Erenlai - Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉
Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉

Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉

Growing cities and declining hinterland- or is the plot more complex? We look for a new equilibrium between these two faces of Asia and celebrate the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems, through pictures, videos, essays and poems.



週一, 03 三月 2014











週一, 08 四月 2013



撰文∣ 施春煜 攝影|梁准

週三, 25 七月 2012

Last Fight, Last Hope

After capturing and presenting the atmosphere at night in the Huaguang community - one of the last mainlanders village left in central Taipei-, here are the voices and faces of its last residents. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old Times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the ministry of Justice, mainlanders' families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial center called "Taipei Wall Street". The residents are claiming for Justice and decent solutions.

週五, 22 六月 2012

Life on the Yangtze in the early 20th century

My grand-father had always been a great fan of photography. As a photographer himself he did some exhibitions with his own pictures and had the opportunity to share his passion with many people.

During one of his exposition for the « Week of Arts » at the Lanvignec Junior High School of Paimpol the school bursar told him she had very old pictures in her attic and would like to share them with him. These pictures were in fact photographic glass plates taken between 1903 and 1905 in China by the old landlord. My grand-father who was very interested in sharing these began to take pictures of the plates using his own camera and developed them in his photography studio.

He then proceeded to make contact with the family of the original photographer, Leon Collos, a sailor, and his grandson encouraged him to pursue his work in order to honor the officer's memory.

Leon Collos was a sailor during the 1900's, he was born in Noumea in 1879 and died aboard the Kleber in 1917 after the ship was hit by a mine. Collos was honoured afterwards for his bravery during the sinking. He stayed aboard the ship until the last sailors could escape, and continued leading his men with great self-control.

Old picture of the Kleber crew.

Nowadays the Kleber wreck can be found near the Brest harbor, in Brittany, and many scuba-divers like to explore it as it was very well conserved. You can find pictures of the Kleber taken by Hervé Severe in may 2003 on this website and also watch this video made by the CSA Diving Club of Brest which regularly goes diving near the wreck by clicking this link.



Picture of the Olry taken by the crew of the english gunboat Kinsha. Source

During his career in the navy he was an officer on the Olry, a french gunboat that travelled along the Yangtze river in China. He stayed 3 years on this boat and had the occasion to take pictures shown here.

Boats and harbours:

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Near the river:

{slimbox images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/01.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_01.jpg, Ngan King; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/02.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_02.jpg, Wankiiato; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/03.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_03.jpg, Les 3 porches; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/05.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_05.jpg, Porte de Fou Tou Koan; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/06.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_06.jpg, Tchong King; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/07.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_07.jpg, Tatung; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/08.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_08.jpg, De Tchang King à Tchantou; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/09.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_09.jpg, Nui KanMa Fei; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/10.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_10.jpg, Ouan Kiato; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/11.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_11.jpg, Pagode Luo Kin; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/12.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_12.jpg, Shanghai : Pont des 7 brisures; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/14.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_14.jpg, Fang Shian; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/15.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_15.jpg, Wankiato : Repas des charpentiers; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/18.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_18.jpg, Vers la carène; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/22.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_22.jpg, Shanghai : Arroya de Longhoa; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/23.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_23.jpg, Pagode Lao Kin : Le grand boudha de la source; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/24.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_24.jpg, Pagode Long Hoa; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/27.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Horizontal/tn_27.jpg, Hankou Ichang; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/35.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_35.jpg, Tour Long Hau; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/36.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_36.jpg, Kouen Tchu; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/37.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_37.jpg, Tchang King Tchen Tou; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/40.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_40.jpg, Fong Shian; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/41.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_41.jpg, Han Kéou; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/42.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_42.jpg, La Jonque; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/43.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_43.jpg, La Félicité; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/44.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_44.jpg, Shangai Fou Chou Road; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/45.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_45.jpg, Wian kiato : Arc de Triomphe; images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/46.jpg,images/stories/Leon_Collos/Vertical/tn_46.jpg, Route des Bungalows}


Original pictures by Leon Collos taken between 1903 and 1905, rediscovered and scanned by Jean-Claude Baron, arranged digitally by Witold Chudy and Marie Baron.

