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.

In Rust We Trust

Blooming in neglect.

This rusty iron flower blooms on the doorframe of an building at the edge of an unusually dilapidated community hidden in the streets opposite Jiànguó Holiday Flower Market 建國假日花市 and just behind Shin Yi Market 信義市場 in , . I never would have found the place had Taiwan Reporter not pointed it out to me; it isn’t visible from any major road and one would assume there were nothing more than boring residential high-rises back there. Much to my surprise there’s what appears to be a temple in the midst of a labyrinth of crooked laneways and old homes. I hope to write it up in a future post—but in the meantime, trust in .

A Rusty Gate in Yuanlin

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A rusty gate in the back alleys of Yuanlin.

Yesterday I returned to , the city where I really started blogging about , for a lazy day of exploration and discovery. I was interested in revisited places I thought I knew something about to see how the years have sharpened my ability to observe and document the urban landscape. I’ll have more to post about this trip at a later date—but for now I’d like to add another photograph to my growing collection of . This particular example of the genre was collected just off Wànnián Road 萬年路 (“Ten Thousand Year Road”, a recurring pattern in Taiwanese place names) in a half-abandoned complex of what looks to be late or early factory worker dormitories. There is a huge abandoned factory on the opposite side of the main road that might explain things. I wonder what it produced? A cursory search reveals nothing.

In The Act Of Decay

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A rusty door in the back alleys of Zhongshan District. Taipei.

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 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.

Rust Dragon

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A rusting dragon curled around the center of a door in Yonghe.

Wander along the many alleyways of and you’re guaranteed to encounter one of these mass-produced metal doors affixed with a dragon like the one pictured above. This particular example happened to catch my eye—it is unusually weathered with a big streak of below, not unsurprising given the incessant rain and humid climate.

A Rusty Old Mailbox in Jingmei

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A mailbox on the mountainside in Jingmei, Taipei.

I’ve always been a fan of gritty , peeling paint, rusting metal, and the like. is a kind of twisted paradise in this regard—there’s so much rundown stuff to explore and capture on film. Case in point: what we have here is an old mailbox emblazoned with the Chinese word for the same: xìnxiāng 信箱. You may notice, however, that the text reads right-to-left, the more traditional way. It isn’t at all uncommon to walk down a street and see layouts that go in either direction—but you can bet that anything written right-to-left is old (or seeking to evoke a sense of age). I’ve asked many Taiwanese people how they know which direction to read text in and have only heard, at best, vague answers—you’ll just know.