Recently I stopped in Shuǐlǐ 水里 while on my way to Pǔlǐ 埔里 by scooter. There, while waiting out a rainstorm on the main street in front of the historic train station, I noticed an unusual betel nut booth with a fetching green sign. “Chinese chewing gum” is a curious phrase, not one I recall noticing before, and it is also peculiar to see an exclusively English sign out here in the mountainous heart of the nation. Searching around, I chanced upon a short documentary describing betel nut as Taiwan chewing gum, which still sounds somewhat odd. What sort of gum gets you high and stains your teeth red?
The Shuili Snake Kiln 水里蛇窯 is a wood-fired pottery kiln on the way to the popular Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 on the outskirts of Shuǐlǐ 水里, Nantou. The name is derived from the kiln’s serpentine shape, though to my eyes it looks more like a slug than a snake. Founded in 1927 by master potter Lín Jiāngsōng 林江松, it remained a family business for generations before being opened to the public as a “ceramics park” in 1993.
This woodworking factory in Shuǐlǐ 水里, Nantou, is truly one of the most magical ruins in all Taiwan 台灣. During my first visit my companion and I chanced upon a white leather office chair deep inside the largest building in the complex. Although I spend most of my time behind the camera it was too good an opportunity to pass up. And so, with a little help, a moment was captured amidst the desolate beauty of one of Taiwan’s most splendid ruins.
Chēchéng Station 車埕車站 is at the end of the Jíjí Railway Line 集集線 in Nantou, the most central division of Taiwan 台灣. Take a stroll south from the tourist traps that greet you when you disembark from the train and you will find a sprawling complex of abandoned buildings that serve as overflow parking for this tranquil mountain town. Inside the derelict factory, once devoted to lumber processing, one will now find a forest reaching toward the shattered sky.