Yongye Road Hotel 永業路旅館

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

I was out cycling through Bitan in Xīndiàn 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.

A day after coming back to Taiwan from my adventures in Okinawa 沖縄 I went to investigate. Initially it wasn’t clear what the building had been used for—most of the rooms had been cleaned out—but the surprising scene I discovered on the rooftop made everything crystal clear.

On the first floor at the hotel on Yongye Road (永業路)
The first floor is not entirely abandoned; it is used as storage for the metal-working shop out front.
The stairwell at the front of the abandoned hotel
The stairwell at the front of the abandoned hotel.
Heading up the stairway at the back of the hotel on Yongye Road
Heading up the stairway at the back of the hotel.

I headed straight for the rooftop after gaining access to the first floor. I often do this when exploring buildings where I am uncertain whether there are people milling around at ground level. Gaining elevation puts some distance between me and the risk of being discovered. Not that this is really much of a concern in Taiwan—abandoned buildings are seldom guarded except by ghosts. And I don’t believe in ghosts.

A dark blue carpet colonized at the hotel on Yongye Road
Deep blue carpets act as a substrate for plant life.
Peering down the elevator shaft of the Yongye road (永業路) hotel
Peering down an open elevator shaft at the front of the building.
The state of the roofing in one of the suites in the hotel on Yongye Road (永業路)
The false ceilings in most rooms have fallen apart.

When I reached the top of the stairwell at the back of the building I was confronted by a wall of dense foliage blocking the doorway. In times like this I feel as if I should add a machete to my urban exploration kit. I pushed through and was surprised to find the remains of a beautiful rooftop patio overgrown with plant life.

The ornate stairway on top of the Yongye road (永業路) hotel
Descending into the fern forest on top of the old hotel on Yongye Road.
A closer look at the remains of a bar at the top of the Yongye Road (永業路) hotel
A closer look at the remains of the bar on top of the hotel.
This might have been a beautiful place once upon a time
This might have been a beautiful place once upon a time.
Looking out on the patio from the bar area on top of the Yongye road hotel
“What’ll it be, sir?” “Hair of the dog that bit me.”
A closer look at the gorgeous old stairway at the top of the Yongye road hotel
A closer look at the gorgeous old stairway.
Dense foliage barring the way to the top floor of the hotel on Yongye road
Dense foliage barring the way to the top floor.

There was nothing to see at the top of the ornate stairway leading up from the bar area. The entire area was so choked with weeds that I couldn’t even get a decent picture or even move around. Nature has been very busy here.

Looking down the ornate stairway on top of the Yongye road (永
Looking down the ornate stairway on top of the hotel. It’s a real fern forest down there.

As I worked my way down from the rooftop patio I discovered something amazing that I have never seen in an abandoned building before: stalagmites growing on rotting carpet! I was completely perplexed when I first noticed them at my feet. What were these mushy piles of goo? But when I found they were hard to touch I looked up and realized what they were. Water was dripping from cracks in the ceiling overhead.

Stalagmites in an abandoned hotel in Bitan
A most surprising discovery: actual stalagmites precipitating out of limestone-laden rainwater!
More stalagmites in an abandoned hotel in Bitan
More stalagmites in amidst the fern forest carpet of a room on the fourth floor.

These stalagmites form from the same natural processes at work in caves worldwide: rainwater flows through cracks in the rock (or concrete in this case), drips onto a surface, and leaves a mineral residue after evaporation. It is amazing to see this process taking place inside this old hotel.

Trash littering the floor of the old hotel on Yongye road
Trash littering the floor of the old hotel. That looks like a sake bottle.
Emergency light in the abandoned hotel on Yongye road (永業路)
Emergency light spackled with dirt.

I haven’t been able to find much information about this building online. This discussion in Chinese suggests it was once an electronics factory. I saw nothing that would support this hypothesis. Do factories in Taiwan usually come with decadent rooftop patios? Either that link is wrong or the building was later sold and repurposed.

Near the front of the old hotel on Yongye road (永業路)
A room near the front of the old hotel. Everything here is open to the elements.
Some attempt has been made to keep people from entering the old hotel
Some feeble attempt has been made to keep people from entering the old hotel.
A closer look at the gorgeous old stairway at the top of the Yongye road hotel
A closer look at the gorgeous old stairway at the top of the Yongye road hotel.
Musty old carpets in the abandoned hotel on Yongye road
Musty old carpets in the abandoned hotel on Yongye Road.
Decoration on top of the abandoned hotel on Yongye road
European style decorations overlooking the rooftop patio.
Exterior shot of the abandoned hotel on Yongye road (永業路),
An exterior shot of the abandoned hotel on Yongye Road, Bitan.

When I go exploring ruins like this I never know whether I will be surprised or let down. Many ruins aren’t much to look at, just empty rooms filled with trash and debris. This is part of the fun of urban exploration, however. When you strike gold you really appreciate it. This time around I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.