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.
Taiwan is an unusually rich place for anyone interested in mapping out urban and industrial histories through the exploration of abandoned, disused, and neglected places. Gathered here are full reports and field notes from some of my many adventures around the country.
The Leaning Tower of Su’ao 蘇澳斜塔
There are plenty of crummy old apartment blocks in Taiwan, many of them abandoned and left to the elements. I seldom take more than a cursory look any more since they’re so easy to find—just ride or walk around and look for open or broken windows. Most of the time there isn’t much to look at inside and anything valuable or interesting has almost always been removed. Even so, I stopped for a moment to investigate this particular building in Su’ao 蘇澳, a township in Yilan 宜蘭, and was mildly surprised with what I found.
A Traditional Home in Dacun 大村三合院
Today I would like to take you inside an abandoned sanheyuan 三合院, a traditional Taiwanese courtyard home. This particular home is in Dacun 大村, a rural township in Changhua 彰化, but it is not unique. The Taiwanese countryside is littered with thousands of these old homes, many of which have fallen into disrepair and abandonment over the years. I have given this place a name but it is merely a description of convenience. Chances are it has no formal name.
Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部 is a surprising find in Guanziling 關子嶺, the most famous and well-developed hot springs town in Baihe 白河, Tainan 台南. I went to stay there one night in the spring of 2014 to have a look—but I didn’t expect to find an abandoned club next door to where I was staying. I should have known—this is Taiwan, an urban exploration utopia. There are abandoned buildings absolutely everywhere. Sometimes you will get lucky and discover someplace cool without even trying.
An Abandoned Home on Yinhe Road 銀河路老屋
One fine morning in February 2014 I decided to go out riding. I had seen photos of a beautiful cliffside temple next to a waterfall in Xindian 新店 and it looked to be within easy reach of my place in Jingmei. I set out for the highway leading to Pinglin, passing through the sprawl of southern Taipei 台北 under the warm winter sun. The roadway began to steepen as I reached the outskirts of the city. Struggling against gravity—but enjoying every minute of it—I ascended into the hills before taking a turn onto Yinhe Road 銀河路 (the literal translation of which is “silver river”, better known to us as the Milky Way).
Yongye Road Hotel 永業路旅館
I was out cycling through Bitan in Xindian 新店 one night when I noticed a big building with blown-out windows looming over Yongye Road 永業路. The skeletal outline of a collapsed rooftop against the umbral sky confirmed my suspicions: this building was abandoned. It was too dark to take a closer look that particular night but I vowed to return.
Encore Garden 亞哥花園
Encore Garden 亞哥花園 is an abandoned theme park in the hills above Taichung 台中 in Taiwan. I learned about this urban explorer’s dream after reading up on Katolis World 卡多里樂園, another abandoned amusement park in Beitun 北屯. I was dismayed to find out that Katolis World was demolished years ago but then I found this post confirming the existence of another abandonment nearby. With the clues provided—and some Google Maps sleuthing; those Street View cameras really get around these days—I was able to identify a likely target in the hills above the main highway. Apart from that I knew very little about what I was getting myself into at Encore Garden—there is almost no other information available on the English language web.