Huandao Day 6

An alien village, a queen, and a lighthouse, between Keelung and Taipei…

Photo of a TV in a hotel room, above a desk.
President-elect Lai Ching-Te. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 90 km
Ride time (with stops) 5 hours
Number of UFO villages 1

It was another good-weather day, as I rode into Taipei—the seat of Taiwanese democracy—on election day.

I didn’t notice any polling stations during my ride (although given I can’t read Chinese, maybe that was never likely). But I did notice election advertising’s still out in force. In New Zealand, it has to be removed the night before.

The first spot I visited today, however, wasn’t somewhere any of the parties campaigned:

An abandoned five- or six-story hotel near Wanli UFO village in Taiwan.
Riding into Wanli UFO Village (萬里飛碟屋), I passed this abandoned hotel.
A abandoned pill-shaped Venturo house, overgrown with vegetation.
Just around the corner, I saw the first of many abandoned mid-century ‘UFO’ homes.
Looking down on an abandoned Venturo house. The glass wall along the left side is half-missing.
This model, the ‘Venturo’, was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1971.
A derilect Venturo house in a jungle.
There was path leading to this one…
A thoroughly-trashed interior of a building.
…Which looked like this on the inside.
A flying saucer-style house, the Futuro. It appears to be covered in mold.
Suuronen also designed the ‘Futuro’. I saw five or six of them, but there are apparently 13 here in total.
A Futuro house at Wanli UFO Village in Taiwan, elevated on concrete stilts.
I climbed the steps for a look inside this one…
Close-up of a Futura door half-open, at Wanli UFO Village in Taiwan.
The entrance reminded me of an aircraft cabin door.
A thoroughly-trashed interior.
The interior was a bit rough.
A partially-dismantled and broken kitchen, with plates, a coffee cup, and a coffee plunger on the counter.
I was intrigued by the coffee plunger in the kitchen…
Rotting inbuilt furniture above a hole in the floor. Soft coverings are missing.
…And the Futuro’s famous built-in furniture, rotting, against the wall.
A curved deck around a deteriorating Futuro home, with a view of the East China Sea in the distance.
This one had a great view of the East China Sea—but when I looked inside, it was eerily clean, and had a made-up bed against the far wall. I concluded someone may actually live here (despite the busted windows and lack of plumbing), so I very quickly left.
The Queen’s Head Rock in New Taipei, Taiwan. It is a pourous rock that has been eroded by the wind to look like the side profile of Queen Elizabeth II. A dozen people are looking at it from the other side.
My next stop was another deteriorating landmark: the famous Queen’s Head Rock (女王頭)—so named because of its resemblace to Queen Elizabeth II.
A black-and-white photo of Queen Elizabeth II superimposed over the Queen’s Head Rock. A thought bubble is coming up from the Queen’s head. It reads ‘WTF’.
Seems legit.
A wide-angle shot of dozens of people around Queen’s Head Rock in New Taipei, Taiwan.
The queen’s neck is continuously eroding; it’s expected to break within the next few years. There was a painted red line on the seaward side of the rock. A security guard blew a whistle whenever people got too close.
A queue of hundreds of people walking on a pathway next to the shore.
The 350-meter walk from the visitor center was crowded the whole way. Most of the visitors were speaking Korean.
An octagonal lighthouse in the distance, above the East China Sea. It is painted in black and white horizontal bands.
My last stop was more remote: Fuguijiao Lighthouse (老梅里), at Taiwan’s northern-most point. It has a more utilitarian design than the lighthouses I saw at Taiwan’s eastern- and southern-most points.
A concete bunker-style underground pillbox, at the top of the cliffs.
This pillbox was immediately next to the lighthouse.
Wide-angle view of the inside of a concrete bunker-like pillbox.
This shot is deceptive: the ceiling’s only about 1.2m above the floor.
In the foreground, some white buildings and a Taiwan flag. Across vegetation in the distance is a radar dome and other military buildings.
The walk from the carpark was a kilometer-long arc around a military facility, a reminder that Taiwan’s many pillboxes could (probably not, but potentially) be used again.
Photo of a TV in a hotel room, above a desk. The TV is displaying TaiwanPlus coverage of the 2024 Taiwan presidential election. President-elect Lai Ching-Te is speaking. To the right of the screen, the results show he has 40% of the vote, with his opponents having 33% and 26%.
The election outcome was clear by mid-evening. As I write this in my Taipei hotel room, president-elect Lai Ching-Te (who is the current vice-president), is addressing the media. He mentioned China in his opening remarks, saying today Taiwan has choosen democracy over authoritarianism. China previously said that if he was elected today, we’d be taking one step closer to war.

Day 6 soundtrack

  1. Foo Fighters – But Here We Are (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. Bike – Circus Kids (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Goldfrapp – Supernature (Apple Music) (Spotify)

Dashcam timelapse