Wushe, Nantou County
Gateway to Taiwan's High Mountains
For most people who travel in Taiwan, Wushe, is nothing more than a small, average town on the way to more rewarding destinations such as Taroko Gorge, Mt. Hehuan and Lushan. I have to admit, the buildings along the main road aren't that charming...
The village is surrounded by mountains and is located along National Road 14, which is part of the Central Cross-Island Highway, the island's most spectacular road. This is the heart of Taiwan, wild and green. Up here, you're high above the pollution and noise of the cities. And past this point, a striking alpine world awaits!
Wushe Aboriginal Museum
If you've already been to Wushe and you're reading this, you're probably thinking What?!! A museum!? That's right. It's just off the main road, across from the 7-11, next to an elementary school. It's not Taiwan's most remarkable museum, but the old black and white photos and artifacts will give you some insights into Taiwanese indigenous cultures.
When I visited, a lovely Taiwanese girl eagerly showed me around. She kept on apologizing for not being able to speak English and told me to come back in the future when they would have more exhibitions.
Wushe Incident Memorial
In 1930, the Japanese were occupying the island and had an especially heavy presence in the central part of Taiwan, where mountain-dwelling aborigines were hard to control.
One day, an argument at a wedding led to an Atayal uprising where 132 Japanese men, women and children were slaughtered by Atayal warriors. The Japanese retaliated with aerial bombing, poison gas and sent more than 2800 soldiers to the area, leaving 644 Atayal dead.
The memorial is in a small park, by the road, on the outskirts of town.
Eating and Sleeping
The Chinese restaurant right next to 7-11 serves some pretty decent dishes at reasonable prices.
Also, the hotel in that building is a good option on weekends and holidays when all the mountain resorts are booked further up the road. You can get a double for less than NT800. The hotel has a rooftop balcony from where you get pretty amazing views of surrounding hills.
Arranging Mountain Permits
If you plan on climbing the Cilai Ridge you'll need to get a mountain permit at the police station, which is just past the 7-11, on the left. You'll need to bring a photocopy of your passport and provide a Taiwanese friend's phone number as well as a brief description of your intended itinerary.
Note: You must also have a National Park Permit to climb Mt. Cilai. A Taiwanese person must apply for you on the Taroko National Park website at least 7 days in advance.
It's possible to take a bus all the way here from Puli. Hitchhiking is a straightforward affair in this part of the country, so you could also consider that option. Nevertheless, having your own vehicle is the best way to explore the Central Mountain Range. Bring warm clothes if you're riding a scooter! The weather is unpredictable past this point. By the way, Wushe means foggy community.
Past the town, you'll come to an intersection: The left branch takes you to Cing Jing Farm, Hehuanshan, Taroko Gorge, Hualien , Lishan and Ilan. Keep your right to go to Lushan (a small village with hot spring resorts).
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