Another curious seal on the window of the abandoned coast guard

Keelung Road Guest House 基隆路招待所

Not far from Taipei 101 and the heart of Taipei’s central business district one will find an ulcerous anomaly on the supine body of the sprawling city. It would be impossible to miss this ruin, for a wild riot of plant life traces its angular outlines, and an unusual assortment of graffiti gilds the arcade along Keelung Road. I regularly ride by here on my way to various working cafes further afield and naturally couldn’t resist taking a look inside one day. I have not puzzled out the formal name of this abandonment but strongly suspect it was an official guest house related to the armed forces, particularly as it was located adjacent to the former #44 West Village (四四西村), a military dependents’ settlement.

Buried beneath the overgrowth on Keelung Road
Buried beneath the overgrowth on Keelung Road.
Enter the garden
The hidden garden behind the green sheet metal barrier.
An overgrown building on Keelung Road
Overgrown in the shade.
Wrapped in vines
Wrapped in vines.
An abandoned coast guard facility beneath the overgrowth
It looks like any other modest apartment block in the area.

Take refuge from the busy streets and you’ll find yourself secreted away to a world left to the predations of the subtropical jungle. Almost every surface is overrun with roots and vines. Even in the midday heat the courtyard, shaded by palms, is refreshingly cool—but also home to an energetic variety of insect pests. Still unsure of what I had found on my first visit, I proceeded to the entrance around front.

The main entrance to the coast guard facility
The main entrance to the building offers no clues.
The lobby of the coast guard facility on Keelung Road
Inside the main lobby. Off screen to the right is a sign that says “hat counter”.
ROC regalia
ROC regalia.
ROC coast guard uniforms
Coast guard uniforms.

Immediately inside one is greeted with the appearance of a hotel. Vibrant red carpets line the floors and a wide staircase spirals up the front of the building. A lone sign on the wall reads zhìmàoguì 置帽櫃, a place to hang your hat. Bundles of uniforms laying on the ground suggest this place once held some official function.

Recreation room gone too far
A completely wasted room on the ground floor. Perhaps this was a dining area, for it is close to the kitchen and appears to have housed a bar and a washroom.
Beams of light in the bathroom
Beams of light stream into the ground floor bathroom.

One of the more curious features of this ruin are the seals on almost every window in the building, all of which are dated to March 9th, 2006. This neatly establishes exactly when this place was abandoned—but why? What turn of events prompted the former residents to depart?

Sealed shut in 2006
All the windows were sealed on March 9th, 2006.
Another curious seal on the window of the abandoned coast guard
Another seal on a balcony on the second floor.
On the second floor at the abandoned coast guard club house
Few artifacts remain on the second floor commons.
Red carpet in the ruins
Red carpeted stairs lead up to the third floor near the front of the facility.
One of several bedrooms on the third and fourth floors
One of several bedrooms on the higher levels.
Nothing remains of this bedroom
Nothing remains of this bedroom. The flooring, exposed to the elements, has been rotting away.
China Times from 2002
China Times from November 14th, 2002.
Another abandoned newspaper from 2002
Another newspaper, this time from November 12th, 2002.
Sweet dreams of nothingness
Sweet dreams of nothingness.
Cameo appearance
Yours truly making a cameo appearance in a bedside mirror.

Spacious rooms on the first and second floors indicate this guest house could have been used for dining and entertainment. The second floor even has a dumbwaiter to bring food up from the ground floor kitchen. Upstairs one will find about five or six bedrooms as well as an office with a big desk, now a decaying pile of wood laying at odd angles on the floor.

Around the bend of the last decade
Hands last graced this turn of the banister more than a decade ago.
Beautiful light coming through the windows
The most beautiful feature of the building is windowed stairway at the back.
Gateway to the rooftop of an abandoned building on Keelung Road
Gateway to the rooftop garden.
Taipei 101 from the rooftop of an abandoned building
Taipei 101 from the rooftop of the abandoned coast guard facility on Keelung Road.
On top of the overgrowth
An accidental rooftop garden.
The exit from the rooftop is barely discernible
The rooftop exit is barely discernible beneath the overgrowth.
The hungry forest
The hungry forest.
Dazzling red
Deep red carpeting lining the stairway at the front of the building on the way back down.
Broken remains of the ground floor kitchen
Broken remains of the ground floor kitchen.
A glimpse of the basement
A glimpse of the basement.
Utility room in the garden
A utility room in the garden. Someone has been squatting here.
The vines in black and white
The vines in black and white.
Banyan roots by the entrance to the abandoned coast guard facili
Banyan roots by the secret entrance to this abandoned building on Keelung Road.
Mr. Ogay on the walls of an abandoned building on Keelung Road
Mr. Ogay and Candy Bird both make appearances on the outer walls of the building. Too bad some jackass bombed everything in sight.
The telltale sign of an abandoned building in Taipei
The telltale sign of an abandoned building on Keelung Road in Taipei.

This particular ruin evades detailed explication but there is, at least, a general sense of what may have transpired within this space. If nothing else, the aesthetics of a decade’s rewilding have a certain appeal, and the view of Taipei 101 from the rooftop sets it apart from most other ruins. As far as I know only the nearby Stanton Club affords nearly as nice a view.

The guest house was completely sealed in early 2017 and razed to the ground in 2018. Nothing remains except these photographs.