Postcards From Linnei 林內明信片

Tobacco Barn in Rural Linnei

Linnei is a small rural township located on the south side of the Zhuoshui River in northeastern Yunlin, Taiwan. Despite its strategic position on the Western Trunk Line this township remains mostly pastoral and undeveloped, with little industrial activity compared to neighboring Douliu, the administrative seat of the county. Population in the township peaked at nearly 23,000 in the 1970s and has been declining ever since, recently falling below 18,000 as rural flight continues apace. Nowadays the local economy mostly revolves around agricultural products such as rice, bamboo, and tea, but Linnei was once a major center of tobacco cultivation, traces of which can be found scattered across the countryside.

Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區

Kezikeng New Community, Zhushan

Located on the outskirts of Zhushan, Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區 is one of several public housing projects constructed in the aftermath of the 921 Earthquake that devastated central Taiwan in 1999. Despite providing much-needed relief for those who lost their homes in the disaster there were few buyers—and today the complex remains mostly empty and disused. Built with government funds, this poorly-conceived housing project has become yet another example of what Taiwanese call mosquito halls, a term popularized by artist Yao Jui-chung 姚瑞中 and a team of student researchers known as Lost Society Document. Since 2010 they have published six volumes of Mirage, a series of works identifying more than 800 disused public properties all around the country. Some of their work was translated into English—which is how I found out about this particular locale, which I briefly visited in the summer of 2017.

Hsinchu City Public Activity Center 新竹市民眾活動中心

Peering into the former Hsinchu City Activity Center

Today I made a brief stop in Hsinchu 新竹 while returning from Taichung to my current abode in Taipei. One of my targets for this little stopover was the former Hsinchu City Public Activity Center 新竹市民眾活動中心, something I only found out about because I’ve been following the Taiwan Ruins Research 台灣廢墟研究 group. Somebody (and I regret not taking note of whom) posted several photos from within the old activity center in recent weeks, noting that the city was finally starting to do something about this old space, which has spent at least the better part of the last decade acting as a “temporary” parking lot.