Postcards From Badouzi 八斗子

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Sundown over Badouzi, a peninsula on the eastern periphery of , .

Near the end of my first summer in I visited Bādǒuzi 八斗子, a rocky headland, coastal park, and major fishing port at the far eastern edge of , . I went there on impulse, not knowing what to expect, just to see what was out there. Google Maps and Taiwan’s excellent public transit system make random explorations like this almost effortless: pick a point of interest and follow the directions—the digital equivalent of throwing a dart at a map. This post features a selection of retouched photos from this expedition alongside the sort of explanatory text I wouldn’t have been able to write back in 2013. Fair warning for arachnophobes: this post contains several gratuitous photos of giant spiders and other creepy crawlies!

Outside Quan’an Hall 全安堂

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In front of the Taiwan Sun Cake Museum in Taichung.

Quán’ān Hall 全安堂 is a century-old building on Taiwan Boulevard 臺灣大道 not far from the old train station in . Built in 1909 with red brick, reinforced concrete, and a Neo-Baroque style commonly attributed to Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo 辰野金吾 (中文), it was a pharmacy for many decades, and more recently a bakery. A few years ago it was rebranded as the Taiwan Sun Cake Museum 台灣太陽餅博物館, which now operates a gift store on the ground floor and, beneath the exposed wooden beams of the restored rooftop on the second level, a cafe, event space, and interactive museum.

Keelung’s All-Night Kanziding Fish Market 基隆崁仔頂漁市場

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On the edge of the fish market in downtown Keelung at around 3am.

Kànzǐdǐng Fish Market 崁仔頂漁市場 is supposedly the longest-running operation of its kind in northern . Back in the the market was located along the banks of the Xùchuān River 旭川河 in , formerly a navigable channel running through the downtown core into the harbour. The Japanese built a pier in the late 1920s, making it easy for fishermen to offload their catch next to the market, and convenient access to the railway network encouraged its growth.

Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫

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The unique railway roundhouse in Changhua City, Taiwan.

One of the most unique attractions in is the historic Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫, originally built in 1922 during Japanese colonial rule and still in operation today. Although information is hard to come by it seems that it might be the only roundhouse still operating in Asia—and certainly one of the oldest still in regular use anywhere in the world. Every other roundhouse I researched for this article has been abandoned, demolished, repurposed, or converted into a museum, and those rare few that are still operational have been mighty hard to date. As such, the Changhua Roundhouse is a dream to visit for a railway enthusiast like myself, particularly since the ambiance hasn’t been ruined by the sort of tacky treatment you’ll often find at Taiwanese tourist attractions. After signing in with the guard at the gate I had free run of the place—and as you can see from some of the following photos, nobody minded me getting dangerously close to moving trains as the mechanics went about their daily routines.

Shuili Snake Kiln 水里蛇窯

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Making pots like a boss!

The Shuili Snake Kiln 水里蛇窯 is a wood-fired pottery kiln on the way to the popular Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 on the outskirts of , . The name is derived from the kiln’s serpentine shape, though to my eyes it looks more like a slug than a snake. Founded in 1927 by master potter Lín Jiāngsōng 林江松, it remained a family business for generations before being opened to the public as a “ceramics park” in 1993.

The Famous Teahouses of Jiufen

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The teahouses of Jiufen in the golden light of late afternoon.

The tiny mountain town of is one of Taiwan’s most iconic attractions. It prospered under Japanese colonial rule but slipped into steep decline after the closure of the nearby gold mine in the 1970s. In 1989 it was featured in A City of Sadness, the first Taiwanese film to openly address 228 Incident, which prompted a modest reversal in fortunes as it became a local tourist destination. The trickle of visitors became a flood in the 2000s with the release of Studio Ghibli’s beloved Spirited Away, an animated film featuring a supernatural town inspired by Jiufen’s unique history and appearance.

The quirky temples of Lotus Pond 蓮池潭

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A mysterious warrior on Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung.

Lotus Pond 蓮池潭 is a manmade lake in , , widely known for its quirky assortment of pagodas, pavilions, and temples. Earlier this year I made a short stop at Lotus Pond on the way to the old walled city of Zuoying a little further south. I like exploring temples in but was mildly concerned Lotus Pond would be a bit too touristy for my liking. Turns out I had nothing to worry about—and my brief tour of the southwest side of the lake was memorable and fun.

Sundown on Sun Moon Lake 日月潭

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A beautiful sunset on Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, Taiwan.

I finally got around to visiting Sun Moon Lake 日月潭, the largest lake in 1 and one of its most popular tourist attractions. Previously I knew it only by reputation as a scenic spot overrun by Chinese tourists. Now having seen it first-hand I can attest to the accuracy of that description—but I’d also add flashy temples and aboriginal-themed street food to the list. I enjoyed what food and tea I sampled and didn’t mind the Monday afternoon traffic so much, though the tour buses certainly pile up on the many turns as the highway winds around the lake.

Totoro Bus Stop in Taichung

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Totoro, No-Face, and the gang at a bus stop in Taichung.

loves Totoro, the iconic star of Miyazaki’s animated classic My Neighbor Totoro. Known locally to Chinese speakers as Duōduōlóng 多多龍 (or 豆豆龍) and—my favourite—Lóngmāo 龍貓 (literally “dragon cat”), Totoro recently appeared on the streets of alongside Chibi and Chu Totoro, numerous makkuro kurosuke (soot sprites) and No-Face (who appeared in Spirited Away). These life-sized, fan-made sculptures have drawn so much interest that the site even appears on Google Maps as Dàlǐ Totoro Bus Stop 大里龍貓公車站.

Anping Tree House 安平樹屋

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Oozing out of a window.

Anping Tree House 安平樹屋 is one of the main attractions in , the old colonial quarter of , and yet another example of disaster tourism in . I only got around to going over the lunar new year break despite having lived in Tainan for several months last year. I suppose the fact that it is an actual tourist attraction kept me from checking it out before, but I’m glad I went. Since a few of the photos turned out well enough to share I figure I may as well add it to in .