While on a day trip to Wūlái 烏來 at the very end of 2013 I was delighted to stumble upon one of the most picturesque abandonments I have had the pleasure of exploring in Taiwan 台灣. Mere steps from the southern terminus of the Wulai Sightseeing Tram 烏來觀光台車 one will find a viewing platform across from Wulai Falls 烏來瀑布, one of the most scenic waterfalls in the greater Taipei 台北 area. What you might not realize—unless you have a sixth sense for all things abandoned—is that the viewing platform doubles as the rooftop of a derelict hotel with a rather stunning view.
I knew I would have to take a look the very instant I set eyes on the grimy stairwell descending from the viewing platform to parts unknown. Down I went, completely oblivious to the palimpsestic characters hanging over the boarded-up entrance. I have since then attempted to decipher the name of the place but it isn’t easily discerned. My best guess was Qīngqú Hotel 清渠大飯店 (literally “clear channel hotel”) but a reader wrote in the comments that it is actually Qīngpù Hotel 清瀑大飯店 (“clear waterfall hotel”) which makes a lot more sense. Surprisingly, not much seems to be written about this place in the Chinese language web from what I can tell.
Without having any idea what I had found I was initially very puzzled about the purpose of the building. Unlike many abandonments in Taiwan this place had been cleared out, leaving me few clues to work with. My first guess was a bar or restaurant—the main room had a great view of the falls and was about the right size for dining. I found a kitchen soon thereafter, adding some support for this hypothesis.
It all became clear when I went back outside, turned the corner, and took a closer look at the rooms on the ground floor. These were obviously bedrooms, each with a private entrance and a nice view of the scenery. The rooms also connected with a corridor inside the building that was much too dark for pictures. This corridor was empty but provided access to some of the rooms that had been locked from the outside. In one such room I found the skull of what I believe is a cat—the last guest, evidently.
I was left wondering about why such a place would be abandoned. Wouldn’t the retail value of a property fronting onto one of the most famous waterfalls in Taiwan prevent such an eventuality? I have learned in my many months of exploring Taiwan that there are countless reasons for abandoning a place, from prosaic to extraordinary. Someone could have died in one of these rooms, cursing the place, or perhaps the boss embezzled funds until the business was run into the ground. Maybe rent isn’t that high and the owners are waiting for the right offer to sell. It could be anything, really. Sometimes I can figure this stuff out from translating info I find on the web but not this time.
Whatever the case may be, only in Taiwan have I been able to arrive at star attractions with the expectation that I’d surely find something cool like this to explore. Oh, and perhaps I should mention that there’s a half-abandoned theme park and hotel above the falls too! But that’s the story for another post…