週一, 30 四月 2012

A World Falling Apart

The Huaguang community (華光社區) is one of the last mainlander villages left in central Taipei. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the Ministry of Justice, mainlander families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial centre called "Taipei Wall Street". Inhabitants are calling for justice and decent relocation solutions. Through this documentary, a collection of nocturnal colors photography, the presence of the inhabitants is suggested but not shown outright, their anger and frustration is just acknowledged but not emphasized. The wall and windows, the alleys and the vegetation, where you can feel the sweat of their existence, are all photographed by night to underlie the unreal mood that will follow the demolition. No digital retouchings have been made to the photos; all shot with a Kodak Ektar Chrome 100.


週五, 02 九月 2011




週日, 05 十二月 2010




週三, 27 十月 2010

After the Show

The Shanghai World Expo is coming to an end… Six months and around seventy million visitors after its launch, what will remain of this mammoth happening?

The most enduring legacy will be the reshaping of Shanghai, the dense metro networks, innovative urban planning and international outlook. Truly, this has been a coming of age event, and its effects will be long term.

Besides this, the event has been mostly a “Fair”, a kind of festival. Chinese people have been coming from afar to get glimpses of world diversity or just to enjoy themselves. For sure, there have been many group visits fostered by work units and other institutions, but it was somehow moving to witness the zeal of individual visitors, quite a number of them elderly people who were seeing in this event a once in a lifetime opportunity. I met with an elderly couple of photographers coming from Chengdu who stayed in Shanghai for a good part of the summer and visited no less that 150 pavilions…. As a reluctant visitor who painfully reached the threshold of 3 pavilions visited and found the experience already rather exhausting, I could not help to feel deeply impressed. Many Chinese coming from far away provinces were rising up at 5am so as to be among the first ones in the queue and were coming home late at night, only to then download pictures and comments on their blogs. Actually, I realized that telling your blog’s readers where you had been and what you had done was a major incentive in realizing such feast of sheer will and energy…

On the other hand, it seems that the foreign audience was much more modest than originally expected. And, for an event focused around green and sustainable cities, the final contribution to the future of city life seems to me remarkably modest. My overall impression has been the one of a show – a rather good show actually – that was played to the benefit and for the contentment of a Chinese audience happy for the “free gift” that such event was representing. The happening was well in line with what the Olympic Game had already been, and as successful in terms of image and organization.

Do world fairs still have a future? There will be other such events after Shanghai 2010, but the genre needs to be renewed. Shanghai has shown the concept’s everlasting attraction as well as the severe limits that such happenings are now meeting with. In any case, the city has now secured a leading role on both the Chinese and world scenes for many more decades to come.

Photo: BV

Paul Farrelly also went to the Shanghai World Expo: he tells us why he didn't go to the Chinese pavilion and why you should go to the South Korean one instead of the Australian one...

週三, 04 八月 2010

A glimpse into Matsu’s island

Have you ever heard of Matsu?

Most of the people I have met in Taiwan or abroad who never been to Matsu refer to it as a military island or think of the famous Chinese Goddess of the Sea: “Mazu” (馬祖). Unfortunately not many people know about this beautiful and quiet island (actually, Matsu is an archipelago of 19 small islands, divided into four townships*), which belongs to Lienchiang County (連江縣) of the Republic of China (ROC). Matsu is situated in the Taiwan Strait, only 10 miles (16 km) away from China, close to Fujian province, but 120 miles (193 km) away from Taiwan. I was astonished to see at Nangan harbor how very close China is to Matsu, just 40 minutes by boat.

My first trip to Matsu was during the Chinese New Year and I will never forget it. Indeed, as you might say, I did not choose the right time to go to this island. The weather was bad and all the residents of Matsu were going back home to Matsu to spend New Year with their families. My flight was delayed and I had to wait until the next day before to take another plane.... However, there were no normal passenger planes and I had to take a military transport airplane. Everyone was in the baggage hold, sitting all together in two long rows, not so comfortable but quite worth it simply for the experience. Fortunately, the plane trip was short, only 45 minutes, and I did not have to jump by parachute for the landing. This reinforced my strong impression that Matsu is well served by its nickname of Military Island! However, I discovered during my stay on this island that Matsu is much more than just a military island.

