Recently I have gotten somewhat more serious about documenting ghost buildings, the faint traces of structures that once were. I found this particular example on Rén’ài Street 仁愛街 not far from the Hsinchu State Office 新竹州廳 (sometimes called the Hsinchu Municipal Government Hall) in Hsinchu City 新竹市. Google Street View reveals that this tiny space has been used for parking since at least 2009—but at some point someone must have made a life here in the spaces between.
The south side of central Taichung 台中 is undergoing massive changes with the opening of the new Taichung Station. Formerly one of the most rundown parts of urban Taiwan 台灣, it is now the front of the station, and many old and decrepit buildings like this house on Dàyǒng Street 大勇街 are being torn down to make way for lucrative new developments. It is a minor ruin, one for which I have uncovered no specific history, although a little sleuthing around on Google Street View indicates the building was still intact in February 2015 and boasted a simple signboard for a tea shop: 茶點複合式冷飲. Judging by the construction style I would guess this place dates back to the 1960s, give or take a decade. Gathered here are several photos shared more for their aesthetic appeal than intrinsic historic value.
Yesterday I made a brief stop in Wūrì 烏日 to located and document the Japanese colonial era stationmaster residence. A metal fence has been erected outside the residence so I went for a walk around the perimeter to look for another point of entry. Along the way I passed several derelict and abandoned homes of a more recent vintage. These homes were constructed in a more provisional style common to the KMT authoritarian era and were probably built to house railway workers or military veterans and their dependents—but that’s just a guess. Whatever the case, I was momentarily transfixed by the vivid shade of blue on the trimmings of one of these modest homes and lined up a shot of the overstuffed mailbox worth sharing. You may also notice duplicate address plates which reminds me—I’d love to know when various versions of those plates entered into use in different districts.
The new year dawns and I’m out on the streets with a ragtag group of approximately 50 people convened by the man behind Writing Taichung 寫作中區, a blog dedicated to exploring local history and culture through writing and illustration. The event is essentially an urban exploration walking tour, and while my Chinese proficiency isn’t high enough to understand much of what’s being said I am intimately familiar with most of the places we visit over the course of the next two hours.
Now that I know how to find and identify military dependents’ villages in Taiwan 台灣 I tend to stop off and check out any new ones I see in my travels. Last week while roaming around West Taichung 台中市西區 I made a quick visit to Shěnjì New Village 審計新村, an unusual military community not far from where I found that lilac mailbox I recently shared. Rather than the usual bungalows this village consists of almost American-style homes, most of them still in surprisingly good condition. This set of vintage windows on the upper levels caught my eye—and for this reason I’ll leave a small note here along with links to Chinese language blogs with more information here, here, and here.
Last year I explored the House of Success in Chiang Mai but wasn’t able to access the other abandoned building on site, the so-called White Lion House, for it was occupied by squatters. I am back for another visa run, this time with access to a scooter, so I made a point of returning to these palatial ruins in the northwest corner of the old town to see how they were doing. As luck would have it the squatters have left the building—so in I went, keen to gather material for a sequel to the original post.
This particular image immediately jumped out at me. Here you can see a pile of rubble through an ornate window on the ground floor. It looks unreal but I hardly modified the original at all. What a strange and beautiful sight in these extravagant ruins…
Pictured here is one of the windows of Miàolíng Temple 妙靈宮 on the outskirts of Fúgāng 富岡, a modest village in Yángméi 楊梅, Taoyuan I visited while riding around the countryside. The character at the center looks to be a very stylized representation of fú 福, a symbol of good fortune and prosperity I have written about previously on this blog. I have visited many temples in Taiwan 台灣 but don’t recall seeing anything quite like this before!
I found this broken window laying in a puddle in the ruins of a massive mining complex on the mountainside in Shuǐnǎndòng 水湳洞, Taiwan 台灣, on my third trip to the site. The rain put a real damper on the expedition but it also enhanced the feeling of emptiness and neglect that pervades the entire region.
Lukang 鹿港 is a city of many secrets and neglected places. I have been there maybe six or seven times by now and always find something new to catch my eye. A few days ago I was wandering along the alleyway with the urn wall 甕牆 just east of the main road through town when I chanced upon a bunch of abandoned homes that look to be from Japanese colonial times (the wood is a dead giveaway). The gate was open and inviting so of course I went to go take a look. About halfway up the stairs I looked to my right and captured this scene of decay, a serene moment frozen in time.
This is an abandoned school at the eastern terminus of Qingnian Road 青年路 in Tainan 台南. I can tell many people have been inside this ruin as graffiti—a rarity in Taiwanese abandonments—is visible from the street. I don’t have much more to say about this photo for a change—I’m posting it simply because I appreciate the brutal concrete inelegance of it all. No more teachers, no more books!