Traces of an Army Maintenance Depot

A trace of martial history in Xinyi District

Xinyi District 信義區 is now one of the most expensive and upscale parts of Taiwan but it hasn’t always been that way. Decades ago it was an undesirable area on the edge of the city with a significant military-industrial presence, traces of which still remain if you know where to look. The open expanse of parks and parking lots around the intersection of Xin’an Street 信安街 and Wuxing Street 吳興街 immediately to the west of Taipei Medical University 臺北醫學大學 is one such trace.

Nga Tsin Wai: The Last Walled Village of Kowloon

The entrance to Nga Tsin Wai Village 衙前圍村

Nga Tsin Wai Village 衙前圍村 is widely known as the last walled village of Kowloon 九龍. Located not far from the former location of the infamous Kowloon Walled City 九龍城寨, the village traces its history back to the 1352 founding of its modest Tin Hau Temple 天后宮. It was fortified in 1724 to defend against bandits and pirates but has, in modern times, lost the moat, walls, and watchtowers that once protected residents from harm. As the very last of its kind in the urban heart of Hong Kong 香港 it has become a flashpoint for conflict between the Urban Renewal Authority and the many activist groups and citizens passionate about preserving what remains of Kowloon’s cultural heritage.

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.

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.

Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈

The second Taipei City Council building

One of the more peculiar ruins I’ve seen in Taiwan was a building immediately across from the Control Yuan 監察院, one of the five branches of government, on Zhongxiao West Road 忠孝西路. It was inaugurated as the second home of the Taipei City Council 台北市議會 in 1964 after moving from nearby Zhongshan Hall 中山堂. In 1990 the city council relocated to its present base in Xinyi District 信義區 and the building was converted into a police station before being completely abandoned in 2007. Despite this the building continued to be known as the Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈.

Tongyi Bowling Alley 統一保齡球館

Broken rooftop at the abandoned bowling alley in Keelung

Keelung 基隆, like many cities in Taiwan, is a dark wonderland for urban exploration. You can hardly turn around without sighting yet another hulking ruin calling out to be entered. Most of these buildings are so decrepit that little remains to indicate what its purpose once was—a direct consequence of Keelung’s incessant rain and gloom. The process of decay works at a feverish pace in this grim port city, rapidly eroding evidence of human occupation in any abandonment exposed to the elements.