Out in the riverside wilderness in Taipei

Out in the riverside wilderness in Taipei
The grassy banks of the Dahan River on the western edge of Taipei.

My first full day of wandering around Taipei 台北 back in March 2013 brought me to the wild lands of the riverside park on the southern edge of Dàtóng District 大同區. I knew nothing of the city at the time and was very surprised to walk through one of the gates in the massive riverside wall and find myself lost in the long grass along the eastern bank of the Dàhàn River 大漢溪. On the horizon you can make out some of the towers of Sanchong and what might be Guanyinshan in the distance, both places I still haven’t visited. Looking the other way you would see a city of millions.

The real poet’s residence in Wuri

The real poet's residence in Wuri
Chen Ruoshi’s ancestral home on a rural country lane in Wuri.

Not so long ago I published a photo essay about Jukuiju 聚奎居, a historic mansion in Wūrì 烏日, Taichung 台中, commonly described as the former residence of a famous poet, Chén Ruòshí 陳若時. During my research I found this detailed history of the building and was surprised to read that contrary to government sources no poet ever resided there. Digging around a bit more I turned up this post which claimed to have identified the real poet’s residence — just down the street from Jukuiju!

Last week I was passing through the area and decided to stop and take a look for myself. Nobody was around and I wasn’t about to go in and take a look without an invitation but I did snap this photo from the roadside. This traditional Taiwanese home lacks the extravagance of Jukuiju but it is not without a certain rural charm, don’t you think?

Don’t drink and drive, Taiwan style

Don't drink and drive, Taiwan style
Half taxi cab, half police car, all politaxi.

This is the so-called Politaxi-Car 酒駕防禦展示車, a peculiar statement against drunk driving introduced by the Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum in 2012. I suppose the idea here is that you have to choose between taking a taxi or a police car after drinking alcohol? The message seems somewhat muddled to me but it certainly attracts attention wherever it is displayed. As far as I know the car rotates around various parts Changhua 彰化 (and perhaps the rest of Taiwan 台灣) but I happened to catch it one day in front of the new train station in Yuánlín 員林.

Tunnel vision in Taipei

Tunnel vision in Taipei

This is another image I captured during my first visit to Taipei 台北 in the early springtime of 2013. Unless I am mistaken this is a picture of the final stages of the construction of the Songshan Line 松山線 of the Taipei MRT somewhere near Nanjing Fuxing Station 南京復興. The aboveground Wenhu Line 文湖線 is visible in the distance.

Zhongshan tenement blues

Zhongshan tenement blues

This photograph is among the first dozen or so that I captured after setting foot in Taiwan 台灣 for the first time in March 2013. Here you can see a typical concrete and tile apartment block in central Taipei 台北, one of the great vertical cities of East Asia. I previously wrote a little more about my initial impressions so I won’t say more than that.

Remember the Sunflowers

A year ago the Taiwanese people stood up to their elected government and halted the passage of a controversial free trade agreement by occupying the Legislative Yuan. This act of mass civil disobedience was soon christened the Sunflower Student Movement. I was living in Taipei 台北 when it all went down and visited the protest on several nights to watch history unfold. I am not a professional photographer, political observer, nor journalist, so please excuse the poor technical quality of the images and lack of elaboration in this gallery. It is my hope that these pictures capture something of the spirit of those wild, uncertain nights when anything seemed possible.

Remember the Sunflowers
The dawning of the Sunflower Student Movement.

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A traditional home in Xindian 新店老屋廢墟

Not long after moving to Wénshān District 文山區 in Taipei 台北 I went out riding to explore the neighbourhood. At some point I found myself on the opposite side of Jingmei River from where I was living at the time. Nestled into a bend in the river, this small nub of land was home to several factories, office buildings, and hotels that looked like they probably charged by the hour. There were almost no homes whatsoever — which seemed rather strange for that part of the city — but as I cycled along a Bǎoqiáo Road 寶橋路 laneway I noticed a traditional home hidden in the foliage to one side. I stopped to investigate…

A traditional home in Xindian 新店老屋廢墟
New life in an old home on the edge of Xindian.

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Putuoshan White Temple 普陀山白衣道場

Pǔtuóshān White Temple 普陀山白衣道場 is one of the stranger temples I have visited in Taiwan 台灣. Named after Putuoshan, one of the holy mountains of Chinese Buddhism, and dedicated to the worship of Guanyin 觀音, goddess of mercy, it appears to have been built in 2004. Apart from these basic details it seems like very little is known about this mysterious temple.

Putuoshan White Temple 普陀山白衣道場
The main hall at Putuoshan White Temple in Nanhua, Tainan.

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Chin Men Theater 全美戲院

Chin Men Theater 全美戲院
Hand-painted movies posters outside Chin Men Theater, Tainan.

Chin Men Theater 全美戲院 (pinyin: Quánměi Xìyuàn) is a second-run movie theater in Tainan 台南 famous for its hand-painted billboards. These nostalgic oil paintings are the work of local artist Yen Chen Fa 顏振發, a 40 year veteran of the dying trade profiled in the New York Post and the China Post. This is the same theater director Ang Lee used to frequent while attending high school in Tainan. To read much more deeply into the nostalgic history of this old theater check out this article in Taiwan Panorama.

Xunfang Fortress 巽方砲台

Xunfang Fortress 巽方砲台
Xunfang Fortress from within the monastery grounds.

Xunfang Fortress 巽方砲台 is another obscure historic site in Tainan 台南 that I found while digging into the archives of the excellent Tainan City Guide. This Qing Dynasty Era ruin can be found on the grounds of a monastery in East Tainan 台南市東區 not far from the location of Dadong Night Market 大東夜市.

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