Dōnghé Theater 東和戲院 is an obscure ruin in the small historic town of Shuangxi 雙溪 in the mountains of eastern Xinbei (New Taipei) 新北. Despite its diminutive size and remote location the town has a history going back to the Qing dynasty era. During the mining boom of the early 20th century Shuangxi became prosperous enough to warrant the establishment of an outpost of cinema. When the town’s fortunes declined so did this theater—but nowadays anyone is welcome to wander in and take a look at what remains here at the confluence of Mǔdān Creek 牡丹溪 and the eponymous Shuang River 雙溪.
I found this rusty doorway around the back of an old red brick home somewhere around Zhongshan Station 中山站. Despite being in the middle of Taipei 台北 it is not an area I am familiar with but I am doing my best to remedy this oversight. When I pass through I do my best to wander down new roads and explore alleyways I don’t recognize. Sometimes I capture an intriguing scene like the one you see here. This is a mass-produced door I have many times before—but the exact pattern of decay is unique.
I found an old video game machine discarded in the back alleys of Hsinchu City 新竹市 the other day. I was walking by a street-side fruit stand when I noticed the stark outlines of an older building in a small laneway to one side. Stopping to explore, I found a storeroom for the fruit stand—and behind that, another abandonment, this time dating back to Qing dynasty times by the look of the distinctive bricks on the wall. I wonder what possessed anyone to dump this lone machine in such a place? Now just imagine plugging it in and seeing all the lights switch on again—it’s almost like the plot of some strange, fantastical film where the protagonist is then sucked into a secret world of the imagination.
Not much remains of the old Taipei Prison 台北刑務所 except the walls along the north and south sides of the prison grounds. Originally known as Taihoku Prison (after the Japanese name for Taipei), it was built in 1904 to incarcerate a burgeoning population of political dissidents, revolutionaries, and activists resisting Japanese colonial rule, though the authorities also imprisoned common criminals here as well. It was also the scene of the needless execution of 14 American soldiers a mere 58 days before the end of World War II. The KMT continued to operate the prison into the bleak years of the White Terror 白色恐怖 before razing it to the ground in 1963.
The Huātán Bāguà Kiln 花壇八卦窯 is a Hoffmann kiln located at the base of the Bagua Mountain Range 八卦山脈 in Huatan 花壇, a rural township just south of Changhua City 彰化市. Under Japanese colonial rule this part of Taiwan 台灣 specialized in brick and ceramic production. After the arrival of the KMT this industry continued to grow, with this particular kiln (one of several in the area) being built in 1964.
There is an abandoned house hidden in the overgrowth along highway 137 on the border between Huatan 花壇 and Changhua City 彰化市. I have seen it several times before but had not previously had the opportunity to stop and investigate. Today I took a closer look and my suspicions were confirmed—it was once a beautiful place. There are two floors, several bedrooms, wrought iron railings, and a balcony that wraps around most of the building. There is also a yard—a rare thing in Taiwan 台灣—that is now overgrown with plants, many of them sending tendrils in through broken windows.