Shimen Reservoir is a big man-made lake in the mountains outside Taoyuan City. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and nowadays there are more than ten distinct tourist attractions in the area. As everyone knows, with tourists come business opportunities, and a number of hotels, restaurants and cafés have sprung up along the lake shore. In the past it was common for visitors to stay overnight but as transportation improved, especially with the construction on the No. 3 highway, the market for hotels has gone down. As a result several of the big hotel complexes have gone bankrupt over the years. With no one willing to invest in them, the buildings have become abandoned and started to deteriorate.
My friend Jean stumbled upon one of these abandoned hotels when he was in the area back in February. We have been thinking about going to check it out ever since then but there has always been other stuff in the way. Last weekend we finally decided to do it, there was just one problem, neither of us knew the exact location of the place. After a bit of searching around I found one abandoned hotel which is even marked on Google maps but it wasn’t the same as the one Jean had found. Some further research revealed that there are actually four abandoned hotels near the reservoir. So we made a plan to check out all of them, starting with the one marked on the map, Sesame Hotel.
Since it had been a while, Renegade Wife and I took my motorbike to go there. It was a really enjoyable ride on some good roads with good views. Even if you’re not into urban exploration, I can recommend Shimen Reservoir as destination for bikers. Anyway, we reached the location of the hotel, parked the bike, met up with Jean, then went on foot to check out the place. We quickly realized that there wasn’t just one abandoned hotel there but two, and both of them had big signs on the entrances saying it was forbidden to enter. This was a disappointment but Jean mentioned he had seen another one down the hill with an empty swimming pool which seemed promising. Going down the hill we realized that he had just seen the other side of the Sesame Hotel. There were no signs here so we considered jumping the fence but thought better of it when we saw people inside. We tried talking to them, thinking that they might let some curious foreigners come in and take a look, but no dice. We had to give up on that one but did at least snap a couple of photos from the outside.
The second hotel, called the Rice Village Hotel (don’t ask me about the name), had ‘No trespassing’ signs on it just like Sesame Hotel; however, an old man sitting at the tennis courts (that looked like they might still be in use) told us that a lot of people went inside, so we figured we couldn’t get into too much trouble. With the issue of trespassing cleared up, we set off down the path from the tennis court up to the hotel entrance and started exploring.
On the first floor that you enter (because of that ramp outside it’s not the ground floor) and the one above you have some big open spaces where the lobby, the restaurant and the kitchen used to be. Because of the open space, with plenty of light coming in from outside ,this part of the building doesn’t feel that creepy. On the entrance floor there is also a series of rooms that look like they used to be private dining rooms. These are more closed-in so the atmosphere is a bit heavier but enough light comes in that I still wouldn’t call it creepy.
The elevators are all stuck between the entrance floor and the one above, the doors have been removed
Some random shots from the private dining rooms on the entrance floor
From the third floor above the entrance and up you have all the guest rooms. It’s pretty repetitive, just long corridors and lots of similar looking rooms. It’s interesting to note that there are some differences in the decor, with different color carpets and different wallpapers. There is also a difference in the amount of vegetation growing in the rooms, the higher you get the more it seems to be. I think it’s interesting to see this kind of stuff, see how the rooms differ, what things are left behind and how much of it is broken. However, the hotel is huge and it got a bit too repetitive even for me so we skipped one or two floors on our way up.
Random images from one of the upper floors
Some more random images from the guest rooms
Even more random shots
Another set of rooms and corridors. Now we are starting to see some vegetation in the rooms
One more batch of photos from various room including an album of postcards, a contact book full of name cards, and an old VHS tape
Eventually we made it up to the roof. I will have to say you get quite a view of the reservoir and surrounding mountains from there. I really don’t feel scared in this kind of place, especially not on a sunny day, but I believe Yini was relieved to be out in the open again.
From the roof we made our way back down to the entrance level. Just for curiosity’s sake I had to check out the two lower floors. It turns out they were dorms for the staff with several rooms and big shared bathrooms. Because we were so low down this part of the building was by far the creepiest.
Just a few of the rooms on the bottom floor
When we got out from the hotel we went to a cafe a few kilometers down the road for some coffee and snacks. We were lucky enough to get seats on the terrace overlooking the lake so we could enjoy the sunset while we drank our coffee. It was a good way to end the day. Like I mentioned at the start of the post we are planning to go explore the other abandoned hotels at Shimen Reservoir. I’m not sure when we will do it, hopefully sooner rather than later, but when we do I will write Part 2 and possibly also Part 3 of this series of posts.