Inside The Decaying Courtyard

The view from within a decaying public housing block in downtown Taipei.

Yesterday I followed a lead to Lánzhōu Public Housing 蘭州國宅, a project in central , . It is similar to Nanjichang Community 南機場社區, a far more well-known housing project in , but this building was constructed almost ten years later in 1973. As with Nanjichang, its fate also remains unclear, as the city is working through complex land ownership issues to figure out how to move residents into more modern housing. I plan to have a full write-up about this place some day so I’ll leave it at that for now—just a glimpse.

Postcards From Intramuros

The southern entrance to Intramuros, Manila.

Intramuros (literally “within the walls”) is the former center of Spanish colonial power and the Catholic Church in the . Located in the heart of old , this fortified district has a long and complicated history stretching back more than four centuries, but little of what remains is original and untouched. Intramuros was heavily damaged during the Japanese invasion in 1941 and almost completely destroyed in the Battle of Manila in 1945. Almost everything seen in my photos was reconstructed beginning in the 1950s and continuing to the present day.

Transformed By Time

Time and the elements have weathered this transformer box on the streets of Linkou.

Yesterday I went on a short tour of inspired by the opening of the Taoyuan Airport MRT and the proliferation of YouBike stations to the exurbs of . After spending some time under the sun I stopped to pick up some water at one of Taiwan’s ubiquitous convenience stores and noticed a weathered padmount transformer out front, pictured here.

South Yuanlin Station 南員林站

An old wooden railway station in back alley Yuanlin. The sign reads “yield before the main road” (ràng qián yǒu gàndào 讓前有幹道).

South Yuanlin Station 南員林站 is an railway station located not far from the newly reopened Yuanlin Station 員林車站 in the heart of , a mid-sized city in central . It opened in 1933 as a small stop on the now-derelict Yuanlin Line 員林線 of the Taiwan Sugar Railways 臺灣糖業鐵路, which formerly ran west for about 9 kilometers across the Changhua Plain 彰化平原 to the Xihu Sugar Factory 溪湖糖廠 in . Apart from facilitating the transport of sugarcane and other cargo this old wooden station also provided passenger service until it was abolished sometime around 1975.

Synaptic FX Series 2

Synaptic FX – Subterranean Sounds

Gathered here are more quick and dirty cover designs for more sets recorded under my Synaptic FX alter-ego, my DJ name for artful electronic music at the intersection of underground house, techno, and trance. All but one of these sets were performed in and, as such, I have gone to some trouble to source appropriate photography from the vicinity of the performance, where possible and appropriate. Original source material for a few of these covers can be found here, here, and here. For reference, here’s the first batch of covers.

Alien Underworld

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What wonders will be found in this strange place?

I haven’t spent much time in over the years so I somewhat arbitrarily decided to stop there one night in February 2017 while making my way north from . Hotels are cheap and regular train service is about half the cost of high-speed rail so I figured it wasn’t costing me much to take it slow. After enjoying some famous turkey rice in one of the main tourist night markets I wandered around to reacquaint myself with the layout of the place. Not far from the traffic circle east of Chiayi Station I noticed the entrance to an electronic gaming den with an amusing name: ET歡樂世界, literally “Extraterrestrial Happy World”.

The Ruins of the Aduana Building

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Ominous skies over the hollow shell of the Aduana Building just outside the walls of Intramuros in Manila.

The Aduana Building, also known as the Intendencia, is located just outside the walls of Intramuros, the historic center of Spanish colonial . Originally built as a customs house in the 1820s, it has undergone several cycles of destruction and renewal starting in 1863, when the building was almost completely destroyed by the same strong earthquake that leveled much of the old city. Rebuilt in the mid-1870s, it served various government functions—office of the National Archives, first home of the Philippines Senate, and again the Bureau of Customs—before it was ravaged during the initial and final bombing campaigns of World War II. After reconstruction it again served as the offices of different government agencies before it was finally following a devastating fire in 1979. Restoration plans have been floated since the 1990s but as of late 2015, when I wandered by, the Aduana Building remains in ruin.

Fire Rooster Mandala

Wall art celebrating the year of the Fire Rooster in Tainan.

Not long after ushering in the new year in I made an unplanned visit to , where I lived back in 2014, and spent an afternoon wandering around town with fellow blogger and photographer Josh Ellis. We captured a lot that day—including this mandala pasted onto a wall in the alleyway leading to Pǔjìdiàn 普濟殿, a reliably eventful temple known, among other things, for displaying hundreds of lanterns over new year’s. Looking closely you should be able to discern a rooster in the mandala, for it is now the Year of the Fire Rooster 火雞年 according to the Chinese zodiac 屬相. Combining the twelve animals of the zodiac with the Five Elements 五行 (wood 木, fire 火, earth 土, metal 金, and water 水), yields the Sexagenary Cycle 六十干支, deified as the sixty Tài Suì 太歲 gods commonly seen in Taiwanese . If you want to be cheeky about it you could call this the “year of the turkey”, for “fire chicken” or huǒjī 火雞 is the Chinese word for turkey, a linguistic quirk elaborated here.

25 Kilos of Rice

The doorway to a hostess club in advertising an attendance and referral bonus paid in rice.

Yesterday I wandered through Malate, a commercial district at the south end of , in search of the ruins of the historic Gaiety Theater. Unfortunately the building was demolished sometime last year—something that the Wikipedia entry didn’t mention until I updated it with my findings. Of course I was also capturing photos along the way, among them this shot of the entrance to Kimura キムラ, a small hostess club obviously catering to a Japanese clientele. Such bars are common anywhere Japanese businessmen travel in Asia and you can read a little more about what goes on inside similar establishments here in or watch this obscure, dimly-lit video advertisement for the club.

Departure Time

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The hands advance, time moves forward, and I’ve got a plane to catch.

Five in the afternoon and it’s time to split. I’ve had an interesting time here in —and a good day of work here at Toby’s Estate—but I’ve a plane to catch. Timing my departure is difficult due to the threat of absolute gridlock on the way to the airport. My plane is scheduled to fly just after ten but I rather arrive early than succumb to a last-minute panic. Time and tide wait for no man, nor do commercial flights. (And as chance would have it my flight was delayed by nearly two hours and I didn’t leave the until close to midnight.)