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A Close Encounter With An Atlas Moth

An Atlas moth perched on a chair in Taoyuan
An Atlas moth perched on the leg of a chair at a Hakka restaurant in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Last week I went out for a day of exploration with Josh Ellis who brought me to the excellent Lǎotóubǎi Hakka Restaurant 老頭擺客家餐廳 in Lóngtán 龍潭, Taoyuan. This restaurant is operated out of an old farmhouse (or sanheyuan, a traditional Taiwanese courtyard home) so I wandered around to take a look at each room before our meal arrived. Stepping out into the courtyard an employee gestured toward a giant moth perched on the leg of a chair. I had seen Neil Wade post one just like it on Facebook a few days prior to this so I wasn’t exactly surprised—but wow is it ever large!

Longtan Strange House 龍潭怪怪屋

Yeshan Building from the back
Longtan Strange House from the back garden. I suppose it is better to be obscured by trees than garish advertisements.

Longtan Strange House 龍潭怪怪屋 is a notorious architectural oddity on the northern edge of Lóngtán 龍潭 in Taoyuan, Taiwan 台灣. In Chinese it is also known as Yè Fābāo’s Strange House 葉發苞怪屋, after its owner and lead designer, and is officially named the Yeshan Building 葉山樓. It has been under construction for decades but at some point the money ran out and the owner has plastered it with advertisements, ostensibly to raise money to complete the project. Nowadays there is little to see beneath the incredible number of promotional banners hanging off the side of the building.

Taiwan Bicycle Tour 2013: Taipei to Zhubei

Leaving Taipei behind
Looking back along the riverside park in Wanhua on the way across the bridge to Banqiao.

This is an account of the first day of my bicycle tour around Taiwan. I began at the paifang outside Liberty Square 自由廣場 in Taipei 台北 and ended up in Zhúběi 竹北, a newly-built city just outside of Hsinchu 新竹, covering a distance of approximately 80 km, most of that after nightfall.