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House of the Butterfly

There is an abandoned house hidden in the overgrowth along highway 137 on the border between Huātán 花壇 and Changhua City 彰化市. I have seen it several times before but had not previously had the opportunity to stop and investigate. Today I took a closer look and my suspicions were confirmed—it was once a beautiful place. There are two floors, several bedrooms, wrought iron railings, and a balcony that wraps around most of the building. There is also a yard—a rare thing in Taiwan 台灣—that is now overgrown with plants, many of them sending tendrils in through broken windows.

One image in particular arrested me: the sight of this forlorn butterfly embedded in landing of the central staircase. The golden sun oozed in through frosted glass, casting it in a most splendid illumination. I stopped to think about how many little feet had pounded up and down these stairs over the decade and what their lives might have been like. Why do places like these get left behind anyway? People would rather live in sheet metal shacks or concrete high-rises? It is a mystery to me.

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