Cǎotún 草屯 is an urban township located in the northwest corner of Nantou on the border with Taichung 台中 and Changhua 彰化. It is remarkable mainly for being home to a large weekend night market and a couple of unusual temples.

Nantou Road Trip 2015: Taichung to Puli

The sluggish Wu River sweeping through the eastern plains of Caotun Township, Nantou County.

In October 2015 I set out from Taichung 台中 to attend a music festival in Nantou, the landlocked county in the mountainous interior of Taiwan 台灣. Since I don’t often have an opportunity to ride a scooter I allocated some extra time for onward exploration and ended up visiting many interesting and wonderful places, many of them quite obscure. What follows is the first part of a mostly visual record of this road trip around the geographic center of Taiwan…

Brutalist Parkade

Just a parking garage.

Cǎoxiédūn Public Parkade 草鞋墩公有立體停車場 is an intimidating structure looming over one of the main commercial shopping streets in Cǎotún 草屯, Taiwan 台灣. I was there in search of an abandoned theater but was immediately impressed with the strikingly brutalist design of this multi-storey car park. It is merely a place to park so there’s little more to say, though it would seem that it was recently derelict. Probably the only other tidbit of information worth conveying is that “Caoxiedun” refers to the original name of the town. You can be sure the first settlers never imagined this monument to honest architecture standing in their newly sown fields.

Caotun Night Market 草屯夜市

Caotun Night Market offers a jarring architectural mix of ersatz vintage brickwork and owlish shipping container chic.

Tonight I visited one of the biggest night markets in Nantou, the Cǎoxiédūn Tourist Night Market 草鞋墩人文觀光夜市 in Cǎotún 草屯. Located at the north end of town, the sprawling open air Caotun Night Market offers a somewhat unusual twist on the Taiwanese night market formula of meals, snacks, drinks, cheap goods, clothing and accessories, and fairground games. I have now visited more than a dozen night markets in this area of Taiwan 台灣 and this one definitely stands out.