Nantou Road Trip 2015: Sun Moon Lake to Taichung

Xinyi Township Mountain Vista

This post is the final entry in a series documenting several days of riding around Nantou 南投 in October 2015. On the last morning of this trip I woke in Puli 埔里, close to the geographic center of Taiwan. I only had to return the scooter to the rental shop in Taichung 台中 sometime after nightfall so I decided to take a more circuitous route and check out many sights along the way. After a quick breakfast I headed south, briefly stopping by the shores of the majestic Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 (covered in the previous entry in this series), and ascended a winding mountain access road leading into Xinyi, one of several majority Taiwanese indigenous districts in this landlocked county.

Jiji Wuchang Temple 集集武昌宫

Left Side of Wuchang Temple

Wuchang Temple 武昌宮 is one of many remnants of the devastating 921 Earthquake, which ripped through central Taiwan on September 21st, 1999, toppling tens of thousands of buildings and claiming nearly 2,500 lives. Located in the rural township of Jiji 集集 in Nantou 南投, less than five kilometers from the epicenter of the magnitude 7 quake, this temple was destroyed mere months after it was completed. Rather than clear the debris, the damaged structure was left more or less as it was the morning after it collapsed, and a new temple with the same name was built in front. Nowadays this ruined temple is a popular roadside attraction and a prime example of disaster tourism in Taiwan.

921 Earthquake Museum 九二一地震教育園區

921 Earthquake damage in Wufeng

Deep in the night on September 21st, 1999, the devastating 921 Earthquake ripped through central Taiwan. Thousands were killed, hundreds of buildings collapsed, and entire towns were leveled to the ground, particularly in Nantou 南投 and Taichung 台中. Nowadays there are many reminders and memorials to the disaster scattered across the region, among them the 921 Earthquake Museum 九二一地震教育園區 (Chinese version; official site) in Wufeng 霧峰, which I visited in June 2014.

The Leaning Tower of Su’ao 蘇澳斜塔

Water pooling against a wall in the leaning tower

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.