After spending a day riding around Pingtung City I was ready to hit the road again. With no specific destination in mind—only an intention to head in the direction of Héngchūn 恆春, far to the south—I checked out of the vintage homestay I lodged at the previous night, stopped at Eske Place Coffee House for a delicious and healthy vegetarian breakfast, changed into cycling wear, and exited the city to the east. I knew almost nothing about where I was headed or what I might see on the third day of my south Taiwan ride in 2015. I only had one stop planned in advance: a hospital in Cháozhōu 潮州 rumoured to be abandoned. I didn’t know it at the time but I would spend almost the entire day riding through the historic Hakka belt of Pingtung 屏東.
While I was out riding in southern Taiwan last year I chanced upon an abandoned church by the roadside in a small village outside of Cháozhōu 潮州, Pingtung 屏東. I only spent about ten minutes there and didn’t shoot many photos but have since realized that the story to tell is interesting enough to devote a full post to it. The formal name of this place is Jiǔkuàicuò Catholic Church 九塊厝天主堂, though this is commonly prefixed with Cháozhōu 潮州 to distinguish it from the many other villages with the same name in Taiwan 台灣. Details are scant but I should be able to provide a broad overview of how this church came to be here—and why it was left to the elements.
I noticed this old-fashioned western-style mansion on the outskirts of Cháozhōu 潮州 in Pingtung 屏東 while cycling through the deep south of Taiwan 台灣 in 2015. In a sea of ugly metal shacks and bland concrete apartment blocks it is a rare pleasure to encounter a building like this one. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to learn something of the history of such places. Usually with some knowledge of the local area and the family name on the facade I can piece something together from blogs and government records—but this time I’m stumped, and I’m not the only one. Just about all that is known for certain is the name, Liu House 劉厝, which came up in some real estate records. Based on my growing familiarity with Japanese colonial era architecture I would guess this mansion dates back to the 1930s or so.