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A Short Ride Around Western Taoyuan

A river running through Xinwu
A river running through the Taoyuan countryside somewhere on the outskirts of Xinwu.

Last October, while living in Zhongli, I ventured out into the countryside for a random bicycle ride on Halloween. Like most of my rides I didn’t have a route planned or anything, only a general intention of checking out the obscure Fugang Old Street 富岡老街 about 15 kilometers west of the city. Along the way I followed my intuition (with a little help from Google Maps) and captured photographs of anything interesting and unusual I came across. Featured here are more than two dozens pictures from this ride through parts of Zhōnglì 中壢, Xīnwū 新屋, Yángméi 楊梅, and Pingzhen in western Taoyuan.

Just Out Of Reach

Missing pieces in Fugang Village
Shelving on the streets: the remains of a home demolished during a road widening project in Taoyuan.

On my way to Fugang Old Street 富岡老街 in Yángméi 楊梅 I noticed something peculiar jutting out of a building high above the street. A closer look revealed this to be a vintage teal shelving unit still attached to the wall, a reminder that someone’s home once stood here. No doubt the building that formerly occupied this space had been demolished as part of a road widening project—proof of which seemed evident in the presence of a sidewalk below my feet, an unusual sight for a small town in rural Taiwan 台灣. Thanks to the magic of Google Street View’s history feature I was able to confirm this hunch and even identify the name of the shop out front, Jiāfāng Restaurant 嘉芳飲食店, which was still there as recently as 2012. These figments of the past, much like the shelf on the wall, remain just out of reach.

Fugang Old Street 富岡老街

Fugang Old Street 富岡老街
The heart of Fugang Old Street on a gloomy day.

Fùgāng Old Street 富岡老街 is an obscure anachronism in the western part of Taoyuan, Taiwan 台灣. It extends from a railway station that opened during the Japanese colonial era in 1929 through the heart of this small Hakka town. The coming of the railroad brought prosperity to the area and several ornate shophouses were built around the station in a mishmash of architectural styles common at the time. Nowadays it is just another street in rural Taiwan, albeit one with a little more history than most, possibly because it is too unimportant a place for modernization to have swept away these vestiges of the past.

An Ornate Temple Window in Rural Taoyuan

A beautiful window in Fugang
An unusually beautiful window found on the outskirts of Fugang in Taoyuan.

Pictured here is one of the windows of Miàolíng Temple 妙靈宮 on the outskirts of Fúgāng 富岡, a modest village in Yángméi 楊梅, Taoyuan I visited while riding around the countryside. The character at the center looks to be a very stylized representation of fú 福, a symbol of good fortune and prosperity I have written about previously on this blog. I have visited many temples in Taiwan 台灣 but don’t recall seeing anything quite like this before!