Back to abandoned places for this week’s isolation blog! This place is one of my most favourite finds, in one of my most favourite countries (if we disregard my vegetarian food struggles).
An abandoned UFO resort in Taiwan!
I spent 10 days in Taiwan back in 2017 and have since been back for a cheeky long weekend to go hiking at Taroko Gorge. I also stopped by because it’s cheaper and quicker to fly to the Japanese Okinawa Islands from Taipei than it is from Tokyo – a top tip for you there! I feel Taiwan is very underrated country, in essence it has everything – mountains, sea, nature, futuristic modern cities, old traditional villages, arts projects, mix of cultures, super easy to travel around and everything is orderly – I love a good queuing system.
During my first trip I came across an abandoned holiday resort known as Wanli Village. However, it wasn’t just any normal abandoned holiday resort but an UFO abandoned holiday resort. Around that time there were rumours amongst the urbex community that Wanli had already been demolished. Wanli is about an hour north of Taipei and with very little else to discover in the area I needed to find out for sure before embarking on the journey. A couple of days before I searched the usual social apps to find recently posted pictures and I messaged a few of the people to find out when their pictures were taken. One confirmed it was just the day before, phew, so it hadn’t been demolished! That’s not to say it still could be any day so it’s always worth checking.
Turns out that the confusion about the demolition was that there was another resort – Sanzhi Pod Houses, also just outside of Taipei which had been demolished in 2010. I guess when you’re researching UFO houses and read pod houses you’d probably expect them to be one and the same, not thinking there are two very similar resorts both just outside of Taipei. So, it turns out it wasn’t a conspiracy theory and that the government were advertising that they were demolished to stop people from visiting (not that many do) but just mistaken identity.
A UFO house is actually a thing and they were officially named Futuro house. They were designed in the late 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. However, the production was halted in 1973 with only about 100 made, which makes you wonder whether Wanli village, which was supposedly constructed in the late 1970s has original Futuros’ or “Made in Taiwan” versions. There are architectural differences, mainly with the staircase and base. The original intention of the spaceship like buildings were to be ski chalets. They could be easily transported by helicopter in one piece or dismantled and reassembled on mountainous terrain. It just needed four concrete pillars to be put in place as the base for each of it’s tripod legs. The Futuros in Wanli didn’t have the same style legs, they are concrete legs attached to a concrete base which the pod sits on and they have stone staircases leading up to the main door. Quite different to the original design and to those that remain in existence.
Not only are there Futuros’ but also square box structures can be found here too known as Venturos. Not as exciting if you ask me.
At the time I visited I read that the village was originally built as a R&R base for American soldiers. The area was nicely positioned along the coast and during that time it was one of the beach areas that American’s were allowed to visit under the 38 year long marital law. Then suddenly one day everyone left the resort. I had read that there were rumours of the resort being built on top of an old cemetery (which I haven’t managed to verify since). During construction there were some unexplained deaths and suicides. Maybe it was the ghosts that drove the people away. Or maybe, just maybe it could be the most common reason, that unfortunately the economy wasn’t favourable and the company went out of business. The coastline ended up not being a very hospitable place for a resort so the weather may have also been a factor. All of these reasons seem to be nothing but speculation as there is very little information online now and my original sources have either been deleted or the entries have been changed and updated (*time for some more conspiracy theories?).
Wanli isn’t completely abandoned, there seems to be some people still living here. Some of the pods are in much better condition than others. There’s one that looks brand spanking new and has definitely a permanent resident. Some look as if they house temporary visitors (squatters? people needing shelter? kids hanging out?). The vast majority are completely derelict. There seems to be an addition of a few shipping containers placed around the village. They are properly set up to be lived in – with UPVC doors and at the time of my visit there were cars outside some of the properties. So, whilst it’s totally ok to visit the village, remember to be respectful. I’ve read that there’s supposedly a guard there now (maybe he lives in one of the containers and it was his car) and that entering the buildings are prohibited. Which of course makes complete sense – some of the buildings have been very badly weather beaten and everything inside has been left to the elements. I chose to stay outside and just photograph a few from where the door would have been.
Wanli is a great place to wander around, I was a little spooked at first as this was the first time I had visited an abandoned place but in the end I was more scared of the two stray dogs that were roaming the village at the time, always my biggest fear!
If you want to visit, the easiest way is to catch the 1815 bus towards Jinshan Youth Activity Center from Taipei City Hall. You’ll want to get off at Green Bay (翡翠灣), also known as Feicui Bay. The bus I caught had an LED sign saying what the next stop was. Luckily I had screenshot the characters so I compared each stop announcement with my picture and cautiously rang the bell when I thought they matched. Nowadays I would probably have it pinned the stop in Maps.me and just followed the route but that’s not as much fun! All of the bus information with an interactive route map can be found here.
Happy exploring x