Wulai 烏來

Wūláii 烏來 is easily one of the most interesting day trips from nearby Taipei 台北. The riverside hot springs are fantastic and the usual tourist stuff, including a tram ride, a gondola trip over a beautiful waterfall, and some quasi-aboriginal food on the somewhat contrived old street, also satisfies.

Qingpu Hotel 清瀑大飯店

Debris litters the pockmarked floor of what must have once been the hotel lounge.

While on a day trip to Wūlái 烏來 at the very end of 2013 I was delighted to stumble upon one of the most picturesque abandonments I have had the pleasure of exploring in Taiwan 台灣. Mere steps from the southern terminus of the Wulai Sightseeing Tram 烏來觀光台車 one will find a viewing platform across from Wulai Falls 烏來瀑布, one of the most scenic waterfalls in the greater Taipei 台北 area. What you might not realize—unless you have a sixth sense for all things abandoned—is that the viewing platform doubles as the rooftop of a derelict hotel with a rather stunning view.

Road to Nowhere

A real cliffhanger. There is nothing beyond this point.

Sometimes when you set out to explore the edge of the map you don’t find much of anything at all. Such was the result when I set out for Wūlái 烏來 one day in March. I had hoped to cycle up to the half-abandoned theme park above the falls by way of the service roads on the back of the mountain. Along the way I took a wrong turn and soon found myself on a road to nowhere. When it ended I staggered off my bicycle in disbelief—I hadn’t expected the road to simply end. I peered over the edge and saw nothing but a vast expanse of wilderness. What was this road even doing here? Had it ever gone somewhere?

Doubling back I found the turn-off I had missed. It was a hard gravel road, too rough for me to handle with the equipment I had on hand. With my light running out I decided to call it quits. Not every adventure ends in success. Times like this you have to take what pleasure you can from simply trying something out.