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KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) — Arts exhibitions come and go to Taiwan, usually with very little fanfare.
However, occasionally, something captures the public imagination. And when that happens, the Taiwanese cannot get enough of it.
That is certainly the case with the “Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian Art” exhibition, which opened at the Tainan Art Museum last month.
Given the theme already syncs nicely with the content of many popular movies, TV shows, and video games that young people enjoy, the museum probably already knew it was onto a winner. However, when a Christian church based in Hsinchu complained about the exhibition, the ensuing publicity ensured they had a hit on their hands.
The show has attracted huge crowds ever since it opened, with people traveling from across the country and some even making the pilgrimage via bicycle from Kaohsiung. This is an arduous 50-kilometer ride even without the tempestuous weather we have had these past few weeks.
Tainan Art Museum has had some fun with visitors, reminding them not to bring glutinous rice or a wooden sword to the exhibition as these items are, according to the Hong Kong horror film "Mr. Vampire," terrifying for ghosts.
With Ghost Month fast approaching, many are still keen to give the exhibition a visit, but if you are traveling to Tainan from further afield, what other spooky spectacles are there to entertain you?
Taiwan News has already profiled Madou Daitian Temple (麻豆代天府), which has sought to capitalize on the exhibitions' success with its own similar display based on the Taoist 18 Levels of Hell. But they are not alone.
You could also visit the Xiaolong Cultural Park in Jiali, Tainan (位於台南佳里的蕭壠文化園區). This park is on the site of an old sugar refinery and has some pretty spooky areas of its own.
The Jiali exhibition provides an alternative for those who might be a bit too spooked by the zombie mayhem descending on Tainan by offering free spiritual support to anyone who might be a bit too frightened by the horrors of the exhibition and may need some spiritual guidance or even a mild exorcism.
They have taken to social media to advertise their own in-house exorcism team and urge zombie fans to pay a visit after going to the exhibition. The idea has really taken off on social media and, even if you are not feeling in need of a positive spiritual boost, the park is fun to explore.
That may well be enough to fill your day, but if you have time for one more stop, why not make it a building that many have dubbed the "most haunted in Taiwan."
The Xinglin Hospital (杏林綜合醫院) opened in 1975 but closed in 1993 amid various scandals, both administrative and medical.
The building has lain empty ever since, with beds, medical supplies, and personal items still strewn around the premises, although much has now been purloined. It is also believed by many to be packed with ghosts of the patients whose lives came to an (allegedly) premature end on the wards here.
It is possible to wander around the building, and you can even take a look in the basement morgue. In the evening, you may find younger people exploring as part of a dare to prove their bravery, seeking to convince their peers that they are not afraid of ghosts.
The hospital is also popular with photographers who like to capture provocative and scary scenes on the operating tables, often using animal blood. So, if you do see blood stains around, rest assured, that’s probably what it is.
Of course, Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan, and plenty of its more mainstream tourist attractions, such as Anping Old Fort, or Ford Zeelandia as it is sometimes known, and Chikan Tower have their own bloody stories to tell. Don’t rule out spotting a ghost or two here as well.
If spooky sightseeing is your thing, Tainan really is the place to go right now. And there is plenty to enjoy outside the superb zombie exhibition too.
Updated : 2022-09-17 08:37 GMT+08:00
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