Jukuiju 聚奎居 is an abandoned mansion in Wuri 烏日, Taichung 台中, built in 1920 by Chen Shaozong 陳紹宗, a wealthy businessman and landowner. The architecture is a combination of the traditional Taiwanese sanheyuan 三合院 (a U-shaped building with three parts surrounding a central courtyard) and the Baroque Revival style of the Japanese colonial era. It is located on the rundown, industrial margins of the city, along an otherwise unremarkable lane next to a military base, looking completely out of place in space and time.
This beautiful western-style house is located along a country road in Puxin 埔心, a rural township in the heart of Changhua 彰化, central Taiwan. It was built in 1940 by a man by the name of Huang Yi 黃義, a wealthy employee (presumably an executive) of the Japanese colonial era Taiwan Sugar Company 台糖公司. If this government source is to be believed Huang Yi had five wives who bore him five sons—and some unknown number of daughters. No wonder he needed such a large house!
I moved to Changhua City 彰化市 in November 2014 to see what it’s like living in a traditional town in central Taiwan. I had an interesting time staying in Tainan 台南 for three months earlier that year so I figured why not give Changhua 彰化 a shot for the wintertime? Changhua is nowhere near as lively and interesting as Taiwan’s old southern capital but it is not without charm. Here I have gathered up some of the more representative images I captured during my first two months of residency, mostly of the area immediately to the east of the train station, which also happens to be the oldest part of town. Explanations are given in the caption of each photo, where available.
I found myself in the seedy port town of Keelung 基隆 near the end of my round-the-island bicycle tour of Taiwan in 2013. Later on, after dinner was done, I went out wandering the labyrinth of night—and, on the far side of the railway line near Sankeng Station 三坑車站 I noticed the entrance to a tunnel running beneath the hillside. Curious, I hunched down (the clearance is only around 175 cm) and made my way through. A minute later I emerged on the other side, somewhat disoriented, though I quickly regained my bearings.
I was off the main road in Gushan Village 姑山里 in Dashu 大樹, a hilly rural district in Kaohsiung 高雄, when I noticed a row of old buildings next to a small temple. Stopping to investigate, I unslung my camera and snapped a few shots, not quite realizing what I was looking at. My mind was elsewhere—a consequence of two hard days of riding in the tropical summer sun. I was, at the time, heading south to the railway line after making it to Qishan the night before and touring through Meinong 美濃 earlier in the day. Only later, when I went to develop the photos, did I notice the faint traces of the Japanese rising sun flag in the top right corner of the building pictured above. At one point these stone flags must have been painted bright red, a reflection of Japanese imperial interests in Taiwan.
The Liu Family Mansion 劉家古厝 in Minxiong 民雄, Chiayi 嘉義, is one of the most famous ruins in all Taiwan. Situated in the countryside just outside of town, this old Baroque Revival-style red brick building is more informally known as the dreaded Minxiong Ghost House 民雄鬼屋. It was built in 1929 for Liu Rongyu 劉溶裕, a businessman with seven children, and appears to have been abandoned sometime in the early 1950s, not long after the end of Japanese colonial rule.
Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway. The main point of entry is Fulong 福隆, a beach town in New Taipei City about an hour outside of Taipei 台北 by train. Riding through the old tunnel makes for a great day trip from Taipei 台北—as long as you don’t go on a weekend.