Xinhua Old Street 新化老街 is one of the finest old streets in all Taiwan. Located in Xinhua 新化, Tainan 台南, the street is lined baroque revival and art deco buildings from the Japanese colonial era. Most of the buildings on the western side of the street date back to the 1920s whereas the eastern side features a more modernist style from the late 1930s.
Jukuiju 聚奎居 is an abandoned mansion in Wuri 烏日, Taichung 台中, built in 1920 by Chen Shaozong 陳紹宗, a wealthy businessman and landowner. The architecture is a combination of the traditional Taiwanese sanheyuan 三合院 (a U-shaped building with three parts surrounding a central courtyard) and the Baroque Revival style of the Japanese colonial era. It is located on the rundown, industrial margins of the city, along an otherwise unremarkable lane next to a military base, looking completely out of place in space and time.
Mere minutes after setting out from my hotel to explore Chiang Mai I stumbled upon a bizarre building in a mostly empty lot just inside the old city walls. I swear I don’t always go looking for abandoned places—sometimes they find me instead. And in this case I couldn’t very well say no, now could I? I walked up the stairs to take a closer look at this ostentatious ruin, the House of Success.
Beigang 北港 is a historic town on the riverside border between Yunlin 雲林 and Chiayi 嘉義 in southern Taiwan. I made a brief, unplanned stopover in Beigang while riding north to Changhua 彰化 in the summer of 2014. I was only vaguely aware of Beigang’s existence, having at some point read something about Chaotian Temple 朝天宫, one of Taiwan’s most famous Mazu 媽祖 temples, but I had a hunch that there might be more to see—and I was right! If you enjoy visiting traditional towns with a lot of history then Beigang should definitely be on your list.
This beautiful western-style house is located along a country road in Puxin 埔心, a rural township in the heart of Changhua 彰化, central Taiwan. It was built in 1940 by a man by the name of Huang Yi 黃義, a wealthy employee (presumably an executive) of the Japanese colonial era Taiwan Sugar Company 台糖公司. If this government source is to be believed Huang Yi had five wives who bore him five sons—and some unknown number of daughters. No wonder he needed such a large house!
I moved to Changhua City 彰化市 in November 2014 to see what it’s like living in a traditional town in central Taiwan. I had an interesting time staying in Tainan 台南 for three months earlier that year so I figured why not give Changhua 彰化 a shot for the wintertime? Changhua is nowhere near as lively and interesting as Taiwan’s old southern capital but it is not without charm. Here I have gathered up some of the more representative images I captured during my first two months of residency, mostly of the area immediately to the east of the train station, which also happens to be the oldest part of town. Explanations are given in the caption of each photo, where available.
Last year, near the end of 2013, I had the good fortune to move to Wenshan District 文山區, the southernmost part of Taipei 台北. In late September I was nearing the end of my first round-the-island bicycle tour and put a call out on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a place I could stay for a month or so. That call was answered—and I ended up staying with a couple of cool European guys for six months before heading south to Tainan 台南 in April 2014.
The Asia Museum of Modern Art 亞洲現代美術館 (official site in Chinese) is a strange thing to find amid the rural-industrial sprawl of southern Taichung 台中. Located on the outskirts of historic Wufeng 霧峰, it is part of the much larger Asia University 亞洲大學 campus, itself riddled with European-inspired architectural curiosities like a gymnasium designed to look like the Colosseum of Rome. The art gallery, straying from the kitsch theme of the rest of the university, is an original design by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It took nearly seven years to build and opened in 2013.
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.
I enjoyed a sublime stroll through Bukchon Hanok Village one afternoon while visiting Seoul. Hanok is the word used to describe the traditional style of Korean homes visible in many of the photos below. I have also included some shots from Gyeongbokgung and nearby Unhyeongung, a 19th century royal residence.