Taiwan Fun Magazine, September 2006

Past and present at Treasure Hill

--By Charles McHale Translated by River Chen

Treasure Hill, in ZhongZheng Riverside Park, is arguably the most eccentric neighborhood in Taipei. It is home to the historic Treasure Shrine for GuanYin, Goddess of Mercy. The original temple is almost 300 years old and is located inside the newer temple built around and over it. Since the 1950s it has been a squatter community, with residents from all over Asia and Taiwan. The diversity of languages still spoken there didn't stop the residents from building a hive of houses from salvaged materials on the hill. It is Taipei's last example of organic architecture and September is your last chance to see it before the city begins renovations.

The Organization of Urban Re-s (OURs) manages Treasure Hill for the Bureau of Cultural Affairs. They run an artist residency program, a small bookstore and a crafts market, among other tasks. The residency program has seven artists, including Spring Scream organiser Jimi Moe and Yeh Li Wei.
Li Wei, a photgrapher, has lived on Treasure Hill for three years documenting the community. He is prominent in the Taipei art scene and currently is in two shows at Taipei Fine Arts Museum. He co-runs the Treasure Hill Tea and Photo House at the top of the hill. They have an ongoing art installation, gatherings and rooftop readings every other week.

The crafts market has a variety of handmade bags, cards, jewelry and other items. Some are even free. One stall, Contact, makes paper pulp products and will give you a free pencil made from paper if you draw the owner. For food, don't miss the rice noodles prepared by Mrs. Chen, the neighborhood chief and a 50-year resident.

Mina's Treasure Hive is Treasure Hill's cafe. Mina serves fresh juice, tea and coffee, beer and snacks. The cafe features live music and art exhibitions. They also lend frisbees, skates, basketballs and other items for enjoying the park--contributing to the Hill's laid-back community atmosphere.
Treasure Hill is at the end of Lane 230, DingZhou Road in GongGuan. Upcoming events listed in Arts & Culture What's On.