my 3 window seats.  Enjoy the video!

 

Virtual Hiking Saryangdo’s Jagged Ridge Trail

Okay so maybe its not a virtual hike but enjoy this video I put together from the weekend’s excursion with Seoul Hiking Group to Saryangdo Island!  After a quick Google I’m pretty sure the trail is called Jagged Ridge Trail.  We’ll certainly go back to Saryangdo but until then you’ll just have to enjoy this video!