Fri, Sep 05, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Lead your lover by the hand to Yunhsien, Wulai

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

A romantic excursion awaits. Rowboats float idle at Yunhsien Dreamland during the slow season.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

If Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, Yunhsien Dreamland (雲仙樂園), is the most content, at least in the off season. The swimming pools have been emptied, many of the rides are under repair, and the throngs of children are noticeably absent. What the dreamland becomes during this time of year -- especially on weekdays -- is the perfect place to take a date.

For those unfamiliar with it, Yunhsien is an amusement park that sits atop the magnificent waterfall in Wulai, Taipei County. A two-minute cable car ride across the river takes you to the top of the adjacent mountain to a place that's half playground and half Chinese garden. Imagine the ponds and pathways of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall placed on a picturesque mountaintop, but with games and rides instead of a monument to a dictator.

During peak season, the obvious attractions are a large swimming pool and slide, a golf driving range and a bicycle rollercoaster that doesn't involve any coasting, rolling is difficult enough. There are a number of other rides like it that generally involve sitting in something that moves along a track for a minute or two. Unless you're six years old, they're largely forgettable with the exception of a haunted house ride that certainly every cunning teenage boy in the metropolitan area has taken his girlfriend to.

With many of those attractions shuttered and the teenagers in class, the place becomes a dreamland for young lovers, who would rather spend an afternoon rowing a boat on the large fishpond that feeds the waterfall or have their picture taken by the many streams that feed into the pond. Of course, the haunted house remains open for them, too. Some things never change.

A testament to just how romantic a spot Yunhsien is: it has a jewellery store with a plentiful supply of ladies' rings.

"I think we sell more engagement rings than any other jeweler in Taiwan," said Ms. Wu, who has watched the shop for a number of years. "I just hope they stay on people's fingers!"

The one major drawback to Yunhsien it's that it closes at 5pm, when the park empties and the cable cars fill with families heading home. But here's a little-known secret: the cable car leaves Yunhsien again at 6pm and 8pm. A good thing to keep in mind if your date is going well. If it's going particularly well, there's even a hotel and villas on the grounds, but be prepared to pay top-dollar for a room; after 8pm, you're a captive audience.

To get to Yunhsien Dreamland from the Hsintien MRT station, you must first take the bus to Wulai (烏來). The bus stop is next door to the 7-11 adjacent the MRT station. Busses come every 30 to 40 minutes. Once you arrive in Wulai, follow the signs to the waterfall and ride the cable car (NT$250/person). It' s about a 30 to 40 minute walk from Wulai's main street but taxis often ply the route. Alternatively, a taxi from Hsintien MRT station to the waterfall, or vice-versa, will cost about NT$300. There is a NT$50 admission to the park in addition to the cable car ride and many of the rides cost an additional NT$50. The restaurants are also expensive. All the more reason to leave the kids at home.

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