Jiāmǔzǐ Bay 加母子灣 is a beautifully remote and scenic stretch of coastline just north of Taitung City 台東市 in Dōnghé 東河, Taitung 台東. It is also home to the gutted ruins of an abandoned mínsù 民宿 (a funky bed and breakfast or homestay-style inn) readily visible from just about anywhere along the bay. While cruising along the coastal highway on my first Taiwan bicycle tour in late 2013 I stopped two stops to take a closer look: once beneath the moody remnants of Typhoon Usagi and again on a sunny afternoon the following day.
Back then I wasn’t skilled in researching abandoned places in Taiwan and didn’t know anything about the place. More recently I dug through the archives, cleaned up the photos I shot back then, and figured out what it was likely called: Jiamuzi Bay Minsu 加母子灣民宿. Armed with the Chinese name (and more than two years of additional experience) I was able to find out a little more about it, which is the impetus for this post.
Thanks to the collective memory of the internet I have been able to establish that this minsu shut down sometime prior to 2008. The details are unclear to me but my impression is that it wasn’t a legal business and the government eventually shut it down after public outcry. There is a common pattern of development along this stretch of coast: developers collude with corrupt government officials to secure permits and favorable environmental impact assessments, construction begins (and may even reach completion), and at some point activists and concerned citizens (many of them from local indigenous groups) respond with protests, and eventually the government intervenes to shut things down. This is also the story with Nache Villa 那界行館, which is located along the highway next to the ruins featured in this post, as well as the infamous Miramar Resort Hotel 美麗灣渡假村 on the outskirts of Dulan (see also: here and here).
The building featured in this post is only one of several on site. I didn’t bother taking a closer look at any of the others at the time—mostly because they weren’t all that interesting or I could not gain access. Apart from the main building (which may or may not have had any actual guest rooms, it’s hard to tell) there were also several cabins down by the beach, a bar, and a roadside cafe by the name of Coffee Liáo 咖啡寮. The skeletal concrete structure in the photographs served as a sort of clubhouse with great views of the bay. The view remains as awesome as ever but this is no longer the sort of place you’re going to stop for coffee and waffles!
Although there isn’t much of anything to see from within the abandoned clubhouse (or whatever it was) this place does provide some insight into Taiwanese construction methods. Pretty much any modern building is a concrete shell with a whole bunch of extra stuff bolted on. Even the brick exterior of this building was just for show. The interior has been stripped since it was abandoned—perhaps in preparation for demolition that nobody has gotten around to yet.
One thing I found quite interesting is that I was able to turn up some photos from when the minsu was still in business. Usually I have no way of knowing what a place looked like when it was still in use—but in this case you can see for yourself by browsing photos here, here, here, and here.
I often say that Taiwan is paradise for urban exploration—and in this case I am being literal as well as figurative. Even so, I look forward to the day when Jiamuzi Bay is restored to a more natural state. It really is a beautiful place… and this shabby ruin is not magnificent enough to add much of anything to it.