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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 Zhōngzhèng District 中正區, Taipei 台北, 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.

More abandoned homes along a short alley in Fushui Village.
A mosaic of old and new.
This probably won’t last through another typhoon season.

I won’t repeat much of what I’ve already covered in my feature-length piece about Jiahe New Village so I suggest reading that before digging into this particular entry. Fushui Village represents another element of post-war history in Taiwan, namely that for the 850+ registered military dependents’ villages there were many more unofficial shantytowns built on public land by desperate veterans and their families. It doesn’t seem as if historians have studied these illegal settlements nearly as much as their official counterparts so I haven’t much source material to build on while writing this post. That being said, by reading between the lines we can make a few educated guesses about what was going on here.

On the main thoroughfare running through Fushui Village.
Crude shacks line the laneway behind the university campus. You can see the building on the other side of the wall is abandoned.
Many residents collect junk on the streets of Taipei. Several of the shacks along the laneway contain bags full of cans and bottles waiting to be sorted.

One thing that struck me while exploring Jiahe New Village is how the two communities blend together at the margins. There is a wall at the perimeter of the registered community but it is difficult to discern in parts, a consequence of the organic mode of construction that took shape on both sides as the decades wore on and the dream of returning to China began to fade. Many of the homes outside the wall look much like those on the inside but there aren’t any of the more spacious models that were presumably reserved for officers and other bigwigs. Only the most disadvantaged veterans would have lived outside the gates.

The entrance to a home in Fushui Village.
A dark entrance.

Come to think of it, there’s no reason to believe that Fushui Village would have consisted entirely of veterans—regular Taiwanese probably would have been able to settle there as well. Nowadays the remaining residents are mostly elderly, as one would expect, although there are also a few middle-aged blue collar workers—mostly taxi and delivery truck drivers—and at least a few schoolchildren. Of course the village is also home to several of Taipei’s ubiquitous trash collectors, probably the same ones that can often be seen collecting bottles outside of Pipe, a live music venue just down the street.

Door of a rusty truck in the village. Many residents drive blue delivery trucks and taxis.
An intriguing home, the Tree House, in Fushui Village.

Both villages are due to be demolished and transformed into a riverside disaster relief park at some point. Jiahe New Village has already been emptied out—so what’s the hold-up with Fushui? As near as I can tell it mostly comes down to the compensation and resettlement plan. Residents evicted from officially registered military dependents’ villages are typically given a choice between a cash payout or a spot in public housing. I would imagine such initiatives are funded by the military or some branch of government—but what about the relocation of the mostly poor and elderly residents of Fushui Village? How is compensation to be determined and who pays for it?

Fushui Village on a gloomy day.
A demonic doorway in Fushui Village.
Late at night in Fushui Village.

My guess is that various administrations have been kicking this particular ball down the field over and over again. The new mayor signaled readiness to deal with the issue but I haven’t found anything more recent than last year. What happens next is anyone’s guess—but if you’re interested in visiting this village I suggest going soon. It won’t be around forever.

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