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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.