(Thank you to a couple of comment writers below! It appears the site has changed a bit from my visit and the main building is bare. I will check it and update as soon as I have time and don't have a sprained ankle. Thank you Stephen for the extra info about its use as a production house. Have added details.)
I get a ton of questions about this place so I thought I should write about it fairly early on. Just north of Xizhi are a pair of large buildings, that at first glance look like an office building, or some industrial facility.
When I first wrote this entry I had no idea, but now I know at least one use of this building. One thing about it is certain. It was used as a filming location for the popular drama series Meteor Garden, which was released between 2000 - 2002. Thanks to Wes, who pointed out where it appears in the series, I've been able to correlate some photos.
It looks as though the building was built in the late 90's. On knowing its use I know why the faux-luxury furnishings were left there, and why they seemed so cheap and tacky. They're all movie props! It still feels like a hotel, with many individual rooms and suites, so it's possible this was an intended use at some-point, but also these could just have been for cast members. I only know that it was used for Meteor Garden. It would be strange to have built it for just one show, and it doesn't feature that heavily, so there must have been other uses planned. At the southern end is a huge two level apartment, which seems more complete than the others. It seems this was the main characters' apartment in the series, and it appears in a lot of shots.
One of the things I like about exploring these places, is trying to piece together the stories of what happened there and who was involved. It's been great to finally know some answers. The fifth and sixth levels are unfinished, with some building materials still in place, and there are some large rooms several floors tall. These I now realize were studios, and the materials were used for constructing sets. It's still a mystery to me why it was abandoned though. The building is in the middle of the mountains, and seems totally out of place, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a no go on environmental grounds. I heard after we visited that a murder had taken place here, and a friend's wedding photographers wouldn't enter because of this. So that could possibly be why nothing has happened here, as Taiwanese are generally fearful of ghosts.
It was very interesting to explore and two years ago at least many of the furnishings were still in place, giving it a recently deserted feel. There was a lot weathered and broken furniture, and nature was taking over parts, but the damage was not extensive. There were even a couple of chandeliers hanging. The floor of the ballroom had been damaged by water and had a strange undulating look. Where mirrors had fallen there was a beautiful rivulet effect on the wall behind. It's not often you find a place that so perfectly looks like humanity vanished in the late 90's and I loved wondering around here. The building is huge and I've only posted a fraction here.
The building was easy to access and no attempt had been made to guard or secure it. There were a couple of other people checking it out on the same day. The second smaller building is totally empty and not very interesting.
Meteor Garden itself was a hugely popular show. The house is used by the main character who is young and very rich. He's also arrogant and seems to think he can win over the woman of his dreams with his money. They fall in love, out again, in again... It's been a bizarre feeling seeing the place on a TV show. Happiness at seeing places the I'd been in another existence, tempered with a sadness that it all went to ruin. The more clips I've watched the more the people in it feel a little real, even though it looks so corny through modern eyes.
I managed to find this place zooming around on Google Earth, I've actually found a lot that way.
Find other places on the Hidden Taiwan Map