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  1. 大家好! My oh my, how long has it been since I posted a report? Exploring has become a low priority for me ever since I left the UK, even if I've always kept tabs on new sites shared here and on social media. Truth be told learning Mandarin and my lady have taken a much bigger priority in recent years, plus my lady is no fan of me going about it alone so that makes organising jaunts more challenging. I have visited a fair few sites around Taiwan, but compared to Europe there is so little here to get me to jump on the next train there because beautiful architecture is just so rare and even noteworthy industrial sites are few and far between; many places are just rotting concrete shells. So this report here is meant to be a compilation of my latest explores to date which I feel don't have enough bite to warrant standalone reports. There will be more reports to come in the future, but since I left my torch and tripod in England it will be some time before I visit these. I trust the results will not be disappointing though. 亞哥花園/Encore Garden, July 2018 Visited with some colleagues and non-explorers. I'd always been aware of this one, as it's situated close to my favourite hiking trails just outside of Taizhong where I live. But being me I never made a move until last year. It's an abandoned theme park in Dakeng district, opened in 1981 and was a hugely popular site that attracted around 1m people a year. Like several sites in Taiwan it was hit by the 921 earthquake in 1999 which severely damaged the area, causing attendance to drop dramatically. Eventually the financial losses incurred forced the place to close in 2008. On most days there is a security guard with dogs at the top of the site, living in a shack. However as of last year the entire site has been repurposed as a rally racetrack. Pay $100 (that's £2.50) to enter and you can sit back and spectate, but before that we chose to explore the park first. Initially we were in full stealth mode, when we spotted people in hi vis vests dotted around the site as well as the guard's dogs barking at us, but after seeing others drive round with their scooters we realised it was a free for all for today. What I found really fascinating about exploring in Taiwan compared to Europe and other places is how the fertile, humid tropical enviroment is far more hostile to built structures which means nature takes over rapidly once the place is abandoned; the restaurant was completely covered in thick, thick dust, and other structures had started to be completely invaded by tree branches. Old arcade machines left behind Because of thick shrub finding the entrance to this ride took a bit of careful searching, but we got to it. It turns out as long as we stayed off the roads as much as possible, we were at free to roam whenever we wanted. The racing stewards didn't mind us at all. Unfortunately the outdoor auditorium was inaccessible because there were too many race cars on the route leading up to it. Another thing that's incredibly striking about Taiwan and nature is the frequency of earthquake tremors. In my experience they seem to hit every few months, and in mountainous and rural areas can trigger minor (or major) landslides; look at the next 2 pictures and compare to older photos... By stark contrast to the western world, obviously with a few exceptions Asians and the Taiwanese have utmost respect for abandoned sites. Whether this be rooted in a fear of the supernatural (people in the west believe in ghosts, but superstitions are taken far more seriously here), they treat abandoned sites as tombs and relics of the past to be treated with respect. It's because of this, little if any effort is made to seal any buildings from intruders and yet sites see so little vandalism. Security guards are rare, too. Another thing is that for several sites upon closure and abandonment the owners do not bother to remove items from buildings, regardless of their value. The fundamental exception to this rule being statues and religious iconography, because to leave these to rot is to bring huge misfortune on one's life. So although decent sites are indeed rare, exploring those that are around are unique experiences in which you can really lose yourself and let your imagination run free. I then made my way inside the buildings in the middle of the site, and was stunned to find the power still on. It turns out even on a Sunday there were workers inside. Unfortunately the site manager walked in, then politely asked me to leave after this photo was taken. It's far from epic, but it's well worth sharing as it's so vastly different from Crapalot. I'm still alive by the way... Thank you so much for reading, and it's a real pleasure to be back. TBM x
  2. Not a permission visit. but I had to choose a prefix! haha As you may imagine its not that easy searching for places in a country who's language mostly look like pictures but i did come across this, and track it down while i was over in Taiwan with work. But I'm so glad I did, I really enjoyed this one, even if its a bit bland in places it was just great to find something. It took about 30 mins to walk to from the hotel, armed with the old school Google map print out in hand as i wasn't paying the data charges! Access was walk in and on exiting I scared the crap out of a group of local teens, I think a Englishman appearing from the basement was the last thing they expected.
  3. This was the second site of the day; it was a 20 min walk from the hospital with the second trusty printed out Google map in my hand. On the way over I saw a tea shop so I went in, I very quickly realised they didn’t speak any of the Queens so I pointed at a picture of what was a cold tea drink. On leaving with my tea in a bag (don’t know why it was in a bag) I realised I had come away with bloody cold milk with added bloody sugar! I didn't drink much of that, the gag reflex made sure of it! I found this site on flickr and thought it could be quite good, and I loved it. Again I don’t have any info on it but it's been mostly empty for some time, just a couple of units are still used including a food hall. In the basement it was full of old arcade machines covered in dust, and 2 units in the far corner still used. I walked past to see a guy on his own running some sort of karaoke bar, He just sat there the whole time belting out some tunes for me to explore by. It was very surreal and slightly sad. Here is the video from Instagram I made down there so you can hear the guy singing away, quality ain't great as it's off the mobile http://iconosquare.com/p/908188132137116808_1684232
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