This place was actually a serendipitous discovery, brought about by missing my stop on one of the bus routes that threads through Yangmingshan National Park, to one of the many hiking trails on which I discovered this sprawling industrial ruin. After making a mental note and subsequently returning to complete the hike, I decided to scout out the area from above on Google Maps back at my hostel to see if there was anything else to be found, before coming back a week later to explore on a particularly dreary day in early September, just 2 days before the start of Ghost Month. I didn’t take any of the photos in Black and White, but I may as well have, as the thick Gray clouds hanging above sucked up any colour that was to be found. It certainly made things atmospheric though.
Walking along the road towards this place, it remains hidden in a cluster of trees until you’re pretty much parallel to the entrance, and from there you can get a sense of what I’d call the ‘manufactured grandeur’ of the building – 3 storeys of rotting Sino-European influenced architecture, amidst a garden that’s now an overgrown jungle – it’s actually a nice break from the bland, boxy apartments and hotels in the near vicinity.
Going through the half-moon entrance gate (you’ll see that this design feature becomes a recurring theme throughout the property), you notice a sorry looking swimming pool, and the full extent of the deterioration on the house itself – the exterior paint flaking away in narrow strips, and piles of rubble from where concrete has loosened and fallen.
The inside, is pretty gloomy, partly due to the weather and rot, but mostly because the windows in many of the rooms are absolutely tiny, so light doesn’t have much of a chance of entering. There’s a wealth of decorative coving and panelling (most of it either collapsing, or already collapsed), with many false ceilings and hanging lamps. I get a very French Neoclassical/Baroque vibe from it (with the odd moon door thrown in of course) which I guess is part of the ‘East-meets-West’ theme I assume they were going for.
The vast majority of the furniture has been stripped out, what little remains is either too bulky to bother with (huge cupboards, baths, toilets .etc) or totally worthless (kitchen accessories, damp/mouldy light fixtures), but you can still get a sense for how luxurious it must once have been from the ridiculous ornamentation that adorns (or in many cases adorned) the rooms and the few remaining amenities such as the hot tubs and steam room.
I really don’t get a ‘hotel’ vibe from this place so my feeling is that it was most likely built to be some kind of guesthouse or homestay, judging from the architecture, layout, and location. As to why it was left I really couldn’t say for sure – there are a wealth of reasons for abandonment in Taiwan, from circumstance, mismanagement, corruption – someone may have even died there, potentially ‘haunting’ it and making it very tough to live in or sell on. In this case though, I get the impression it wasn’t even really lived in – or if it was, it wasn’t for very long. Aside from a few scattered remnants in the kitchen indicating there was possibly someone here at one point, most of the bathroom ameneties looked brand new with labels still in place, so I suspect it was used briefly after it was completed, before some event occurred which lead to it’s desertion.
Given the area it’s in, it can often be hard to tell just how long a place has been abandoned – it’s proximity to the Northern coast exposes it to the inclement weather, tropical storms and humidity characteristic of the region, which can make short work of any building left unmaintained. I can see from a Streetview image that in this case it’s been empty since at least 2009, in which it looks to be in much better shape, so based on that, my guess would be that it’s lain dormant for at least a decade or more. Interestingly it also looked to be for sale in that photo, judging by a sign in the window. I somehow doubt they were successful.