Línkǒu 林口, now the fastest-growing suburban district in the greater Taipei 台北 area, was once home to more than 30 brick factories, the highest concentration in northern Taiwan. Shengtai Brick Kiln 勝泰磚窯, at the far northern extent of the Linkou Plateau 林口台地, is one of the last remnants of this once-flourishing brick-making industry. Numerous ruins can be found across the sprawling site but the most impressive is a Hoffmann kiln, easily identified by its broken chimney. Hoffmann kiln technology was introduced to Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era but this particular kiln only dates back to the mid-1960s, and it has now been abandoned for many decades.
People’s Park In The Sky is a peculiar attraction located about 60 kilometers south of Manila in Tagaytay, a popular leisure destination in the province of Cavite in the Philippines. Perched on top of Mount Sungay at an elevation of 709 meters, the highest point on the northern rim of the immense Taal Caldera, it was originally planned to be a palace suitable for state visits during the kleptocratic reign of Ferdinand Marcos. Construction began in 1979 with a drastic leveling of the mountaintop, which previously reached 759 meters, but ground to a halt with increasing civic unrest and the cancellation of Ronald Reagan’s state visit in 1983. Following the People Power Revolution of 1986 the unfinished mansion was transformed into a public park and monument to the greed, corruption, and excess of the Marcos era.
These photographs were taken in early October 2013 while hiking around Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山國家公園. After meeting up with a friend we took a bus from Jiantan Station 劍潭站 in Shìlín District 士林區 to Lengshuikeng with the intention of checking out Milk Lake 牛奶湖 (pinyin: Niunaichi). Racing up the meandering mountainside roads we soon found ourselves immersed in an interminable fog. Debarking at the bus stop, with hardly another soul around, we decided to wander around and see what we could make of our time in Yangmingshan.
Collected here are a series of dreamlike photos from a road trip into the misty mountains of Lùgǔ 鹿谷 in Nántóu 南投, central Taiwan. I undertook this trip with a friend in July 2014. Our goal was the Lotus Forest 忘憂森林 (pinyin: Wangyou Senlin), also known as the Misty Forest 迷霧森林, a high mountain bog formed in the aftermath of the catastrophic 921 earthquake when a landslide altered drainage patterns, forming a small lake and drowning part of the existing forest. At an elevation somewhere close to 2,000 meters, the Lotus Forest is often shrouded in thick fog, imbuing it with an eerie mystique that attracts Taiwanese people from all over the island.
I visited Yangmingshan 陽明山 in October 2013 and was delighted to find the entire park shrouded in fog. There is something sublime about being lost in the misty mountains—especially with the fierce winds sweeping over the peaks. Fog usually implies a state of calm but conditions were quite harrowing on the way to Qixingshan 七星山, or Seven Star Mountain, the highest in the park.
This particular image was captured down in Lengshuikeng 冷水坑 (“cold water pit”) at the Jingshan Suspension Bridge 菁山吊橋. Ordinarily this bridge provides a view of the famous Niunaichi 牛奶池 (“milk pond”) but it was nowhere to be seen. I could hardly even discern the far end of the bridge, which is not large. It was a spellbinding moment, like taking a step out of time into a place with no past or future.
Today I went out for a brief motorbike excursion along highway 151 in Lùgǔ 鹿谷, a mountain township on the south side of the Zhoushui River 濁水溪 in Nántóu 南投, the geographic center of Taiwan. It was bright and sunny down by the wide gravelly river but cool and misty up in the bamboo and red cedar forest. I should have packed an umbrella for the mist eventually turned to rain—but for I didn’t mind getting a little wet, the scenery was worth it. Coming down out of the clouds was particularly unreal with visibility of only a few meters and 15 kilometers of winding mountain switchbacks to navigate before returning to civilization. That’s one of the beautiful things about Taiwan: as long as you have the mountains nearby it isn’t long before you can truly lose yourself in nature.
Vancouver recently lay under cover of fog for days. This prompted me to grab my camera to find out what could be captured of such mysterious atmospheric conditions. I ventured out into Stanley Park with a tripod one night only to discover that there really isn’t any light to work with. I couldn’t discern the skyline through the thick mire. In fact, I could hardly even see a few meters in front of me. I called that mission off and headed out the next day over Burrard Bridge, around False Creek, and back to the West End by way of Gastown. This time I did not bring a tripod—hence the grainy quality of some of these later photos, all of which were shot by hand with a fixed 35mm lens.