Keelung Road Guest House 基隆路招待所

Beautiful light coming through the windows

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 基隆路. 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 Forty-Four West Village 四四西村, a military dependents’ settlement.

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.

A Green Car in the Mountains of Nangang

An abandoned car on the way to Nangang

An abandoned car on the way to Nangang.

I went out cycling in the mountains behind my place today, a small reward for waking up early. Little did I know it would turn out to be the hottest day of the year thus far—so here I am, weak with heatstroke, head pounding as I strike every keystroke. Midnight passes and I realize it’s Earth Day, a fine occasion to share this broken-down, abandoned automobile I found on the mountainous backroads of Nangang District 南港區 earlier today. I’m calling it an environmentally-friendly car, huanbaoche 環保車 in Chinese, but of course it is nothing of the kind. Nature is working her magic on this discarded relic of human civilization but it’ll be quite some time before she’s through with it.…

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村

Rows of homes inside Jiangling New Village

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村 was one of more than 800 military dependents’ village in Taiwan before its ultimate destruction in mid-2015. It was formerly located not far from the confluence of Jingmei River 景美溪 and Xindian River 新店溪 just outside Taipei 台北 city limits in the northern part of Xindian 新店. Immediately to the south is an active military base of some kind—and the historic Jingmei Prison can be found on the opposite side of the nearest major intersection.

Jingtong Erkeng Old House 菁桐二坑老屋

A crack between nothing

Several years ago I went hiking in the mountains north of Jingtong 菁桐, an old coal mining town in Pingxi 平溪, and found this abandoned home on the way back down. Technically it is located in Erkeng 二坑, literally Second Pit, the tiny village that sprawls upslope from the railway station. At that time I was quite new to exploring abandoned places in Taiwan and had no idea what to make of it. Under what circumstances did the former resident depart? Why did they leave almost everything behind? These are questions without any answer.

Ruchuan Village 入船里

Rewilding at the back of Ruchuan Village 入船里

Ruchuan Village 入船里 is a small community in Keelung 基隆, a historic port town of approximately 373,000 scattered among the rugged hills of northeastern Taiwan. Keelung’s growth over the last century has been constrained by a lack of flat land on which to build—with much of that concentrated at the foot of the harbour that now constitutes the downtown core. With few other options for expansion the city has sprawled upward along the hillsides and deep into the many valleys leading up from the port.

Khoo Tsu-song Old House 許梓桑古厝

A closer look at the empty nameplate at Qingyu Hall

Khoo Tsu-song Old House 許梓桑古厝 is a scenic historic site atop a modest hill near Miaokou Night Market 廟口夜市 in Keelung 基隆. Built in 1931 while Taiwan was under Japanese rule, it is structured somewhat like a traditional Taiwanese three-sided courtyard home with some Western influences and building materials. Formally named Qingyu Hall 慶餘堂, it was the residence of Khoo Tsu-song (1874–1945), an important figure in local politics and civic affairs during the Japanese colonial era. His name is rendered here in romanized Taiwanese Hokkien, in keeping with the conventions adopted by the Keelung cultural bureau.

Peiyuan Industrial Aquaculture Factory 培源殖產工廠

Abandoned chemistry

Bicycle touring is one means by which I discover many abandoned places in Taiwan. Ride in just about any direction long enough, keep your eyes peeled, and you’re bound to encounter the telltale signs of decay and neglect sooner or later. Such was the case one fine morning in June 2015 when I set out to have breakfast in Fangliao 枋寮, a small town along the coast of central Pingtung 屏東, while en route to Hengchun 恆春, at the southern tip of the island. I had barely been awake for half an hour when I noticed this partially overgrown ruin along the roadside.

Yutian Automotive Factory 羽田汽車工廠

On the factory floor at the old automotive plant

The massive ruins of the Yutian Automotive Factory 羽田汽車工廠 are located on the Dayeh University campus in Dacun 大村, Changhua 彰化. There are four main buildings, each approximately 360 meters in length and 90 meters across for an estimated total of 32,500 square meters apiece. Outside of the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park 彰化濱海工業區 in Lukang 鹿港 (which opened in 1995) these buildings are probably the largest in the county—and the entire complex is readily visible from space.

Xindian Old House 新店老屋

On the wrong side of the river

Not long after moving to Wenshan District 文山區 in Taipei 台北 I went out riding to explore the neighbourhood. At some point I found myself on the opposite side of Jingmei River from where I was living at the time. Nestled into a bend in the river, this small nub of land was home to several factories, office buildings, and hotels that looked like they probably charged by the hour. There were almost no homes whatsoever—which seemed rather strange for that part of the city—but as I cycled along a Baoqiao Road 寶橋路 laneway I noticed a traditional home hidden in the foliage to one side and stopped to investigate.