Tiny Spaces

Recently I have gotten somewhat more serious about documenting ghost buildings, the faint traces of structures that once were. I found this particular example on Ren’ai Street 仁愛街 not far from the Hsinchu State Office 新竹州廳 (sometimes called the Hsinchu Municipal Government Hall) in Hsinchu City 新竹市. Google Street View reveals that this tiny space has been used for parking since at least 2009—but at some point someone must have made a life here in the spaces between.

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An Empty Shell on Dayong Street 大勇街屋

The south side of central Taichung 台中 is undergoing massive changes with the opening of the new Taichung Station. Formerly one of the most rundown parts of urban Taiwan, it is now the front of the station, and many old and decrepit buildings like this house on Dayong Street 大勇街 are being torn down to make way for lucrative new developments. It is a minor ruin, one for which I have uncovered no specific history, although a little sleuthing around on Google Street View indicates the building was still intact in February 2015 and boasted a simple signboard for a tea shop: 茶點複合式冷飲. Judging by the construction style I would guess this place dates back to the 1960s, give or take a decade. Gathered here are several photos shared more for their aesthetic appeal than intrinsic historic value.

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Return to Sender

Yesterday I made a brief stop in Wūrì 烏日 to located and document the Japanese colonial era stationmaster residence. A metal fence has been erected outside the residence so I went for a walk around the perimeter to look for another point of entry. Along the way I passed several derelict and abandoned homes of a more recent vintage. These homes were constructed in a more provisional style common to the KMT authoritarian era and were probably built to house railway workers or military veterans and their dependents—but that’s just a guess. Whatever the case, I was momentarily transfixed by the vivid shade of blue on the trimmings of one of these modest homes and lined up a shot of the overstuffed mailbox worth sharing. You may also notice duplicate address plates which reminds me—I’d love to know when various versions of those plates entered into use in different districts.

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Iron Butterflies

The new year dawns and I’m out on the streets with a ragtag group of approximately 50 people convened by the man behind Writing Taichung 寫作中區, a blog dedicated to exploring local history and culture through writing and illustration. The event is essentially an urban exploration walking tour, and while my Chinese proficiency isn’t high enough to understand much of what’s being said I am intimately familiar with most of the places we visit over the course of the next two hours.

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A Window Inside Shenji New Village 審計新村

Now that I know how to find and identify military dependents’ villages in Taiwan I tend to stop off and check out any new ones I see in my travels. Last week while roaming around West Taichung 台中市西區 I made a quick visit to Shenji New Village 審計新村, an unusual military community not far from where I found that lilac mailbox I recently shared. Rather than the usual bungalows this village consists of almost American-style homes, most of them still in surprisingly good condition. This set of vintage windows on the upper levels caught my eye—and for this reason I’ll leave a small note here along with links to Chinese language blogs with more information here, here, and here.

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Unreal Portal

Last year I explored the House of Success in Chiang Mai but wasn’t able to access the other abandoned building on site, the so-called White Lion House, for it was occupied by squatters. I am back for another visa run, this time with access to a scooter, so I made a point of returning to these palatial ruins in the northwest corner of the old town to see how they were doing. As luck would have it the squatters have left the building—so in I went, keen to gather material for a sequel to the original post.

This particular image immediately jumped out at me. Here you can see a pile of rubble through an ornate window on the ground floor. It looks unreal but I hardly modified the original at all. What a strange and beautiful sight in these extravagant ruins…

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An Ornate Temple Window in Rural Taoyuan

Pictured here is one of the windows of Miaoling Temple 妙靈宮 on the outskirts of Fugang 富岡, a modest village in Yángméi 楊梅, Táoyuán 桃園 I visited while riding around the countryside. The character at the center looks to be a very stylized representation of fu 福, a symbol of good fortune and prosperity I have written about previously on this blog. I have visited many temples in Taiwan but don’t recall seeing anything quite like this before!

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Wood and Window

Lukang 鹿港 is a city of many secrets and neglected places. I have been there maybe six or seven times by now and always find something new to catch my eye. A few days ago I was wandering along the alleyway with the urn wall 甕牆 just east of the main road through town when I chanced upon a bunch of abandoned homes that look to be from Japanese colonial times (the wood is a dead giveaway). The gate was open and inviting so of course I went to go take a look. About halfway up the stairs I looked to my right and captured this scene of decay, a serene moment frozen in time.

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Abode of Law

Pictured here is a notorious ruin at the eastern terminus of Qingnian Road 青年路 in Tainan 台南. It was formerly used as staff quarters for the Tainan branch of the Taiwan High Court but the property has been idle since at least 2010. Its prime location, obvious state of abandonment, and ease of entry has made it popular with graffiti artists, curious university students, and other thrill-seekers, but I never got around to scoping out the interior despite living down the street for a few months. In any case, I appreciate the institutional inelegance of the brutal concrete architecture on display here. If you’d like to know more try this news story, this article, or search for Tainan High Court Staff Quarters 台南高等法院員工宿舍.

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