Manila Metropolitan Theater

Manila Metropolitan Theater facade
In front of the Manila Metropolitan Theater, the most famous Art Deco theater in the Philippines.

Manila Metropolitan Theater, or simply the Met, is the largest and most famous Art Deco theater in Manila. Designed by the prolific Juan M. Arellano, the Met officially opened in 1931 and soon became a focal point for Manila’s high society. Like most of the rest of the city Manila Metropolitan Theater was heavily damaged in the Battle of Manila. The post-war era wasn’t kind to the Met; it fell into disrepute for decades until restoration efforts were undertaken in the late 1970s. Ownership disputes led to another phase of neglect in the mid-1990s and today it remains abandoned despite occasional efforts at rehabilitation.

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Fushui Village 富水里

Old homes in Fushui Village, Taipei
Old homes in an abandoned section next to Jiahe New Village.

Fùshuǐ Village 富水里 is located on a small parcel of land at the southern edge of Zhōngzhèng District 中正區, Taipei 台北, just to the west of Gōnggǔan Station 公館站. Technically the village contains the now-abandoned Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村, a military dependents’ village previously profiled on this blog, but most common uses of the name refer to the illegal settlement running along Yǒngchūn Street 永春街, just inside the riverside wall. This settlement of around a hundred homes, like nearby Treasure Hill 寶藏巖, was supposed to be destroyed around the turn of the millennium, but plans have gone awry, and its fate remains unclear.

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Taiwan night market fashion collection 1

Life fast live forever, flashy version
Live fast, live forever! Inexplicable satanic hipster fashion as seen at Tonghua Night Market. This looks like a second generation copy of the black and white original.

In addition to their reputation for novelty foods in Taiwan 台灣 also offer an almost endless variety of cheap goods, particularly clothing and accessories. Much of Taiwanese night market fashion is amusing, quirky, provocative, bizarre, or even incoherent, though some of it is also quite clever. My understanding is that a lot of the originates in China 中国, where massive factories churn out garments emblazoned with English text and pop culture references without regard for semantic meaning. This is almost certainly the result of copying passages from print or online media, using machine translation, or sheer laziness, but it might also be for aesthetic effect. Transcription errors are common, particularly when popular designs are copied by competing factories. Observed on the scale of years there is something almost evolutionary at work in night market fashion—styles mutate and are subject to a kind of natural selection. To celebrate the absurdity of this curious cultural phenomena I have assembled about 40 photos from my many visits to the night markets of Taiwan, almost all of which I have previously been shared on my Instagram account, the perfect vehicle for such inanity. Enjoy!

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Yonghe Grand Cinema 永和大戲院

An old cinema converted into a 7-Eleven
An old cinema in Yonghe partly converted into a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Yonghe Grand Cinema 永和大戲院 is one of dozens of derelict movie in Greater Taipei. Like hundreds of other theaters all around Taiwan 台灣 this one went out of business in the early years of the new millennium due to changing consumer habits, a topic I have already discussed at length in previous explorations of places like Datong Theater 大同戲院 in Taitung City 台東市 and Xinming Theater 新明戲院 in Zhōnglì 中壢. Whereas theaters in the rest of the country are often left to the elements, sky-high property values in the Taipei 台北 area strongly incentivize owners to do something with these decaying buildings. In this instance the front of the old theater has been converted for the use of into a 7-Eleven convenience store and an Italian restaurant by the name of Lan De Pasta House 嵐迪義大利麵. I wonder whether patrons of these establishments realize what looms overhead?

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South Taiwan Ride 2015: Fangliao to Manzhou

Metallic aquaculture monument in Fangliao
Metal fish in the sky: a monument to aquaculture on the outskirts of Fangliao.

Last summer I embarked upon a weeklong bicycle tour in the deep south of Taiwan. I began in Tainan 台南, cycled through Kaohsiung 高雄 to Pingtung City 屏東市, spent a day hanging out, and then continued on to Fāngliáo 枋寮, where the coastal plain narrows to a thin wedge between the mountains and the sea. There is only one road leading south from here—which meant I covered a lot of ground I had already seen while riding all around Taiwan in 2013. I didn’t mind repeating that beautiful stretch of coastline and, actually, I was looking forward to checking out some places I had breezed by on that first big tour, particularly in Fāngshān 枋山 and Héngchūn 恆春.

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Taichung sunset before the storm

Taichung sunset before the storm
Sunset before the storm: looking northwest from the rooftop of the abandoned Qianyue Building.

Typhoon Nepartak has come and gone without impacting Taichung 台中 hardly at all. Almost no wind or rain afflicted the city as the typhoon was torn apart by passage over the mighty Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 far to the south, leaving me without a good tale to tell or any dramatic photos from within the storm.

Yesterday I shot a few interesting photos after climbing up to the top of the notorious Qiānyuè Building 千越大樓, an high-rise not far from the central station, to get a nice view of the entire Taichung Basin 台中盆地. Previously I published a long shot of the “UFO” on top of the building and here’s one more, this time of the setting sun over the west side of the city.

Rooftop reflections at the Qianyue Building 千越大樓

Reflections of the Qianyue Building UFO
Reflections on the rooftop of the Qianyue Building 千越大樓.

Today I climbed to the top of the Qiānyuè Building 千越大樓, an infamous ruin within sight of the central train station in Taichung 台中. I was up there to get a view of the mountains to the east—and perhaps a glimpse of the oncoming storm—but the horizon was a blur. Instead I turned my lens to a pool of rainwater, capturing a reflection of the “UFO” on top of the building. This was actually a rotating karaoke bar before it almost burned down years ago. I wonder how it’ll fare in when Typhoon Nepartak arrives later tonight?

City of illusions

Sanchong skyline obscured by the arc of a bridge
An inadvertent illusion along the banks of the Tamsui River.

Last January I shot this uncertain scene of a man looking over his shoulder as he crosses a curved bridge perfectly dividing the Sānchóng 三重 skyline from the tranquil Tamsui River 淡水河. This is one of many images I have captured along the riverside bikeway on the western edge of Taipei 台北. Actually, this picture was taken not far from where I shot this more minimal skyline that same day, and it’s only a little north of the scenic stretch of river depicted here and here. There is something enticing about the unseen shoreline on the opposite side of the river…

Dark heart of the doomed market

Heart of the market
Looking up from the heart of Jianguo Public Market 建國市場.

Recently I have undertaken several expeditions to Jiànguó Public Market 建國市場 in Taichung 台中, formerly the largest traditional market in Taiwan 台灣. As part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the area around Taichung Station 台中車站 the market building is scheduled for demolition in a few months time. Many residents have already been evicted and plenty of businesses have moved to a new market building on the other side of the railway line. I will at some point publish a full post about this doomed relic of the —but for now here’s an shot from within the very heart of the old market building oddly reminiscent of another another famous ruin in Taichung.

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao

Tudigong statue on the outskirts of Pingtung City
A Tudigong 土地公 statue on the outskirts of Pingtung City 屏東市.

After spending a day riding around Pingtung City I was ready to hit the road again. With no specific destination in mind—only an intention to head in the direction of Héngchūn 恆春, far to the south—I checked out of the vintage homestay I lodged at the previous night, stopped at Eske Place Coffee House for a delicious and healthy vegetarian breakfast, changed into cycling wear, and exited the city to the east. I knew almost nothing about where I was headed or what I might see on the third day of my south Taiwan ride in 2015. I only had one stop planned in advance: a hospital in Cháozhōu 潮州 rumoured to be . I didn’t know it at the time but I would spend almost the entire day riding through the historic Hakka belt of Pingtung 屏東.

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