Matsu was the furthest military outpost of Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalists when the Communists established their power in the mainland in 1949. Since 1992, when martial law on the island was lifted, the number of soldiers stationed on Matsu has significantly decreased, as has as the fishing industry, which has had an adverse effect on Matsu’s economy. Consequently, with the support of the Taiwanese government, Matsu decided to develop a cultural economy. For example, many military facilities and historic monuments can now be visited, such as the secret military tunnels. They were built during the 1950s to hold ships that could launch surprise attacks on the mainland. It is quite amazing that the existence of these tunnels was unknown even by the residents of Matsu until 1992. Capitalizing on the fame of its Goddess namesake, the tallest statue of Mazu in the world is in Nangan Township.

lise_darbas_matsu2In addition, I was quite impressed by Matsu’s unique stone houses, built in the style of Eastern Min architecture. Indeed, the native people of Matsu were originally immigrants from Eastern Fujian or Eastern Min, so they do not speak Taiwanese but the Fuzhou dialect (福州話, or閩北話). One of the most well-known traditional sites, the village of Qinbi in Beigan (dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties), bears a strong resemblance to Mediterranean architecture. Most of these houses are nowadays not inhabited during winter vacations. They have been restored and converted into art galleries, coffee shops and bed and breakfast guesthouses to cater for tourists. Walking between these houses made me felt like if I was in a small ghost town. There was strong wind coming from the sea, and I noticed the peculiarity of the roof tiles of the stone houses, which were all weighed down with rocks to defend against the wind. Winter vacation is not the ideal time to fully enjoy Matsu, rather the best time to go to this island is from June to November. During this period the weather is much more favorable for hiking and enjoying a coffee on the terrace of stone houses next to the seaside.

Matsu is now trying its best to lure tourist and attract more interests. Before going to Matsu, I heard of Josh Wenger, an American doctoral student at National Taiwan University who won a competition to be mayor of Matsu for a day. In October 2009, inspired by the famous publicity of “The best job in the world” on Hamilton Island (part of Australia's Great Barrier Reef), Matsu had the brilliant idea to create an online quiz of 10 questions on Matsu’s geographical and historical facts to promote itself. The winner had the amazing opportunity to become the mayor of Matsu for one day, with an award of NT$10,000, and a stay of 3 days and 2 nights in free accommodation.

lise_darbas_Josh_Matsu_5I interviewed Josh who was deeply impressed by Matsu, which he describes as an interesting island with a rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural sites, friendly people and exceptionally tasty food, which was some of the best he has ever tasted in Taiwan. The food he enjoyed the most was fresh seafood, such as seafood noodles, the Buddha hands (炒佛手), and fried clams (炒花蛤). I also found Matsu’s food very delicious, for example, I enjoyed eating Matsu’s “Red rice yeast chicken” (紅糟雞) in the small cozy coffee shop “Lady Coffee” (夫人咖啡) next to the coast in Nangan Township.

Josh’s favorite places were in Beigan island, such as “Biyuan Park” (碧園, which means “green garden”) a small beautiful park with plaques containing the names of soldiers who lost their lives serving in the military; the mountain “Bishan” (北竿大沃山) is the highest peak of the Matsu island with an incredible view of Beigan island, and the “88 tunnel” (八八坑道), which originally took its name to commemorate Chiang Kai-shek’s 88th birthday. Since 1992, this tunnel is no longer a military facility, but is instead used by the people of Matsu to keep their best old rice liquor (老酒) in ceramic pots.

Following on from my short stay in Matsu, and after having interviewed Josh, I became even more interested by this small island. Although Matsu is not as well known as the main island of Taiwan, it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting historical and natural sites I have visited here. I believe that Matsu is an indispensable destination for understanding cross-Strait relations. Moreover, Matsu’s cultural assets such as the stone houses are some of the most important attractions of the island, and have given Matsu a charm and special atmosphere that seems to be from another time. What was once a frontier of the Cold War is now ideal tourist spot for a relaxing couple of days.

(Photos courtesy of J. Wenger and L. Darbas)


“Matsu National Scenic Area,”

“Matsu’s best-kept cultural heritage: Eastern Min architecture at Qinbi village,”

Watch Josh Wenger’s report about his experience being the mayor of Matsu:「 一日縣長」溫賈舒:馬祖的美麗景點,絕對要去看


*Nangan (南竿鄉), Beigan (北竿鄉), Juguang (莒光鄉), Dongyin (東引鄉)

週五, 26 三月 2010

Tianmu’s ‘Jungle’ is in danger

Located in the north west of Taipei city, Tianmu is a pleasant quarter: a quiet and calm environment quietly bisected by the Huangxi River with Yanming Mountain rising at the back. Tianmu has become one of the favourite places for foreigners to live in Taipei and is well known as a pleasant place for a stroll. In Chinese ‘tian’ means ‘sky’ and ‘mu’ means ‘mother’ but I would say that more so than the sky, it is Mother Nature who has given Tianmu most of its beauty. Now development plans threaten to destroy much of this.

