In June 2015 I undertook a bicycle trip from Tainan to Taitung City, where I spent an extra day wandering around to get more of a feel for Taiwan’s remote southeastern capital. Mere minutes after leaving my hotel, immediately after chancing upon the historic Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館, I noticed the stark outline of an abandoned building at the end of a short laneway leading off of Zhongzheng Road 中正路. After taking a closer look I realized it was yet another abandoned movie theater, of which there are many scattered all around Taiwan.
The Qianyue Building 千越大樓 is one of the most recognizable ruins in central Taiwan. Located only a short distance from Taichung Station 台中車站, it is impossible to miss if you bother to look up at some point while walking deeper into the city. This mixed-use commercial and residential high-rise was originally built in the 1970s and, thanks to its location at the very heart of the famous Taichung Electronics Street 台中電子街商圈, reached its apex during the consumer electronics boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Today is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and it is a record-breaking 30°C in Taipei. In Chinese culture it is customary to consume tangyuan (湯圓, glutinous rice balls typically immersed in hot, sweet soup) on winter solstice, better known to locals as Dongzhi (冬至), a time when families gather together and celebrate growing one year older. Since I have no family here I will be lining up at 36 Yuanzi Shop (三六圓仔店) for a bowl sometime later on—though I might just skip this particular ritual if the line-up is too crazy. Two years ago I was informed, contrary to expectations, that you won’t actually age without eating tangyuan on dongzhi. If I miss it this year I suppose I won’t mind.
The massive ruins of the Yutian Automotive Factory 羽田汽車工廠 are located on the Dayeh University campus in Dacun, Changhua. There are four main buildings, each approximately 360 meters in length and 90 meters across for an estimated total of 32,500 square meters apiece. Outside of the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park 彰化濱海工業區 in Lukang (which opened in 1995) these buildings are probably the largest in the county—and the entire complex is readily visible from space.
Here is yet another roadside curiosity in the deep south of Taiwan: a false tunnel on the coastal plains of Fangshan, Pingtung. It doesn’t cut through any mountainside nor is it built to withstand landslides. It’s just an 1,180 meter tunnel that trains pass through for no discernible reason. I first read about this on Michael Turton’s blog and later saw it on my first round-the-island bicycle tour. More recently I took a spin around the southern loop once more, and spent a little extra time examining this concrete oddity in an attempt to divine its purpose.
I have been living next to the magnificent ruins of the Qiaoyou Building 喬友大廈 in Changhua City for the last several months. Not a day goes by where I’m not walking or riding by this hulking derelict, looking up and wondering about what I might find inside. I had some general idea, of course, as I already recognized the building for what it was: one of many shopping and entertainment complexes built in central Taiwan during the economic boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of these former showpiece properties have been abandoned in the decades since, usually due to some combination of mismanagement, declining fortunes, and fire damage.
Jinshuncheng Hoffmann Kiln 金順成八卦窯 is located on the eastern Changhua Plain 彰化平原 in Huatan, a rural township south of Changhua City. During the Japanese colonial era this part of Taiwan specialized in brick and ceramic production due to plentiful supplies of high-quality clay, and the industry continued to expand after the arrival of the KMT. This particular kiln only dates back to the early 1960s and is the last of its kind in Changhua. For that reason the county government designated it a historic building in 2010 but very little has been done to clean the site and make it inviting to visitors.
Tainan Chinatown 臺南中國城 is a half-abandoned and soon to be demolished shopping mall and entertainment complex in Tainan City. Built in 1983, it was designed by C.Y. Lee, a famous architect who later directed the construction of 85 Sky Tower and Taipei 101. I went by to shoot a few photos with some friends one sunny afternoon in January 2014 so I figure I may as well share them here.
Harbour City 海灣新城 is an imposing ruin sprawling along the coastline not far from Cape Fugui 富貴角 at the northernmost tip of Taiwan. I first noticed it on my round-the-island bicycle tour last year but did not stop to explore, having already spent much of my daylight riding time poking around the UFO houses of Wanli.
More recently I set out on a two-day urban exploration road trip with a friend from the Netherlands. Late in the afternoon on the first day we were thrown out of an abandoned amusement park in nearby Jinshan. Not having anything better to do with the remaining hour or so of daylight, I suggested we make our way up the coast to Shimen to investigate the ruin I had seen the previous year.