City Shots: Kaohsiung

Photos by MJ Klein

Hui-chen and I have been very busy traveling lately. We’ve been in Kaohsiung (to name one place) and I took some shots from a 12th floor window. It’s been awhile since I posted some city shots and these in particular are interesting because of the altitude. So, here goes:

City Shots: Kaohsiung
It seems that nearly every house has some kind of illegal addition to the top floor to create another room. Personally, I prefer the open roof space.


City Shots: Kaohsiung
We were located very near to the Kaohsiung airport and I was watching air traffic all morning.

City Shots: Kaohsiung
There is quite a mix of building types in Taiwan. From this height it seems like they are all just thrown together.

These are some examples of outdoor spaces on typical Taiwanese homes:

City Shots: Kaohsiung
These places have little to no outdoor space. In case of the corrugated roofing, the owner has covered up a flat open roof. Taiwanese people whom I have asked have told me that they prefer covered spaces. One of the difficult things about home shopping in Taiwan (for me) is finding a place that isn’t all covered over and locked up like a jail.

City Shots: Kaohsiung
This home has a tiny patio with a low wall. It’s certainly better than nothing.

Note the water tanks. Pumps run slowly on long duty cycles pumping water into the roof top tanks to create water pressure.

City Shots: Kaohsiung
This typical block house building has many patios that have been covered by the individual owners.

City Shots: Kaohsiung
What can happen is that you find yourself with the only open roof space and blocked in by the neighbor’s crappy construction. I don’t get it, but there are literally tens of thousands of these green corrugated sheet metal buildings and additions all over the country.

City Shots: Kaohsiung
This last photo is just to let you know how high I was up while hanging out the window getting these shots.

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15 comments

  1. I know what you mean about those locked down houses. I can’t stand my in-laws place. All the windows are barred, even the ones on the third floor. There’s a cage like structure covering the patio, also locked. If there’s ever a fire anyone in there is a goner.

    What’s up with those corrugated buildings? You’d think the government would go around fining anyone who had one of those. Maybe the government official is collecting an unofficial fine to look the other way.

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    1. owshawng » there are ads on TV for some quick-release systems so people can get out in an emergency. you’re right though – many people end up trapped, and therefore, dead. the corrugated building stuff is a way to get another room without having to move into another house. bigger means “rich” too, and some of that building mentality comes from old-style thinking. you have a 4 bedroom house (which by US standards is already a huge house) and you pop some corrugated on the top – presto, you now have a 6 bedroom house. most of that stuff was grandfathered in a few years ago. you can enclose places but you cannot add to them like you could years ago. what really kills me though is when i see all these brand new housing complexes with at least one fully enclosed unit where every single ray of sunlight is blocked. the owner buys the house and never once gets to enjoy being outside on the balcony. it’s just not important. being inside watching TV is more fun.

  2. These are unique shots. I also really like balconies, and our current 4-story house has five of them. I hang up clothes on a line on big 4th floor one, and I love being out in the open. There is no roof there, and in the summer, I have to wear a shaded visor to deal with the glare, but I love it open. I haven’t ever been up the ladder to where the water tank is; I wonder what our roof looks like.

    At my school, they bricked up the one office window I had – for some weird reason, and sometimes I just stand on the balcony outside the classrooms to look at trees, and passersby sometimes think I am crazy doing this – especially if I stand IN the sunshine ;).

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    1. Sandy » that’s really it, isn’t it? if you stand in the sunlight, you’re strange. what a shame it would be to actually get a tan! there is some social stigma attached to getting darker and i think it’s stupid. so all of the outdoor spaces must be covered up so you cannot possibly be exposed to the sun.
      you may want to venture up to where the water tanks are someday because that might be the coolest space ever! you can always put in a staircase to go up there, and that kind of stuff is cheap in Taiwan.
      HC and i have been looking at new houses and we’re having trouble finding one with the right combination of features, which include outdoor spaces. you should show us all some shots of your cool house!

