I’m good at finding stuff on the Internet (no comments please!) but I’m often rubbish at locating it on a map. Step up Kirsty; she’s brilliant at it. Apart from knowing which Taiwanese city this abandoned hospital was in, I’d all but given up on finding its exact location.
One thing you learn early on when developing an interest in visiting abandoned places is that other urban explorers often don’t give away exact locations. Indeed, the whole idea of doing so is frowned upon by more serious/hardcore members of the community and, instead, if they are going to give anything away at all, it is likely to be a series of clues rather than a set of GPS coordinates.
Whether this is to protect the location in question from receiving too many visitors, prevent vandalism or to heighten the experience (the thrill of finding it, etc.) is not clear to me. Perhaps more serious urban explorers are simply just tight-lipped and don’t want anyone else to see what they’ve seen?
Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria is an example of an abandoned structure that has garnered popularity over recent years and attracted far too many visitors of the wrong type. Damage has been rife and to protect the monument from further vandalism and destruction, there is now a permanent guide on site, 24-hours a day. What’s more, I confess we also get a thrill if we’ve found a location using a bit of detective work rather than having it handed to us on a plate. And I can certainly see why many urban explorers don’t give away vital information, namely the location, about the places they have documented. I know from experience that a lot of research, sometimes expense (hiring a car for example) and considerable personal risk can go into exploring such places. In fact, Kirsty and I differ in opinion on how much information we should provide here on our blog when it comes to our urban exploration. In order for our blog to grow, we need to provide as much useful content as possible. This is Kirsty’s view and I get it but, I confess, I struggle with it sometimes. We compromise. If we have found a location easily, using information provided by others then we will also be generous with what we divulge on our website. But, if we’ve expended a lot of time and effort and there is little else online then we may hold back on the detail we provide.
Our conundrums aside, we badly wanted to explore this former hospital and, after I’d brought it to Kirsty’s attention, she patiently trawled through, and translated a bunch of websites, written in Chinese, for about two hours, and finally worked out exactly where the building was located.
Getting to and inside Yuanlin Hospital
As for the hospital itself, it is situated in the small Taiwanese city of Yuanlin, about a twenty-minute walk from the main railway station. There’s not much else of interest in Yuanlin so we decided not to overnight there. Instead, we stopped en route from Chiayi, where we had spent part of the previous day exploring the nearby, supposedly-haunted, Old Liu Family Mansion, to Changhua, our next destination, where we made a beeline for an unusual fan-shaped train garage.
We had a bit of a debacle placing our rucksacks in the left luggage lockers at Yuanlin train station but, with the help of about six young girls from the onsite Tourist Information Centre, we eventually worked it out and thereafter headed off in the direction in the hospital.
When we arrived, there was no one else around but almost instantly we heard the sound of children. One of the clues we had gleaned from our research was the hospital’s close proximity to a school but it actually turned out to be right next door and you could see the school playground quite clearly.
There was no need for us to skulk around looking for a way in. The main entrance was completely open and no attempts had been made to seal it.
The hospital dates back to the 1960s and remained in use for almost forty years. Even though it was difficult for us personally to locate it, the hospital is actually quite well known in the Taiwanese media and has even been used as a filming location for a television drama series called Love,Timeless. Inside, we found quite a few, what were presumably, staged props including a guitar resting on a chair and some chemistry apparatus, which had been meticulously placed on a desk.
As with many of the abandoned locations we explored in Taiwan, we soon discovered that there were spooky stories attached to this building. The main one involved some local kids, presumably from the nearby school, who spotted a body hanging from the ceiling. It was picked up by the press and the hospital received notoriety. It turned out it was just a dummy used as a prop during one of the filming sequences and the crew members hadn’t bothered to take it down. Either that or they had a warped sense of humour and thought it would be amusing to leave the body hanging there, awaiting discovery!
We explored both levels as well as the roof and also poked around outside where we found some atmospheric roots engulfing the outer walls of the building and also a corroding ambulance parked up in a nearby garage.
Yuanlin Hospital wasn’t the best abandoned location we explored in Taiwan. That accolade goes to either the Futuro Village at Wanli or the Qianyue building in Taichung but, it was the most satisfying simply because of all the effort we (well Kirsty!) put into finding it.
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