Anping Tree House
Welcome to Anping Tree House, part of Anping’s merchant houses. This tree house is not the name might suggest. Instead of makeshift room and tree, this tree house is actually an old abandoned tree house that is overgrown by banyans over half a century. In fact, the building you are now seeing was abandoned and ignored for a staggering 59 years. Only in 2004 was it opened to the public, after extensive renovation and refurbishment, and renamed “An Ping Tree House.”
During the years of neglect, the Tait & Co. building and the warehouse behind it slowly and inexorably became just a part of the landscape, forgotten and left to nature. The perennial invasion of nations into Anping was supplanted by the invasion of the banyan trees. The primary trunks of many of the older banyan trees now visible are indistinguishable from the “aerial prop roots” that have matured into these tentacle-like, thick, woody trunks. Some have spread laterally, almost serpentine in nature across what was once open ground, conjoined to their sisters. It almost appears that they are ONE living entity.
Watch your step! One of those roots might trip you up.
Indeed for the 59 years that the merchant house and the adjoining warehouse were left to the elements, there were rumors of ghosts and spirits inhabiting the buildings and the grounds. The superstitious nature of the locals believed many of these tales and the banyans were left in peace to move into their new home.
Walking around the Tree House at dusk can be a little eerie.
Anping Tree House is a very good example of how regenerative and awesomely powerful mother nature is. Natural phenomena can be devastating and lightning fast, or they can move more slowly than a snail’s pace, unseen, silent, and ghostlike.
So that’s Anping Tree House. Behind the tree house is the Yanshui River and the cannel built to support this warehouse. Let’s take a closer look. If you look towards the river, to the right you’ll see the entrance to a walkway and a viewing area looking over the river. It’s a great place for bird-watching. There’s also a pond now, but it used to be a wharf. A network of canals was created joining the British Houses of Tait & Co., Boyd & Co., Elles & Co., the American Wright & Co., and the German Julius Mannich. These canals enabled Taiwanese goods to be exported all over the world, and it also made rich men of the traders.
Before leaving, don’t forget to pay a visit to the trading house. The Trading House is now a museum. In some small part, it is a glimpse into the way in which Tainan, Taiwan, and the greater China of the day, coped with their military shortcomings in the face of overwhelming aggression from the emerging or longstanding colonial empires of the day. The British, French, Germans, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish all came here to trade, often in illicit goods. The Japanese were also dreaming of expansion and building their own empire, and stayed here as conquerors, for the longest period: fully 50 years, 1895 until 1945.
Today it is a place to muse on Tainan’s unique history and Anping’s place therein. It can become pretty hot and sticky during the long summer months. At the rear of the house there is a small open green area. In one of the buildings wonderful, delicious, locally-made ice cream is sold at a very reasonable price.
Thank you for joining along on Tainan City’s audio-guided tour of Anping Tree House and British Merchant house.
No.108, Gubao St., Anping Dist., Tainan City 708