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.
Kuíxīng Temple 魁星宮 in Tamsui 淡水 is nominally dedicated to the eponymous Kuíxīng 魁星, god of examinations and one of the Five Wénchāng 五文昌, a group of deities representative of classical Chinese culture. He typically takes the form of a man balanced on one foot with a writing brush in one hand, his body twisted in a pose suggestive of the strokes of Chinese calligraphy. But you didn’t come here to read about Kuixing—this temple is notable for being one of only a handful of sites in Taiwan 台灣 venerating Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正, president of the Republic of China until his death in 1975, as a god.
Dōnghé Theater 東和戲院 is an obscure ruin in the small historic town of Shuangxi 雙溪 in the mountains of eastern Xinbei (New Taipei) 新北. Despite its diminutive size and remote location the town has a history going back to the Qing dynasty era. During the mining boom of the early 20th century Shuangxi became prosperous enough to warrant the establishment of an outpost of cinema. When the town’s fortunes declined so did this theater—but nowadays anyone is welcome to wander in and take a look at what remains here at the confluence of Mǔdān Creek 牡丹溪 and the eponymous Shuang River 雙溪.
Recently I returned to Cape Santiago 三貂角, the easternmost tip of the island of Taiwan 台灣, once again by way of the Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道. The far eastern shoreline is smothered in broken concrete and derelict industrial facilities, the fading legacy of an aquaculture industry in decline. One such facility is this, the most easterly building on the island, a crumbling ruin previously documented in my explorations of the Pacific edge. I suspect it might have been a pump station for there is a network of pipes running through jagged holes in the floor to the ocean sloshing around in the darkness below. This small room is infested with Ligia exotica, a cosmopolitan isopod known to locals as Hǎizhāngláng 海蟑螂, literally “sea cockroach”. This place has changed since I was last here. A chamber on the rooftop has collapsed into a heap of red bricks and twisted metal. Perhaps a close encounter with debris blown in by Typhoon Malakas was responsible—or maybe it’s the accumulation of elemental forces sweeping across this exposed headland. Whatever the case, it is interesting to witness these changes as my time in this land grows far longer than originally expected.
Yonghe Grand Cinema 永和大戲院 is one of dozens of derelict movie theaters in Greater Taipei. Like hundreds of other theaters all around Taiwan 台灣 this one went out of business in the early years of the new millennium due to changing consumer habits, a topic I have already discussed at length in previous explorations of places like Datong Theater 大同戲院 in Taitung City 台東市 and Xinming Theater 新明戲院 in Zhongli 中壢. Whereas theaters in the rest of the country are often left to the elements, sky-high property values in the Taipei 台北 area strongly incentivize owners to do something with these decaying buildings. In this instance the front of the old theater has been converted for the use of into a 7-Eleven convenience store and an Italian restaurant by the name of Lan De Pasta House 嵐迪義大利麵. I wonder whether patrons of these establishments realize what looms overhead?
Last January I shot this uncertain scene of a man looking over his shoulder as he crosses a curved bridge perfectly dividing the Sanchong 三重 skyline from the tranquil Tamsui River 淡水河. This is one of many images I have captured along the riverside bikeway on the western edge of Taipei 台北. Actually, this picture was taken not far from where I shot this more minimal skyline that same day, and it’s only a little north of the scenic stretch of river depicted here and here. There is something enticing about the unseen shoreline on the opposite side of the river…
Yesterday I ventured out to Tamsui 淡水 to have a closer look at this historic town in northern Taiwan 台灣. After a full day of tromping around forts, old streets, abandoned buildings, and temples I stopped in front of Qīngshuǐ Temple 清水巖 to watch the moon rise over the skeletal outlines of a gutted home now filled with poured concrete. Tamsui is more known for its sunsets but I have a habit of doing things differently. This shot is entirely handheld and, as such, the details are a little washed out and grainy, but it still looks nice at web resolutions. Moody and serene.
Recently my work on this blog was featured in an article by Nien Ping Yu 于念平 for the Chinese language web magazine BIOS Monthly. The article, loosely translated as Canadian Cultural Blogger: Even Unremarkable Places Have History (加拿大文化部落客: 再平凡的地方都有歷史), was based on a sprawling conversation we had in person rather than an email questionnaire. Mostly we spoke about themes and practices commonly seen on this blog: discovering history through the exploration of lost and neglected places, revealing intriguing connections through observations of synchronicity, and using photography as a documentarian medium rather than focusing solely on aesthetic appeal.
Several of my original photographs are featured in the article, some of which have already appeared on this blog (for example Fugang Old Street 富岡老街 and Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫) along with others yet to be published (mostly from the infamous Fuhe Grand Theater 福和大戲院 in Yonghe 永和). Other adventures referenced in the text include forthcoming material about Dadong Theater 大東戲院 in Zhongli 中壢 and the Liuzhangli Muslim Cemetery 六張犁的回教公墓 here in Taipei 台北.
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.