Featured here are a handful of photos and some notes from an incomplete exploration of the Changhua Railway Village 彰化台鐵宿舍村 (pinyin: Táitiě Sùshè Cūn) just across the street from the amazing Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫 in Changhua City 彰化市. While living there in the winter of 2014–2015 I made several lazy attempts to gain access to the more interesting and historic parts of the old village without success (mainly due to all the wild dogs around). The only part of the village I was able to explore were some of the newer KMT authoritarian era residential buildings on the edge of the block—which have much less aesthetic and historic value. That being said, since I’ve recently been filling in some archival content from my time in Changhua’s capital I decided to share these photos as well. This is not a full exploration by any means—so if I ever get around to seeing the rest of the old village I’ll be sure to update this post.
Several months ago, after researching and writing a piece about the Qingkunshen Fan-Shaped Saltern 青鯤鯓扇形鹽田 of Tainan 台南, I ventured out to Lukang 鹿港 in search of the Lukang Saltworks 鹿港鹽場, a Japanese colonial era saltern that shut down in the 1960s. Whereas there are several good resources outlining the history of southern Taiwan’s salt industry I found nothing similar for anything north of the Zhuóshuǐ River 濁水溪, the traditional dividing line between north and south Taiwan 台灣. Turning to Google Maps I browsed satellite imagery for evidence of salt evaporation ponds (here is a historic photo of one of Lukang’s salt fields to give you an idea of what I was looking for). I soon noticed a street by the name of Yánchéng Lane 鹽埕巷, literally “Salt Yard Lane”, as well as several sites with grid-like structures obscured by overgrowth. When the opportunity arose to borrow a scooter in the area I jumped at the chance to put this cartographic sleuthing to the test. Was there any chance I’d find some relic of an industry that vanished half a century ago?
Xinyi District 信義區 is now one of the most expensive and upscale parts of Taiwan 台灣 but it hasn’t always been that way. Decades ago it was an undesirable area on the edge of the city with a significant military-industrial presence, traces of which still remain if you know where to look. The open expanse of parks and parking lots around the intersection of Xìn’ān Street 信安街 and Wúxìng Street 吳興街 immediately to the west of Taipei Medical University 臺北醫學大學 is one such trace.
I stumbled upon the remains of Dawu Theater 大武戲院 while on a bicycle tour of southern Taiwan in 2015. Located in the small coastal settlement of Dawu 大武, Taitung 台東, it was in operation from 1969 to 1983. Taitung was home to 36 theaters in the cinematic heyday of the 1960s and 70s, all of which are now abandoned or destroyed. Hardly anything remains after three decades of exposure that would identify Dawu Theater apart from a small sign in the antechamber.
Jiānglíng New Village 江陵新村 was one of more than 800 military dependents’ village in Taiwan 台灣 before its ultimate destruction in mid-2015. It was formerly located not far from the confluence of Jingmei River 景美溪 and Xindian River 新店溪 just outside Taipei 台北 city limits in the northern part of Xindian 新店. Immediately to the south is an active military base of some kind—and the historic Jingmei Prison can be found on the opposite side of the nearest major intersection.
Spend any amount of time in Taiwan 台灣 and you’ll invariably see people burning ghost money, more generally known as joss paper in English and zhǐqián 紙錢 in Chinese. Pictured here is a particular kind of joss paper known as jīngyī 經衣, which features iconographic representations of the everyday goods spirits are likely to use in their daily lives. This batch is emblazoned with clothing, hats, shoes, combs, mirrors, scissors, cigarettes, matches, and various modes of transportation among other things I can’t reliably identify. The idea here is that you can burn this paper and these goods will be sent to the next world—and ghosts lingering in the area, their material needs met, will be more kindly disposed to the living. Ironically, burning joss paper is not exactly good for anyone’s health , nor is it environmentally-friendly to say the least.
Yesterday I went wandering around Hsinchu 新竹 to capture more of its old school charm. Along the way I snapped a quick photo of a vintage barber shop around the corner from the historic Hsinchu Zhǎnghé Temple 新竹長和宮 that proved to be surprisingly popular. Located at 26 Àiwén Street 愛文街26號, this is Wényǎ Barber Shop 文雅理髮店 (with Wenya meaning “elegant” or “refined”) and Míngzhū Beauty Salon 明珠美容院 (“pearl”). The building itself is rather odd, sandwiched between traditional courtyard homes and newly built residences, looking very much like a place out of time. The man inside the shop is even reading a newspaper!
Today I made a brief stop in Hsinchu 新竹 while returning from Taichung 台中 to my current abode in Taipei 台北. One of my targets for this little stopover was the former Hsinchu City Public Activity Center 新竹市民眾活動中心, something I only found out about because I’ve been following the Taiwan Ruins Research 台灣廢墟研究 group. Somebody (and I regret not taking note of whom) posted several photos from within the old activity center in recent weeks, noting that the city was finally starting to do something about this old space, which has spent at least the better part of the last decade acting as a “temporary” parking lot.
Taichung First Credit Union 台中第一信用合作社 is a post-war bank located in Central Taichung 台中市中區. According to this blog it was abandoned in 2001. Last week I went to go take a quick look while surveying the many historic buildings in the area. There were construction workers setting up in front and there were no other points of entry so I did not gain access. Even so, from a quick look inside the place appears to have been cleared out—and they might even be preparing to renovate the building for one reason or another.