Skip To Content

Xinbei (New Taipei) 新北

Xinbei 新北 (generally known as New Taipei in English) is an administrative division of Taiwan 台灣 surrounding Taipei 台北. Technically it is the mosts populous city in Taiwan but that's mainly because it includes much of Taipei's urban sprawl. There isn't any sort of unified identity to New Taipei; it's merely an administrative contrivance. That being said, New Taipei is home to some of the coolest stuff within easy reach of the big city. The attractions are far too numerous to list and start with historic Tamsui 淡水, the hot springs of Wulai 烏來, the twin mining towns of Jiufen 九份 and Jinguashi 金瓜石, Fulong Beach and the Old Caoling Tunnel in Gongliao 貢寮, Yeliu Geopark and the UFO village in Wanli 萬里, and the entire Pingxi 平溪 railway corridor, among others.

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村

Rows of homes inside Jiangling New Village
Into the rewilding lands beyond the busy city streets.

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.

A Pedestrian Bridge Over The River Wall in Yonghe

A bridge over the river wall in Yonghe
Crossing back into the city from the riverside park in Yonghe.

Pictured here is a grungy old pedestrian bridge over the flood wall in Yonghe 永和. This is immediately across Xindian Creek 新店溪 from the bulk of Taipei 台北, where it is more common to see the wall punctuated by regular gates. The sign reads rénxíng lùqiáo 人行陸橋 (pedestrian bridge), jìnzhǐ pānpá 禁止攀爬 (no climbing).

Sanchong Scooter Style

Pimpin’ ride in Sanchong
A tricked-out scooter in a park near the riverside in Sanchong.

I spied this scooter in a public park on the edge of Sanchong 三重 on the first day of 2016. It isn’t unusual to see people personalize their scooters in Taiwan 台灣 in crude, folksy ways—but this one stands out for the extent and nature of its customizations. Perhaps someone was sprucing up an elder’s ride to make it more visible on the road? Whatever the reason, the end result is rather amusing.

A Funky Fish Shack in Jinguashi 金瓜石白帶魚米粉湯

A funky fish restaurant on the mountainside in Jinguashi
The funky fish shack from the sloping streets below.

Jinguashi 金瓜石 is a historic mining town on the far side of Jiufen 九份 from Taipei 台北. Unlike Jiufen—which has become insanely popular and rather overdeveloped in recent years—Jinguashi maintains a small town charm that belies an unusual concentration of historic sights, rewarding hikes, and offbeat attractions. One great example is the funky restaurant perched on the hillside to the right of Cyuanji Temple 勸濟堂 (pinyin: Quànjìtáng), easily identified by the huge gold statue of Guān Gōng 關公 perched on the rooftop. The restaurant, as I have learned, is simply named for their signature dish: báidàiyú mǐfěntāng 白帶魚米粉湯, a kind of fish and rice noodle soup.

Jingtong Erkeng Old House 菁桐二坑老屋

Abandoned in Jingtong
An abandoned home on the outskirts of Jingtong, an old mining town in the mountains of Pingxi 平溪.

Several years ago I went hiking in the mountains north of Jīngtóng 菁桐, an old coal mining town in Pingxi 平溪, and found this abandoned home on the way back down. Technically it is located in Èrkēng 二坑, literally Second Pit, the tiny village that sprawls upslope from the railway station. At that time I was quite new to exploring abandoned places in Taiwan 台灣 and had no idea what to make of it. Under what circumstances did the former resident depart? Why did they leave almost everything behind? These are questions without any answer.

A Dinosaur Dystopia in New Taipei

Dinosaur park beneath a bridge in Zhonghe
A post-industrial wasteland occupied by garish reptilian statues and murals? Welcome to New Taipei!

What is it with Zhonghe 中和 and dinosaurs? There are a whole bunch on the road leading up to Hōnglúsāi Mountain 烘爐塞山 at the south end of the district and more recently I stumbled upon an infestation beneath Huázhōng Bridge 華中橋 after cycling over from Wanhua District 萬華區. Formally known as the Huazhong Riverside Park 華中河濱公園, the recent addition of so many weird statues and quirky murals featuring primordial reptiles has earned it the name of New Taipei Dinosaur Park 新北市恐龍公園. I won’t spoil the fun by showing more of what else you’ll find there—but if you’re curious you can look up many more articles in Chinese here, here, here, here. Oh, and never mind the construction in the background, that’s just part of the post-industrial charm of Xinbei!

Explorations of the Pacific Edge

Pacific edge

These photos were taken two years ago after cycling through the Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 into Toucheng 頭城, Yilan. 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.

Changjiang Road Shops 長江路商店

A row of abandoned shops at the foot of Huajiang Bridge
An abandoned row of shops at the entrance to Banqiao. These were once repair shops, hair salons, variety stores, and so on.

Last week I cycled across the Huájiāng Bridge 華江橋 to Banqiao 板桥 to meet a friend for coffee. At the foot of the bridge I couldn’t help but notice the outline of a long-abandoned building of some kind, the sort of place where you’ll find scooter repair shops and other small businesses along any main road in Taiwan 台灣. Not having found anything close to a formal name for the place I have simply named it for the street it is on, Chángjiāng Road 長江路.

A Spooky Statue in Yonghe

Spooky statue in an abandoned apartment in Yonghe
The strange things you find when exploring abandoned places at night.

Found this spooky statue in an abandoned apartment complex in the heart of Yonghe 永和 the other night. The rest of the building seemed to have been gutted in a fire but one unit was accessible—so I stepped inside to take a peek and satisfy my curiosity. There really wasn’t much of the place, possibly a professor’s home, but this creepy old bust on the ground floor caught my eye. I wonder who this is a depiction of? And was there any reason for him to have been facing the wall?

Sanchong Wintertime Skyline

Sanchong skyline on a murky day in late January
Sanchong skyline on a murky day in late January.

I went out riding along the riverside bikeway in Taipei 台北 this afternoon, crossing from my current abode in Wanhua District 萬華區 to the old quarters of Datong District 大同區 by way of Yánpíng Riverside Park 延平河濱公園. Along the way I captured this ordinary image of the Sanchong 三重 skyline across the pallid Tamsui River 淡水河 and beneath the grey skies of midwinter. It is neither beautiful nor outstanding but part of what I do around here is record little slices of everyday life—and the symmetry of the image appeals to me on some level.