06 September 2015

Rainbow Village Taiwan | Places to visit in Taichung

When planning the itinerary for our fifth trip to Taiwan in March 2013, I learnt about a vanishing landmark in Taichung and made it a point to visit Rainbow Village on our first day

Known as 彩繪眷村 in mandarin (cai hui juan chun), Rainbow Village is located at 台中市南屯區春安路五十六巷 (chun an road, lane fifty six) in the outskirts of Taichung City, about 30 minutes bus journey from the city.

When our taxi driver informed that we have reached our destination, I peeked out of the window and wonder where we were. He stopped the vehicle in front of some construction barricades. As we step out of the car into a narrow road, the driver told us to walk straight ahead (into a dead-end). It was deafeningly quiet at 9am in the morning. Hubby took the lead and I followed behind in fear of being robbed!

Turning into the quiet lane, we were soon greeted by a colorful striped brick wall and cheerful flower drawings on the cement path. I was relieved that we were at the right place. The paintings somehow reminded me of rangoli kolam during Deepavali, where our Indian neighbors would create flower drawings on their floor with colored rice flour or chalk.

Hubby asked if this was the fuss that we had traveled far to see. Opps...

He isn't the artsy fartsy kind and I had not explained to him that this colorful environment was the contributions of an elderly man who lived within the village

While we explored the village with our cameras, I explained to him that Mr Huang Yung-Fu, age 93 years now, single-handedly painted these colorful child-like illustrations on the village walls and grounds. This eventually saved his village from being demolished by the local government. 

Lovingly known as Grandpa Rainbow, he was a military veteran who fought against the Communists back in the days. After the ruling party Kuomintang lost the Chinese Civil war, he retreated to Taiwan with the military and stayed in this village since.

Built in the 1950s for these nationalist soldiers, the single storey residential houses were planned to be torn down for redevelopment. When we were in Rainbow Village Taichung in March 2013, there were only a number of houses left standing. There were parts of the village that had been demolished and hidden behind metal sheeting concealing the construction works. 

Grandpa Rainbow also painted on these metal sheeting :)

Even though his village has shrunk, Grandpa Rainbow's creative handiwork continue to draw people within Taiwan and from all around the world to visit his joyfully illustrated village. The local government yielded to the pouring requests and petitions to preserve the village.

When we headed back to our taxi, we saw a number of tour buses has stopped along the narrow road, bringing tourists in droves. Grandpa Rainbow has made his vanishing village into a popular tourist destination. Signage have been put up to inform visitors to keep their volume down and not disturb Grandpa Rainbow and his neighbors

Probably Hubby's favorite paintings :P

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of Grandpa Rainbow before we left the village, and quickly took a photo with him. We were amused as he posed with a victory sign and we followed suit (third photo in this blog post)

While it is free to visit Rainbow Village, donations are appreciated for Grandpa Rainbow for his livelihood and to buy paints. I understand from recent media articles and blog posts that there are now merchandise that you can purchase to support the village

Two and a half years may have past since our last visit. Knowing that the elderly Grandpa Rainbow is still well and healthy, that brings a smile to our faces