A Foggy Hike in Yangmingshan 陽明山

Coming down near Xiaoyoukeng

These photographs were taken in early October 2013 while hiking around Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山國家公園. After meeting up with a friend we took a bus from Jiantan Station 劍潭站 in Shilin District 士林區 to Lengshuikeng with the intention of checking out Milk Lake 牛奶湖 (pinyin: Niunaichi). Racing up the meandering mountainside roads we soon found ourselves immersed in an interminable fog. Debarking at the bus stop, with hardly another soul around, we decided to wander around and see what we could make of our time in Yangmingshan.

Huaguo Theater 華國戲院

Exterior View of Huaguo Theater in 2017

Huaguo Theater 華國戲院 is one of hundreds of abandoned theaters scattered around Taiwan. Located in Puli 埔里, a town of approximately 80,000 in the heart of Nantou 南投, this particular theater was likely built in the late 1950s. From what I’ve read in this post by Wang Henglu 王亨祿, this theater was operated by a couple with the family name Zhou 周 and specialized in showing Western films on a single screen before its inevitable demise.

Shuri Castle 首里城

A closer look at the Seiden at Shurijo

I visited Okinawa 沖縄 in November 2013 on one of my first side trips from Taiwan. Gathered here are some of my photographs from a brief tour of Shuri Castle 首里城, also known as Shuri-jo, a historic Ryukyuan gusuku built on a hilltop in Naha around 650 years ago. Almost nothing seen here is original—the castle and almost everything around it was destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa and reconstructed from historic records between 1952–1992.

Shuinan Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓

Outside the Shuinan Tobacco Barn

Shuinan Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓 is a historic Japanese colonial era building located in Beitun 北屯, Taichung 台中. It is an “Osaka-style” tobacco barn (named after Osaka Castle) much like these more famous examples from Meinong 美濃. Nobody seems to know for sure when it was built, though this article claims it is a century old. Without better information I would say the 1930s are a safe bet—that’s when industrial-scale tobacco cultivation was spreading all over central and south Taiwan—but it might be older than that.

Our Lady Queen of China Cathedral 中華聖母主教座堂

The interior of Our Lady of China Catholic church

Back when I was living in Tainan 台南 I made an effort to check out many of the temples I encounter in my daily travels around town. One day after breakfast, while riding along Kaishan Road 開山路, I stopped to check out what looked to be yet another temple across the street from the Koxinga Shrine 延平郡王祠. I was surprised to learn that despite the palatial Chinese architecture and seemingly traditional style of design this is a Catholic church, officially Our Lady Queen of China Cathedral 中華聖母主教座堂. Built in 1963, it is the top-ranking church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tainan 天主教台南教區. The name is derived from Our Lady of China 中華聖母, an apparition of Mary that took place during the Boxer Rebellion 義和團運動 in China in 1900.

The Remains of Taipei Prison 臺北監獄圍牆遺蹟

A remnant of Taipei Prison

Not much remains of the old Taipei Prison 台北刑務所 except the walls along the north and south sides of the prison grounds. Originally known as Taihoku Prison (after the Japanese name for Taipei), it was built in 1904 to incarcerate a burgeoning population of political dissidents, revolutionaries, and activists resisting Japanese colonial rule, though the authorities also imprisoned common criminals here as well. It was also the scene of the needless execution of 14 American soldiers a mere 58 days before the end of World War II. The KMT continued to operate the prison into the bleak years of the White Terror 白色恐怖 before razing it to the ground in 1963.

White Lion House, Chiang Mai

Outside the White Lion House of Chiang Mai

Last year I shared my exploration of the House of Success, an extravagant palatial ruin in the northwest corner of Chiang Mai immediately inside the old city walls. In that post I noted that there were two additional buildings of a similar style at the same site, one an active business and the other occupied by squatters. Returning this year for a second visit I was surprised to see that the squatters had left. Wasting no time, I strode into the Jangmuarinnakorn House, more generally known as the White Lion House, to document a previously missing piece of the puzzle.

Explorations of the Pacific Edge 1

The easternmost tip of Taiwan

These photos were taken two years ago after cycling through the Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 into Toucheng 頭城, Yilan 宜蘭. The first set of six photos were all shot along the rugged shoreline of the Lailai Geological Area 萊萊地質區 while the last four were captured at Magang 馬崗, a half-abandoned fishing village on Cape San Diego 三貂角 (pinyin: Sandiaojiao), the easternmost tip of Taiwan. All were captured in Gongliao 貢寮. From here the vast Pacific Ocean stretches all the way to Baja California in Mexico.

Taipei Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店

Reflections of the Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店

Yesterday’s impromptu ride around the riverside bikeway network delivered me to the palatial Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店 (pinyin: Yuanshan Dafandian), a famous landmark in Zhongshan District 中山區, Taipei 台北. Located on a hilltop overlooking a bend of the Keelung River 基隆河, it was established in 1952 at the behest of generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正 to provide the ruling elite with a luxurious place to host and entertain foreign dignitaries. The distinctive building seen in these photos was completed in 1973 and was the tallest building in the Free Area of the Republic of China until 1981.

Zhongyuan Theater 中源大戲院

Hand-painted movie posters in Zhongli

Zhongyuan Theater 中源大戲院 is a second-run theater located in the heart of Zhongyuan Night Market 中原夜市 in Zhongli 中壢, Taiwan. Zhongyuan Theater is ideally located next to the university of the same name amidst a huge population of budget-conscious students—which may explain why it remains in business unlike hundreds of other old theaters that have fallen into ruin in recent years, victims of changing consumer habits and strong competition from more modern multiplexes. Zhongyuan is also one of the very last theaters in the nation where you will find hand-painted movie posters hanging outside, a nostalgic practice more widely associated with Chin Men Theater 全美戲院 down in Tainan 台南.