A Traditional Home in Dacun 大村三合院

An abandoned courtyard home in Dacun township

Today I would like to take you inside an abandoned sanheyuan 三合院, a traditional Taiwanese courtyard home. This particular home is in Dacun 大村, a rural township in Changhua 彰化, but it is not unique. The Taiwanese countryside is littered with thousands of these old homes, many of which have fallen into disrepair and abandonment over the years. I have given this place a name but it is merely a description of convenience. Chances are it has no formal name.

Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部

The other side of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部

Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部 is a surprising find in Guanziling 關子嶺, the most famous and well-developed hot springs town in Baihe 白河, Tainan 台南. I went to stay there one night in the spring of 2014 to have a look—but I didn’t expect to find an abandoned club next door to where I was staying. I should have known—this is Taiwan, an urban exploration utopia. There are abandoned buildings absolutely everywhere. Sometimes you will get lucky and discover someplace cool without even trying.

Yinhedong 銀河洞

The waterfall from the temple at Yinhe Cave

Yinhedong 銀河洞 (literally “Milky Way Cave”) is an extraordinary cliffside temple next to a gorgeous waterfall in the mountains just outside of Taipei 台北. Originally founded in 1914 and extensively renovated in 1958, the temple recently celebrated its centennial, as proclaimed by the red banner draped out front during my first visit in February 2014. In a story that sounds entirely apocryphal, the cave was reputedly a hideout for Chen Qiuju 陳秋菊, a Shenkeng 深坑 resident who famously led a rebellion in the earliest years of the Japanese colonial era.

An Abandoned Home on Yinhe Road 銀河路老屋

The abandoned homestead from the roadside

One fine morning in February 2014 I decided to go out riding. I had seen photos of a beautiful cliffside temple next to a waterfall in Xindian 新店 and it looked to be within easy reach of my place in Jingmei. I set out for the highway leading to Pinglin, passing through the sprawl of southern Taipei 台北 under the warm winter sun. The roadway began to steepen as I reached the outskirts of the city. Struggling against gravity—but enjoying every minute of it—I ascended into the hills before taking a turn onto Yinhe Road 銀河路 (the literal translation of which is “silver river”, better known to us as the Milky Way).

Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道

Old Caoling Tunnel (舊草嶺隧道), north entrance

Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway. The main point of entry is Fulong 福隆, a beach town in New Taipei City about an hour outside of Taipei 台北 by train. Riding through the old tunnel makes for a great day trip from Taipei 台北—as long as you don’t go on a weekend.

Yongye Road Hotel 永業路旅館

The remains of a bar at the top of the Yongye road (永業路) hotel

I was out cycling through Bitan in Xindian 新店 one night when I noticed a big building with blown-out windows looming over Yongye Road 永業路. The skeletal outline of a collapsed rooftop against the umbral sky confirmed my suspicions: this building was abandoned. It was too dark to take a closer look that particular night but I vowed to return.

Encore Garden 亞哥花園

Apparitions in the overgrowth

Encore Garden 亞哥花園 is an abandoned theme park in the hills above Taichung 台中 in Taiwan. I learned about this urban explorer’s dream after reading up on Katolis World 卡多里樂園, another abandoned amusement park in Beitun 北屯. I was dismayed to find out that Katolis World was demolished years ago but then I found this post confirming the existence of another abandonment nearby. With the clues provided—and some Google Maps sleuthing; those Street View cameras really get around these days—I was able to identify a likely target in the hills above the main highway. Apart from that I knew very little about what I was getting myself into at Encore Garden—there is almost no other information available on the English language web.

Tuaran Chinese Cemetery

Last remnants of daylight

These photos were shot while touring an old Chinese cemetery in Kampung Bakut, a village just outside of Tuaran in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Many Hakka Chinese migrated to this area in the late 19th century, hence the need for a place formally known in Malay as Tanah Perkuburan Orang Cina Tuaran (Chinese: 斗亞蘭華人福壽山). It is a forlorn, neglected place: a hilltop encrusted with elaborate tombs in an elegant state of disrepair. Cemeteries are typically avoided by the local people, a consequence of the widely-held belief that anything to do with death will bring bad luck. Even so, these burial grounds are littered with rubbish and empty glue canisters—an indication that the cemetery entertains at least a few visitors now and then.

Bongeunsa Temple

Bongeunsa Temple

Bongeunsa 봉은사 (Hangul: 봉은사; Hanja: 奉恩寺) is a Buddhist temple in the Gangnam (yes, that Gangnam) of Seoul immediately across from COEX Mall, supposedly one of the largest in Asia. Towering skyscrapers on the horizon are a stark reminder of the modernity outside the temple grounds. Inside, many of the structures show their age, particularly the antique bell house (depicted in the last photo below). Still, little remains of the original Bongeunsa. As with other historic sites in Seoul it has undergone many renovations and improvements over the years. The results are pleasant enough to walk around but one does not feel the weight of history in this place.