My fifth day of riding around southern Taiwan in June 2015 delivered me to the most remote parts of the island’s 1,139 kilometer-long coastline. On the previous day I rode from Fangliao, on the southwestern coast, around Hengchun and into the foothills of the Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 to reach Manzhou, one of the last places to find lodging before forging on to Taitung. I had already taken this route while riding all around Taiwan in 2013 so I was familiar with the territory, but that first tour was so rushed that I hadn’t been able to enjoy the scenery. (Actually, I had been outrunning a typhoon the last time I was here—but that’s a story not yet told on this blog.) This time around my intent was to take it slow and explore more of this obscure part of coastal Taiwan.
My last big day of riding around southern Taiwan in June 2015 began in Dawu, Taitung, with only about 55 kilometers to go before arriving in Taitung City. I had been out in the sun far too much the previous day and was feeling rather sluggish and a bit sick so I didn’t end up taking any side trips into the mountains as I made my way north. Even so, the scenery was fantastic, and while I won’t have as much to write about this particular day of my trip, I have plenty of beautiful photographs to share.
I stumbled upon the remains of Dawu Theater 大武戲院 while on a bicycle tour of southern Taiwan in 2015. Located in the small town of Dawu, it was one of approximately 36 theaters operating in Taitung in the cinematic heyday of the 1960s and 70s, all of which are now abandoned or destroyed. This particular theater was in business from 1968 to 1983 and allegedly accommodated as many as 1,200 patrons, earning it the title of nanbatian 南霸天, or “southern tyrant”, for how it dominated the industry in the southernmost part of the county. Hardly anything remains after three decades of exposure that would identify Dawu Theater apart from a small sign in the antechamber.
Taitung City, the administrative capital of Taitung, was my final destination on a multi-day bicycle tour around southern Taiwan in the summer of 2015. Previously I shared words and photos from every day on the road so this post will act as something of an epilogue. Start at the beginning or read the last chapter to get up to speed—or treat this as a singular post about some of what I saw in an extra day of exploration around the most remote major city on the Taiwanese mainland.
It never ceases to amaze me what can be learned from keenly observing the streets of Taiwan and following up with a little research online. I only spent one full day in Taitung City at the tail end of a bicycle trip down south this June but managed to chance across a number of interesting sights in that time, this historic building among them.
Located at 143 Zhongzheng Road 中正路, this is the Taitung Branch 台東分社 of the Chinese Association 中華會館, originally built in 1927 while Taiwan was under Japanese rule. A plaque out front features historic information in English (shocking in this part of the country) as well as a direct translation of the name, “Taitung Chunghua Hostel”, but it was more of a clubhouse or assembly hall, not a place to secure lodging for the night. Interestingly, the proper Chinese name is the same one used by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of America. Have a look…
In June 2015 I undertook a bicycle trip from Tainan to Taitung City, where I spent an extra day wandering around to get more of a feel for Taiwan’s remote southeastern capital. Mere minutes after leaving my hotel, immediately after chancing upon the historic Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館, I noticed the stark outline of an abandoned building at the end of a short laneway leading off of Zhongzheng Road 中正路. After taking a closer look I realized it was yet another abandoned movie theater, of which there are many scattered all around Taiwan.
At the end of a bicycle trip to Taitung City 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.