I have been informed by a resident of Tianmu that a huge real estate project is to replace the green space along the river. This green part of Tianmu, called ‘the Jungle’ by some residents, extends for 5,000 square metres. A big part of the space is a private ground owned by an old woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is not able anymore to fight for her land rights. Because she likes trees so much she protected this area all her life. Thanks to her acts, today this ground holds more than 30 different kinds of tree such as cotton tree, flamboyant tree and the money tree. Furthermore, 26 special trees are protected by the law due to their environmental value (most of these trees are more than 100 years old). You can also find squirrels, frogs, the blue magpie and a species of eagle (the Crested Goshawk) that cannot be seen anywhere else in Taipei. In concrete terms, if nothing is done to protect ‘the Jungle’ then it will be the end of this amazing green space along the river.

A very concerned resident of the Tianmu west road received me in his house and showed me ‘the Jungle’. In order to have the best view, we went on the roof of his building and from here I saw: a ground covered by trees with the river running in the middle and the Yanming Mountain in the back , what an amazing landscape! I also could hear birds and the sound of the river. For one second I forgot that I was in a city that has more than 2 million inhabitants. On these grounds, you will also find three rare traditional houses. The famous movie director Li Han Xiang, who directed more than 80 movies and won the best director award at the Golden Horse Awards in 1965, lived in one for 8 years. Less than 6 months ago, an old man who was still living in one of those three houses was asked to leave to allow the grounds to be cleaned. Since that day nobody knows where he now lives.

Tianmu8The lose of this rare green area will be a pity for all and because they are the most directly concerned by the situation, residents of Huangxi river area decided to gather and fight. They started a petition against the real estate project that has already been signed by 2,500 residents, or 95% of all Tianmu west road residents.

But it seems that the fight is unfair: residents on one side against banks and powerful companies on the other. The project that the Shilin Kaifa ( branch of the Shilin Dianxi Company) wants to build is a $2 billion NTD project, financially large enough to sweep environmental considerations aside. A first project was rejected by the competent authorities because of environmental consideration but another project that ensures the conservation on site of the protected trees was approved and the construction should start very soon. What does the approved project means by “preserve trees on site”? It does not mean that trees cannot be moved, it just means that you can uproot a tree and plant it again at a different place inside the ground. But according to research most of the trees die 2 or 3 years after replanting. When applied to century old trees, this process is even more delicate.

In April 2009, the building company destroyed 5 protected trees without authorization before a neighbour stopped them from destroying more trees. How much does the destruction of a protected tree cost? The price of the fine is only $70,000NTD per tree. Definitely not heavy enough to dissuade real estate companies. Having to pay $70,000NTD per tree is nothing compared to the potential gains of a $2 billion NTD project.

There remains time to get in on the act and defend the green around the Huangxi River. These kinds of ground are getting more and more rare inside cities and should be protected. Are we really to let this real estate project ruin the heritage of this old woman, a heritage that is enjoyed by the residents of Taipei? Banks and big companies surely have a huge influence but it is time to gather and show them that for some people preserving nature and a certain way of life is priceless.


More information can be found at:

Or contact Anne ZHOU: Email住址會使用灌水程式保護機制。你需要啟動Javascript才能觀看它



Photos provided by Marie Delaplanche and the Old Trees association

週五, 12 二月 2010

Park creativity in Taipei County

The park authorities in Taipei County pride themselves on being creative with park creation and this is causing a consciousness about beauty in their own parks amongst the residents all around Taipei County. One new idea is shaping the growth of flowers based on the patterns on ancient turtle bone characters...

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週二, 05 一月 2010

Spaces Worth Remembering

[dropcap cap="U"]rban regeneration and the breathing of new life into old districts has been a topic of discussion for over 50 years in the US, Europe and Japan. More than just a construction process, it can also be a social and cultural lifeline. More than the benefits to tourism from a successful return to the past in the old streets, what really deserves attention is the building of a living space brimming with charm for the normal residents. The local residents will always play the most important role in urban regeneration.[/dropcap]

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