Hidden in the Alleyways of Monga

An abandoned building in a labyrinth of alleyways
An abandoned building in a labyrinth of alleyways in Wanhua District, Taipei.

Now and then I dust off some old photos and slip them into the regular flow of posts on my blog for reasons of nostalgia and reflection. This particular photograph would be quite unremarkable were it not for the fact that it represents one of my first forays into urban exploration in Taiwan.

Two days after landing in Taipei 台北 I was wandering through a labyrinth of alleyways in Wànhuá District 萬華區, not far from famous Longshan Temple 龍山寺, when I noticed a break in the wall. Squeezing through the gap, I stepped into a cramped space littered with garbage and debris. Turning around, I saw a building that was very modest in size, and became curious about what process of encystment has isolated this tiny place from the rest of the overcrowded city.

Months later I returned to the island for an extended period of time and my explorations began in earnest. Nowadays I am becoming something of an English language authority on urban exploration in Taiwan—but in a sense it all began right here, in this hidden place somewhere in old Monga 艋舺.