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.
These photos were taken two years ago after cycling through the Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 into Toucheng 頭城, Yilan 宜蘭. The first set of six photos were all shot along the rugged shoreline of the Láilái Geological Area 萊萊地質區 while the last four were captured at Mǎgǎng 馬崗, a half-abandoned fishing village on Cape San Diego 三貂角 (pinyin: Sāndiāojiǎo), the easternmost tip of Taiwan 台灣. All were captured in Gongliao 貢寮. From here the vast Pacific Ocean stretches all the way to Baja California in Mexico.
Pictured here are the ruins of a two-story stone house in the small fishing village of Mǎo’ào 卯澳漁村 in Gongliao 貢寮, the easternmost district of Taiwan 台灣. I captured it while cycling back from the far end of Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 late one afternoon. With daylight fading over the rugged eastern mountains I had little time to make sense of the historic plaque out front. I recall it saying something about this being a rice granary but what online sleuthing I have done suggests it was once the home of a rich family—hence the formal name Wu Family Old Stone House 吳家樓仔厝 (or Historic Stone Home 石頭古厝). Whatever the case, it certainly looks beautiful with a background of crepuscular rays.
Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway. The main point of entry is Fúlóng 福隆, a beach town in New Taipei City about an hour outside of Taipei 台北 by train. Riding through the old tunnel makes for a great day trip from Taipei 台北—as long as you don’t go on a weekend.