Having just shared a photo from an abandoned Sogo department store in Zhongli 中壢 I can’t resist also posting about the Gogo Mall building I found in Yonghe 永和 about a month ago. I was there in search of an entrance to the abandoned Miramar Theater 美麗華戲院, one of many abandoned theaters in Yonghe, but all entrances were sealed. Initially I visited at night and assumed it was a derelict building but on my second visit I saw signs of renovation through an open window. Perhaps some effort is being undertaken to redevelop the place.
At the end of a bicycle trip to Taitung City 台東市 in the spring of 2015 I went wandering near the old train station, which had been transformed into the Taitung Railway Art Village 台東鐵道藝術村 in 2004. I had a hunch I might find some hulking derelict near former station front, perhaps an entertainment complex or shopping center in terminal decline, for the new Taitung Station is located far outside the downtown core. Sure enough, within minutes I noticed the telltale signs of decay on a large commercial building several streets over from the art village. This turned out to be the Fuyou Building 富有大樓, a genuine mosquito museum 蚊子館 built in the early 1990s under shady circumstances. It was later abandoned and has since become an eyesore and public health menace as well as a political hot potato for local officials.
West Market 西市場 is a historical site in downtown Tainan 台南 dating back to the earliest years of the Japanese colonial era. The first market building at this location was constructed in 1905, back when it fronted onto the milkfish farms of the Taijiang Lagoon 台江內海. It suffered extensive damage when a catastrophic typhoon struck Tainan in August 1911. An expanded L-shaped structure was built in 1912, making it the largest market in southern Taiwan, but this was damaged by another typhoon in 1920, leading to another round of reconstruction, the results of which are still standing today. The old marketplace remains a hub of commercial activity in this part of the city—but many of its stalls were neglected or abandoned by the mid-2010s, when many of the photos in this article were captured. Presently the old market enjoys heritage status—and an extensive restoration effort was completed in 2020, transforming it into a bright and airy space.
Nishinari is widely reputed to be the most run-down, crime-ridden, and dangerous part of Osaka 大阪—and about as close to a slum as you are likely to find anywhere in Japan 日本. This may explain the preponderance of cheap backpacker accommodation in Shinimamiya, the area just south of Shinsekai 新世界 (literally “New World”), where I stayed for a single night last May before returning to Taiwan. Although I only had a few hours to work with I couldn’t resist wandering around Nishinari to see just how bad it was. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than the Downtown Eastside, the festering carbuncle of Vancouver, which I had wandered through on many occasions.
I moved to Changhua City 彰化市 in November 2014 to see what’s it like living in another traditional town in middle Taiwan. I had an interesting time staying in Tainan 台南 for three months so I figured why not give Changhua 彰化 a shot for the wintertime? While Changhua is nowhere near as lively and interesting as Taiwan’s old southern capital it is not without charm. Here I have gathered up some of the more representative images I have captured in 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.
These images were captured in the Jongno-gu of Seoul, mainly in Insadong, an upscale, artsy neighbourhood, and along Cheonggyecheon Stream.
My time in Seoul has been far more hospitable thanks to the assistance of a family friend, Ellen, who teaches English here. I am extremely grateful that we met in this distant land. It is one thing to have a local guide to show you around and another thing entirely to have someone from your own culture who really understands your motivations for travel. It isn’t simply that we communicate well, though we do—she also gets my travelling style in a way that most people wouldn’t, not without a great deal of explanation.