Huandao Day 9

From Taichung to Chiayi, buildings old and new…

The front of Minxiong Haunted House, an abandoned three-story brick mansion a Chiayi forest in Taiwan.
Minxiong Haunted House. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 110 km
Ride time (with stops) 6 hours
Number of ghosts 0

I started my day at an opera house, and ended my day at a haunted house. With nice views in between.

The National Taichung Theater building reflected in a shallow pool of water. The building is fundamentally rectangular, but punctuated by multi-level curved windows and concave balcony spaces.
This is the National Taichung Theater, an opera house in Taichung City designed by Toyo Ito.
A security guard at the entrance to National Taichung Theater, reflected in a shallow pool of water.
The theater opened in 2016 (and today at 11:30am).
Closer-up of one of the concave external balcony spaces of the National Taichung Theater. The spaces almost look like caves hollowed from the face of the building.
These concave spaces contain external balconies on the 6th floor.
The triple-height foyer of National Taichung Theater. There is no one inside, but a parent and young child are entering through the glass doors. Through the glass windows and doors, Taichung city looks beautiful on a sunny day.
The interior has 580 curved walls, which—according to an automatic translation of the theater’s Chinese-language Wikipedia page—are “extremely difficult to build”.
A wide curved staircase descending from a cave-like opening of an interior wall.
The public spaces are designed to be a cave for humankind.
A low, rectangular wooden bench seat in the foreground. The vast, cuvaceous foyer of the National Taichung Theater is visible beyond.
The ground floor hosts an indoor design market (on left), and a cafe, where I had brunch. Perhaps for too long, because…
A parking ticket affixed to the rear handles of an SYM MMBCU scooter.
…On returning to my scooter, I discovered my first-ever Taiwan parking ticket. If I’m reading it correctly, it’s for NT$20 (NZ$1). I can pay at any convenience store.
An SYM MMBCU scooter parked on a hill, with a view of Taichung City in the background.
My next stop was Wanggaoliao Night View Park (望高寮夜景公園), above Taichung City.
A wide-angle photo of the Taichung City skyline. It’s a beautiful sunny day. The skyline comprizes dozens (or hundreds) of high-rise buildings.
Obviously it’s called Night View Park for a reason, but the day view’s pretty good too. Taichung recently eclipsed Kaohsiung to become Taiwan’s second-largest city (behind New Taipei). Taichung now has 2.8 million residents, versus Kaohsiung’s 2.7 million.
A distorted selfie taken in a convex roadside mirror. The photographer is sitting on his motorcycle and giving a peace sign with one hand.
Today’s ride took me though a lot of Taiwan countryside. The narrower roads had mirrors at most intersections.
A country intersection with traffic lights. A paddy field is visible on the other side of the road, as well as a palm tree and some houses, with more trees in the distance.
Here’s a typical rural scene. The Taiwan countryside is way, way, way more densely-populated than in New Zealand. And full of traffic lights.
A scooter parked outside what looks like a small community center.
After feeling jaded last night, today I felt great. But it was hot in the sun, so I wanted to stop for a cold drink. I typed ‘park’ into Google Maps, and it brought me here. Google translates the blue sign to ‘Pitou Community’; I’m guessing it’s a rural community center. There was no one else around.
A concrete Chinese lion in the foreground, and a concrete frog in the background. Each is about 1 meter tall.
On the other side of the building, I found a bunch of concrete animals…
A sculpture of a girl hanging on the side of a whale. The sculpture is about 2 meters tall.
…This whale rider…
A sculpture of a girl, wearing an oversized triangular straw hat, leaning across some enormous melons.
…This girl with big melons…
A two-person mosaic chair in the shade between two portable toilets made of concrete.
…And this mosaic seat—the only one in the shade—between two portable toilets. I sat here.
Dashcam screenshot of a scooter fallen on its side in the middle of an intersection. A police car with flashing lights is parked next to it. There is a helmet in the scene but it’s unclear if a person is laying there or not.
Back on the road, I passed this scooter accident, the second of the day. (This is a screenshot from my dashcam.) In Taiwan, it’s common for people to lie in situ after an accident, even if uninjured, so police can assess the scene.
An SYM MMBCU scooter parked at the end of a dirt road, with a forest beyond it.
Nearing Chiayi City, I stopped at the end of this dirt road and wandered past the trash to…
The front of Minxiong Haunted House, an abandoned three-story brick mansion a Chiayi forest in Taiwan. The windows and doors are missing. There are tall trees growing out from the masonry, all across the building.
…Minxiong Haunted House (also called the Old Liu Family Mansion; 劉家古宅民雄鬼屋). It was built in 1929 and damaged by American bombing raids in WWII, when Taiwan was under Japanese control. As the only three-story mansion in the area, it would’ve been an easy target prior to being covered in trees.
A deteriorating stone statue of a woman draped in a long dress, without a head, on the grounds of Minxiong Haunted House. A brick ruin is out of focus in the background.
I saw this headless statue in the yard.
Fallen masonry on dry leaves, in the grounds of Minxiong Haunted House. A 20 liter plastic bucket lies on its side in the background.
I also saw a lot of fallen masonry…
Four empty bottles of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor aligned to face the camera on a low stone wall.
…And some empty liquor bottles. Most were on the ground, but I also I saw this line-up on a low wall. Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor (金門酒廠) is a distillery on Kinmen Island, an island of Taiwan that’s only 10km from mainland China. While I was taking this photo, an elderly couple appeared through the trees. The man exclained to the woman “Wàiguó rén!” (外國人!), which means “Foreigner!”. I said a respectful hello (in Chinese), and he said hello back. Then they left.
Close-up of a third-floor corner of the Minxiong Haunted House, showing large tree growing out from the brick wall. Its roots stretch down the wall and in through the windows. It has created a vibrant leafy canopy over the house.
Some of the trees were spectacular, like this one growing out of the third-floor brick wall.
Close-up of a dense array of tree routes climbing vertically up the side of a derilect brick house.
Around the back of the building, the roots were also spectacular—reaching down three stories to the ground.
The interior of the Minxiong Haunted House. All of the internal floors and walls, and doors and windows, are missing. It is a hollow shell filled with vines and tree roots.
The interior was also pretty rooted.
Close-up of the entranceway of Minxiong Haunted House. The doors and windows are missing. The doorway is filled with rubble.
The front entrance was blocked.
The third-floor balcony of Minxiong Haunted House, with an inscription in the concrete above the balcony. The inscription comprisses four Chinese characters.
The words above the third-floor balcony mean something like ‘brothers be happy together / treat each other well’. We should all be so lucky.

Day 9 soundtrack

  1. James Iha – Look to the Sky (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. Green Day – International Superhits! (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Everything but the Girl – Temperamental (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  4. Accusefive – 帶你飛 (Apple Music) (Spotify)

Dashcam timelapse