    1. owshawng » i spend time on commerical towers, so i got over a lot of my fear of heights. going up 200′ without a safety belt will do that! but that’s not the same as looking out a window on the 12th floor. in many ways, looking out the window seems worse.

  3. My apartment in Yokkaichi, Japan, had big sliding glass doors in the bedroom and living room that faced south. As a result, the sunlight would brighten up the rooms throughout most of the day, and helped keep our electric bills down. My place here in Shengang, on the other hand, seems to have been designed with the idea of shutting out as much sunlight as possible. Even in the middle of the afternoon, we sometimes have to turn on the lights in the living room in order to see. I can’t understand why some Taiwanese willingly sink their life’s savings into buying concrete tombs more suited to vampires than humans!

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    1. Kaminoge » the place in Yokkaichi sounds wonderful! what a stark comparison to those locked down “concrete tombs” (well put!) that are cold and dark. sunlight even helps with keeping the place warm in the winter time. thanks for the comments.

  4. MJ. I would hate living in something like that. You think a really nice open top living area with room to entertain and relax would add value to your place when there are so many of those ugly corragated iron places.

    Maybe you are living amongst a city of vampires like here in Thailand. The sun shines and everyone covers up every bit of skin. Use umbreallas. books jackets and anything else available to stop sun shining on their olive skin. They are petrified of getting as they say ‘black skin’.

    Great pictures and you really were close to the airport. Does it take international flights or just domestic. I could see one large plane on the 3872 X 2592 original size picture.

    Brunty’s last blog post..Thailand. Australia Day Isaan Style.

    1. Brunty » i’ve seen The Invisible Woman here on many occasions. hat, full face scarf, sunglasses, gloves, long sleeve shirt and pants, in 33 degree weather. insane…. yes that is Kaohsiung airport and they are international as well as domestic. some flights from Thailand come in there. take care.

  5. So much for inspirational Asian modern architecture. I often wonder why people on lower levels don’t complain about the illegal structures — wouldn’t these structures harm the building’s integrity in an earthquake zone?

    1. Boyd R. Jones » in these shots featured in the article, the buildings in question are single, multi-floored units. so, those shabby sheet metals covers are on the top floor of a home owned by the same person. but in the case where someone has enclosed the top section of apartment style homes, i have never once heard about anyone complaining. usually the viewpoint is, whoever is on the ground floor owns the yard, and whoever is on the top floor owns the roof. as for harming the building’s integrity, i’m not sure that’s an issue because that stuff just sits on top. but it certainly is a danger if it falls down on someone. thanks for your comments Boyd.

  6. My family is from Kaohsiung. I think the reason all the apartments are so enclosed are to deal with the heat and pollution, and to keep out the noises of the city. It’s not a beautiful city by any means, so there wouldn’t be much of a view either. My family’s home in Kaohsiung (a 5 story building for the extended family) has a large side balcony and a huge rooftop, though, so not everyone is like that. My grandfather used to have a huge garden up there with a starfruit tree. Unfortunately, this building is now dilapidated. The light skin thing is a class issue. For so many years, it was a clear distinction between who had to labor in the sun and who had an indoor job. I’m not excusing this behavior or the ugly architecture, but that’s just the way people think in Taiwan. Speaking of architecture, to add insult to injury, everything is so wet and humid all the time, the corrugated metal rusts up and maintenance is just not done. UGLY!!!

    Sandy’s last blog post..How to Check if a Visa or Passport is Needed for Travel

    1. Sandy » i like how Kaohsiung looks. it was a planned city with wide boulevards, lighted street signs and a logical layout. plus the 2nd tallest building in Taiwan and with a very interesting structure too. i like the Love River, and also the island nearby (forgot the name but i’ve been there). i like a great deal about Kaohsiung :). you make some interesting points Sandy. i think that these days, the white/dark skin issue is about what women think makes them look attractive, more than anything else. i’m not sure about males, but i haven’t seen any men in Taiwan that seem to care whether they are dark or light. thanks very much for your comments!!

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