Yesterday I went on a short tour of Linkou 林口 inspired by the opening of the Taoyuan Airport MRT and the proliferation of YouBike stations to the exurbs of Taipei 台北. 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.
This rusty iron flower blooms on the doorframe of an abandoned 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 Da'an District 大安區, Taipei 台北. 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 Qing dynasty era 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 rust.
Yesterday I returned to Yuanlin 員林, the city where I really started blogging about Taiwan 台灣, 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 abandoned doors. 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 Japanese colonial era or early KMT authoritarian era 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.
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.
Wander along the many alleyways of Yonghe 永和 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 rust below, not unsurprising given the incessant rain and humid climate.
I’ve always been a fan of gritty textures, peeling paint, rusting metal, and the like. Taiwan 台灣 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.