City of Illusions

Sanchong skyline obscured by the arc of a bridge

An inadvertent illusion along the banks of the Tamsui River.

Last January I shot this uncertain scene of a man looking over his shoulder as he crosses a curved bridge perfectly dividing the Sanchong 三重 skyline from the tranquil Tamsui River 淡水河. This is one of many images I have captured along the riverside bikeway on the western edge of Taipei 台北. Actually, this picture was taken not far from where I shot this more minimal skyline that same day, and it’s only a little north of the scenic stretch of river depicted here and here. There is something enticing about the unseen shoreline on the opposite side of the river……

Dusky Skies Over Taipei

On the other side of the wall

Riding along the riverside bikeway in Taipei one dusky evening in July.

This is an old picture from 2013 that I never got around to posting for one reason or another. I captured this dusky scene while taking a spin up to Shezidao 社子島 on what was—at that time—my new bike. I am not entirely sure where this was shot but it’s probably somewhere along Yanping Riverside Park 延平河濱公園 in Datong District 大同區, pretty much the same place I captured this photograph on my first visit to Taipei 台北. The distinctive bridge on the horizon is the New Taipei Bridge 新北大橋, built in 2010, and that would be Sanchong 三重 off to the right.…

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.

Zhongli Caishen Building 中壢財神大樓

Zhongli Station at night

In my first dispatch from Zhongli 中壢 I shared a photograph of the Caishen Building 財神大樓, a rundown entertainment complex next to the train station that I meant to explore at some point. Not long after posting that I got around to checking it out—and much to my surprise, despite the incredibly rundown exterior most of the building is still occupied by hotels, daytime dance clubs, mobile phone booths, and other businesses serving the many Southeast Asian migrant workers of Taoyuan 桃園. There is, however, one part of the building that seemed obviously abandoned from street level; the skeletal outline of some kind of UFO-like structure on the rooftop demanded further investigation.

The Geographic Center of Taiwan 台灣地理中心

Centrality

The Geographic Center of Taiwan 台灣地理中心 is a modest roadside attraction at Hutoushan 虎頭山 (literally “Tiger Head Mountain”) in Puli 埔里, Nantou 南投, on the way to bigger attractions like Qingjing Farm 清境農場. As the name implies, it marks the geographic center of the island of Taiwan, albeit with a bit of a twist: there are actually two monuments here, one at the base of the mountain and another near the peak at 555 meters above sea level. It’s about a ten minute hike to get to the real center of Taiwan!

Guanmiao Shanxi Temple 關廟山西宮

Exploring the upper levels of Shanxi temple in Guanmiao

Shanxi Temple 山西宮 (often romanized as “Shansi Temple”) is a large historic temple in Guanmiao 關廟, a small town in southeastern Tainan 台南, dating back to the early 18th century, back when Taiwan was under Qing Dynasty rule. It has been expanded and renovated many times over the years, most recently in the 1970s, to the point where I noticed few traces of antiquity on two trips to the temple over the last couple of years.

Fuyou Building 富有大樓

An abandoned department store in the golden light

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.

Postcards From Kowloon 九龍明信片

A moody view of the endless city

Kowloon 九龍 was my first experience of Asia back in 2012. Anytime I return to Hong Kong 香港 I stay there for at least a couple of nights. It helps that many of the most affordable hotels are located in Kowloon—but I also like how gritty, rundown, and real it is, particularly when compared to the naked display of wealth and privilege seen on the other side of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island 香港島 itself.

Last weekend I crossed the strait for a brief visa run and, after finding an excellent deal on a hotel on Agoda, once again found myself lost in the immensity of Kowloon. Naturally I spent a good part of my trip wandering around the city documenting my impressions. Collected here are several of my photos from this trip…

Postcards From Wenshan District 文山區明信片

Taipei from Xianyan temple in Wenshan district

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.

Riding the Seawall in November

Riding the seawall at sunset

I recently moved to the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver. Not long after I began taking advantage of the proximity to Stanley Park to engage in a long-standing Vancouver tradition: riding the seawall. Here are a few photos from my first trip around the park.