Taichung Sunset Before the Storm

Typhoon Nepartak has come and gone without impacting Taichung 台中 hardly at all. Almost no wind or rain afflicted the city as the typhoon was torn apart by passage over the mighty Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 far to the south, leaving me without a good tale to tell or any dramatic photos from within the storm.

Yesterday I shot a few interesting photos after climbing up to the top of the notorious Qianyue Building 千越大樓, an abandoned high-rise not far from the central station, to get a nice view of the entire Taichung Basin 台中盆地. Previously I published a long shot of the “UFO” on top of the building and here’s one more, this time of the setting sun over the west side of the city.

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Rooftop Reflections at the Qianyue Building 千越大樓

Today I climbed to the top of the Qianyue Building 千越大樓, an infamous ruin within sight of the central train station in Taichung 台中. I was up there to get a view of the mountains to the east—and perhaps a glimpse of the oncoming storm—but the horizon was a blur. Instead I turned my lens to a pool of rainwater, capturing a reflection of the “UFO” on top of the building. This was actually a rotating karaoke bar before it almost burned down years ago. I wonder how it’ll fare in when Typhoon Nepartak arrives later tonight?

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Miaokou Night Market From Above

Pictured here is the most iconic stretch of Miaokou Night Market 廟口夜市 in Keelung 基隆, Taiwan, likely as you have never seen it before. This night market is named for its location at the entrance to Dianji Temple 奠济宫 (“Miaokou” literally means “temple entrance”) and is easily recognized by the orderly rows of lanterns above the many vendors that line the street. Lanterns, a regular feature of the Taiwanese urban landscape, are often strung up as a visual cue to direct people to a given temple, which should explain their use here.

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Zhongli Caishen Building 中壢財神大樓

In my first dispatch from Zhōnglì 中壢 I shared a photograph of the Caishen Building 財神大樓, a rundown entertainment complex next to the train station that I meant to explore at some point. Not long after posting that I got around to checking it out—and much to my surprise, despite the incredibly rundown exterior most of the building is still occupied by hotels, daytime dance clubs, mobile phone booths, and other businesses serving the many Southeast Asian migrant workers of Táoyuán 桃園. There is, however, one part of the building that seemed obviously abandoned from street level; the skeletal outline of some kind of UFO-like structure on the rooftop demanded further investigation.

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Dreaming Over the Rooftops

I captured this photograph after having a nap in a short-term hotel in Yǒnghé 永和 on my birthday. I was up far earlier than I wanted to be and overestimated by readiness for the day—but this being Taiwan, I knew I could purchase a nap without much trouble or expense. Sure enough, after checking out a couple of hotels near an old school breakfast shop I often frequent when I’m in the area I found a place with a decent bed that offered three hours for a mere 380 NT (about $15 back home). I wonder if the counter staff were amused that a foreigner would wander in one morning and book a room for its intended purpose, the gift of sleep?

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Postcards From Kowloon 九龍明信片

Kowloon 九龍 was my first experience of Asia back in 2012. Anytime I return to Hong Kong 香港 I stay there for at least a couple of nights. It helps that many of the most affordable hotels are located in Kowloon—but I also like how gritty, rundown, and real it is, particularly when compared to the naked display of wealth and privilege seen on the other side of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island 香港島 itself.

Last weekend I crossed the strait for a brief visa run and, after finding an excellent deal on a hotel on Agoda, once again found myself lost in the immensity of Kowloon. Naturally I spent a good part of my trip wandering around the city documenting my impressions. Collected here are several of my photos from this trip…

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From the Rooftop of Shinjuku Plaza 西門新宿

It is seldom very hard to gain rooftop access in Taiwan. Stairwells are seldom locked and security is often lax, especially in older buildings. Residents take advantage of the situation by planting gardens or storing junk on rooftops. Illegal apartments are also exceedingly common, creating hidden networks in the sky instead of underground.

Pictured here is the rooftop of Shinjuku Plaza 西門新宿 in Ximending, a busy part of downtown Taipei 台北 known for nightlife and youth culture. I stayed here for a few days prior to leaving Taiwan for awhile and wandered upstairs to see the view at some point or another. True to form, someone had built a home off camera to the right, in amidst the boilers and pressure gauges that litter the concrete rooftop.

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My First Look at Taipei

Recently I rifled through my archives and dredged up the first image I captured in Taipei 台北—in March of 2013. At the time I had just arrived from Malaysia and checked into a serviced apartment near Songjiang Nanjing Station booked via AirBNB. After stowing my gear and readying myself to explore the nearby streets I stepped out onto the rooftop and aimed my camera across the laneway to memorialize this mournful concrete skyline. I can say with absolute certainty that I had no idea I would return—and for so long.

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The Infamous Chungking Mansions From The Rooftop

On my final day in Hong Kong 香港 I returned to Chungking Mansions 重慶大廈 for the third time to elucidate more of its secrets. Much to my surprise I found a rooftop access point unlocked and, with trepidation, stepped across the threshold onto the top of Tsim Sha Tsui. The view all around was incredible with buildings towering overhead but I was most fascinated by the global village beneath my feet. Chungking Mansions is organized into six towers—and here I was able to peer into the very heart of the complex, to put my finger on the pulse of this worldly microcosm.

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