Puli was my home base for several days of road tripping and adventure around Nantou in October 2015. Recently I decided to publish my findings and impressions from this trip despite not knowing much about what I was seeing at that time. Most of the other posts in this series document trips from one place to another but in this post I’m focusing on some of what I found within city limits, starting with some history to put everything in context.
Taitung City, the administrative capital of Taitung, was my final destination on a multi-day bicycle tour around southern Taiwan in the summer of 2015. Previously I shared words and photos from every day on the road so this post will act as something of an epilogue. Start at the beginning or read the last chapter to get up to speed—or treat this as a singular post about some of what I saw in an extra day of exploration around the most remote major city on the Taiwanese mainland.
Yesterday’s impromptu ride around the riverside bikeway network delivered me to the palatial Grand Hotel (Yuanshan Dafandian 圓山大飯店), a famous landmark in Zhongshan, Taipei. Located on a hilltop overlooking a bend of the Keelung River (基隆河), it was established in 1952 at the behest of generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to provide the ruling elite with a luxurious place to host and entertain foreign dignitaries. The distinctive building seen in these photos was completed in 1973 and was the tallest building in the Free Area of the Republic of China until 1981.
The Geographic Center of Taiwan (台灣地理中心) is a modest roadside attraction at Hutoushan (虎頭山, literally “Tiger Head Mountain”) in Puli, Nantou, on the way to bigger attractions like Qingjing Farm (清境農場). As the name implies, it marks the geographic center of the island of Taiwan, albeit with a bit of a twist: there are actually two monuments here, one at the base of the mountain and another near the peak at 555 meters above sea level. It’s about a ten minute hike to get to the real center of Taiwan!
The Ogon Shrine 黄金神社 (also known as the Gold Temple) is an abandoned Shinto shrine in the mountains above Jinguashi 金瓜石, an old gold mining town in Ruifang, Taiwan. Built in 1933 by the Nippon Mining Company while Taiwan was under Japanese rule, it was mostly destroyed in the post-war era by vandals. Even so, it’s in better shape than almost every other Shinto shrine in Taiwan apart from the Taoyuan Martyrs’ Shrine 桃園忠烈祠 and Kagi Shrine 嘉義神社 in Chiayi City. The incoming KMT government went to great lengths to expunge the island of Japanese influences.