Last weekend I took a day trip outside your borders, and I must say, it’s one I’ll never forget for both its impressive beauty and uniqueness: Mukumugi’s (慕谷慕魚) hidden pools.
Mukumugi, Taiwan (慕谷慕魚)
This is the perfect trip for someone wanting to escape Taipei for only a day, but be rewarded with spectacularly stunning views. Think I’m exaggerating? Let me convince you with just one photo…
Yes. That really is how captivating it really looks. But, of course, a photograph could only ever convey so much of Mukumugi’s allure. Believe me when I say its even more piercingly beautiful in person.
Mukumugi Valley, also referred to as Mugumuyu, in Taiwan’s Hualian County, is a valley with pools of the clearest, most dazzling blue. On the way over you’ll be greeted by a picturesque backdrop of mountains and ocean views. But first, you’ll have to take a light, 40 minute hike to reach your destination.
Don’t worry, I assure you- as someone who is quite unfit- it’s not strenuous at all. If you’ve got friends in tow the the time will pass before you know it. Plus the trip there is spotted with little treasures like this:
Relatively little known, at least compared to the likes of Taiwan’s star attractions, such as the nearby Taroko Gorge, Mukumugi benefits from both the serenity of nature, and the fact that it fortunately remains untouched by the commercialisation of tourism, nor, for the most part, the detructiveness of man.
The story goes that it was so beautiful, that the Aboriginal tribe who first set foot on it, the Mukumugi, was never able to leave. Today, the local Truku (太魯閣族) Aboriginal group calls its surrounding area home.
From a distance, the water looks almost opaque, so boldly its colour gloriously reflects.
But don’t be fooled- this is just an illusion. When you step in and immerse yourself, you’ll realise the waters are, in fact, crystal clear. Like looking through a freshly cleaned glass pane, with its glaze and clarity, every hair, scar, or mark that covers your body can be seen through its waters.
You’ll need little excuse to step in, and wade through the serene, and slightly chilly waters. After submerging yourself, bob your head up to hear the chirping of crickets in the distance (as dream-like as it sounds!). If you take a look around, you’ll see a troop of tall and proud trees enveloping you.
Step over the rocks, one by one. Careful now! You don’t want to slip before you reach a second pool of water.
Swim towards the rocks and you’ll be met by a mini waterfall. Here, you can sit and feel the rush of the water pounding on your back.
Step over some more rocks and you’ll find a taller waterfall. The water is rushing out more rapidly here. Maybe you’ll try to swim towards the mouth, only to be pushed back by the strength of its push.
If you’re up for more exploring, step deeper into the valley and you’ll catch sight of an even wider body of water.
You can rest on the rocks at the entrance of the first pool alongside the locals, dipping your feet in every so often to feel the cool water. Dip yourself in, becoming one with the deep blue. And for the adventurous, keep climbing from rock to rock, deeper into the valley.
How you enjoy Mukumugi is really up to you.
I have been informed that due to heavy damaged caused by a typhoon last September, Mukumugi is currently closed. It will apparently reopen June 2017.
Where is Mukumugi?
972, Taiwan, Hualien County, Xiulin Township, 花專1線
How to get there
By car from Taipei, the trip takes 3.5-4 hours each way, depending on traffic. There’s a toll-free parking lot at the base. You can also take a train to Hualian station and then cab or scooter from there for about thirty minutes, but be sure to book train tickets well in advance as tickets seem to sell out quite quickly for the weekend.
What to do once you arrive
Once you arrive, you’ll have to go to the police station just a short walk from the carpark to sign in. Be warned, only 600 people are allowed into Mukumugi each way. I can’t advise on how likely it is for the limit to be reached, but its best to be safe than sorry, so leave enough time. We arrived at around 11:30.
At the ticket office, you’ll have to apply for a permit and all the members of your party will have to sign in. You’ll need to give your basic info like name, address, DOB and ID number (don’t forget to bring it!).
Getting to Mukumugi
After you’ve handed back the permit, expect a 40 minute light hike to reach the destination.
Good luck! You’ll be rewarded at the end with the most wonderful sight, I promise!
The trip I went on was organised by the wonderful Australian Youth Chinese Association (ACYA), a group open to all to engage anyone with an interest in promoting cross-cultural understanding through various social and cultural activities. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on various events!