A Stroll Through Fushui Village 富水里

Old homes in an abandoned section next to Jiahe New Village.

Fùshuǐ Village 富水里 is located on a small parcel of land at the southern edge of , , just to the west of Gōnggǔan Station 公館站. Technically the village contains the now-abandoned Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村, a military dependents’ village previously profiled on this blog, but most common uses of the name refer to the illegal settlement running along Yǒngchūn Street 永春街, just inside the riverside wall. This settlement of around a hundred homes, like nearby Treasure Hill 寶藏巖, was supposed to be destroyed around the turn of the millennium, but plans have gone awry, and its fate remains unclear.

Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村

Immediately outside the main gate to Jiahe New Village.

Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村 is one of more than 800 military dependents’ villages (Chinese: juàncūn 眷村) built in in the late 1940s and 1950s to provide provisional housing for KMT soldiers and their families fleeing from the Chinese Civil War. Around two million people crossed the Taiwan Strait from from 1945 to 1949, bolstering an existing population of approximately seven million. More than 600,000 of these Chinese immigrants ended up in military villages like this one in , , which was forcibly abandoned only a couple of years ago as part of a wave of urban renewal projects sweeping the nation.

The Birdman of Taipei Station

A bizarre work of public art in the bowels of Taipei Station.

This bizarre installation is one of the more iconic and well-known works of public art in . Created by artists Hé Cǎiróu 何采柔 and Guō Wéntài 郭文泰 in 2009, it is entitled The World in Aves’ Eyes 愛維思看世界 (alternately Birdman 鳥人 or Daydreams 夢遊) and can be found somewhere in the labyrinthine passageways beneath Taipei Railway Station 臺北火車站. Apart from the obvious, the immature, androgynous figure holds a pencil in its right hand (never to write a word), water continuously seeps from its neck, and its feet show the signs of a mild case of pigeon toe, a condition that should be familiar to anyone who has seen young Taiwanese posing for photographs. Here is the original creative statement that accompanies the piece:



My ability to translate Chinese remains limited, particularly when it comes to the sort of conceptual language employed above, but I’ll do my best to provide the gist. From what I can tell this piece is about the confusion and innocence of youth, of an entity in no hurry to grow up and face the challenges of the adult world. The grotesque bird’s head, disproportionate to the slender, prepubescent body, is meant to represent an exaggerated sense of alienation. There’s more—but I’ll leave it at that for now. You can find out more about this work on Facebook. Stay weird, Taiwan!

Futai Street Mansion 撫臺街洋樓

In front of the historic Futai Street Mansion in central Taipei.

Futai Street Mansion 撫臺街洋樓 is a building dating back to 1910. Located immediately to the south of Běimén 北門, recently the site of a major urban renewal project, it has been witness to more than a century of history here in the administrative heart of . For more information I recommend reading this great article in Taiwan Today, this Taipei Times feature, and this post by Aris Teon. The mansion also has an official Facebook page if you’re interested in whatever events they might be hosting.

A foreboding entrance

A haunting parking garage immediately south of Taipei Main Station.

I did not plan much about my first trip to in March 2013. It was only a brief stopover on my way back from to so it didn’t really matter to me what I did (as long as it wasn’t super expensive). I stayed for about five days and spent most of my time wandering around aimlessly, observing various features of the urban landscape with untarnished eyes. Even the most mundane scenes aroused some interest in me. For whatever reason the dim lighting, jury-rigged plumbing, and faint hint of decay surrounding this parking garage entrance just south of Taipei Main Station presented a scene I felt some need to preserve.

Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈

Outside the old Taipei City Council Building weeks before its ultimate destruction.

One of the more peculiar ruins I’ve seen in was a building immediately across from the Control Yuan 監察院, one of the five branches of government, on Zhōngxiào West Road 忠孝西路. It was inaugurated as the second home of the Taipei City Council 台北市議會 in 1964 after moving from nearby Zhongshan Hall 中山堂. In 1990 the city council relocated to its present base in and the building was converted into a police station before being completely abandoned in 2007. Despite this the building continued to be known as the Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈.

Eight days of destruction

Dismantling the elevated road next to Taipei’s North Gate.

One of the more peculiar events taking place this Lunar New Year is the destruction of an ugly extension of the Zhōngxiào Bridge 忠孝橋 leading east into . Built in 1982, this elevated road curves around mere meters from Běimén 北門 (officially: Taipei Fǔchéng Běimén 台北府城北門), the most authentic of the city’s remaining gates1 and the centerpiece of a huge urban renewal project.

A frenzy of activity surrounds Beimen over Lunar New Year 2016.

The mayor has allotted eight days for the destruction of this eyesore—and judging by the frenzy of activity I witnessed while riding by one afternoon they are well under way. I wasn’t the only one stopping to take photos either; there were dozens of people scattered all along the construction zone snapping photos of the project.

Much more could be said about this gate, of course, but I just wanted to share some photos of what little I saw of this moment in time.

  1. Most of the others were either destroyed by the Japanese or modified by the KMT to look more northern Chinese as part of a nationwide program of sinicization

Yongfu Bridge on a serene winter afternoon

Reflections in the tranquil Xindian River on a January afternoon.

One of the great things about the riverside bikeway in is that it functions rather well for commuting from one part of the city to another. When I was living near Jingmei I regularly cycled downriver to the many cafes near Táidà 台大. Nowadays I am staying in and have gotten into the same habit—though I am now cycling upriver to the same bunch of cafes. This afternoon, after seeing clear skies on the Central Weather Bureau’s radar, I cut through a break in the riverside flood wall to the parklands beyond. Maybe about 20 minutes later I arrived at Gongguan and, immediately prior to exiting the system, snapped this quick photograph of the distinctive Yǒngfú Bridge 永福橋 that crosses over from the southern tip of into .

It’s a chopper, baby

A chopper on the streets of Zhongzheng District, Taipei.

I was exploring the streets to the west of Taipei Botanical Garden 台北植物園 in the other day when I noticed this curious scene at the end of an alleyway. Someone has obviously taken it upon themselves to spruce up this otherwise ugly concrete building with some salvaged wood and a rusty old car door, now bolted in place. The chopper is an unusual sight as well—you don’t see so many of those around, particularly not without a seat.

Imprisoned in the endless city

A piece by Alex Face around back at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Today I noticed some great new street art around back at Huashan 1914 Creative Park. With a little help from a friend I was able to trace this back to a November event hosted by POW! WOW! Taiwan featuring Thai street artist Alex Face. Pictured here is an incarnation of Mardi, a recurring bunny-suited baby inspired by Alex’s daughter. For more about the artist check out this interview.