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Mingzhi Building 朙志樓

Yesterday while breezing through Taichung 台中 I snapped this photograph of the Míngzhì Building 朙志樓, a rundown residential complex for teachers at the school of the same name. At the time I was perplexed by the first character—an ancient variant of the standard Míng 明 (“bright”) commonly seen in place names around Taiwan 台灣—and it turns out I’m not the only one! A quick search revealed an entire Taiwanese news segment on the character, in no small part because of the colloquial usage of the character Jiǒng 囧, commonly used to signify embarrassment (for what I hope are obvious reasons), not unlike saying “oops” in English. From what I gather most Taiwanese would see this and think it were some kind of prank!

Apart from the novelty of the unusual character I was also charmed by the use of spiral motifs in the architecture of the building. This obviously dates back to the KMT authoritarian era. Maybe next time I’ll take a closer look…

Wattle + Decay

What might these walls have seen? I captured this scene while wandering around the former site of the Japanese colonial era Taichung Prison 台中刑務所, most of which is now just a parking lot. Many of the areas around the old prison haven’t been redeveloped, leaving pockets of urban decay all along this stretch of Línsēn Road 林森路. This particular home would have been located immediately outside and to the east of the main entrance to the prison (listed on this schematic as dàmén 大門). From the look of the old school mode of construction, wattle and daub, it was almost certainly witness to a great deal of history. Trace its contours while you can, I don’t imagine much of this will remain in five years time.

A Window Inside Shenji New Village 審計新村

Now that I know how to find and identify military dependents’ villages in Taiwan 台灣 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 Shěnjì 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.

A Vintage Lilac Mailbox

Last week I went out wandering in West Taichung 台中市西區, ostensibly to check out Zhōngxìng First Alley 中興一巷 (formally—and awkwardly—known as Fantasy Story 范特喜微創文化), an artsy district built into a row of old homes, when I noticed this unusual mailbox somewhere along Xiàngshàng North Road 向上北路. The fact that “letters” is written in English is no great surprise—see, for instance, this old letter slot in Taipei 台北—but never before have I seen one in this distinct and alluring shade of lilac.

With Teeth

I went for scaling in Taichung 台中. The head dentist was Harvard-educated, fluent in English, but the cost was a small fraction of what I’d be paying back home. They didn’t mind me snapping a shot of the x-ray, either. In case there’s ever any need to identify me from my dental records perhaps this post will be of service.