When I think Miaoli I think dingy little streets, run-down grey ghettos and all manner of “anything goes”. Not of all the county embodies this but, although perhaps a tad harsh, I do think it’s a reasonably accurate summation of Miaoli’s architectural standards (not withstanding the general commonality throughout Taiwan).

With that in mind, it was hardly the place I expected to find one of the most lavish looking abodes I’ve seen in Taiwan yet.

Randomly exploring on the bicycles, we stumbled across the house from the north. Situated on the outskirts of Jhunan Township, it was the great big net they’d erected in the backyard that first caught my attention:

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Having a backyard was luxury enough, but a netted private sports facility?

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To keep plebs like us out the owners had erected giant walls all around the property, so alas I wasn’t able to confirm what the net was covering.

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I’m 6ft1″ but even jumping I was unable to see what was on the other side. If I had to guess though I’d say it looks a bit too narrow for a tennis court, so I’d probably go with a driving range (golf). I did think about badminton but I think a net would be overkill for that, what with a shuttlecock’s lack of rollability.

Rounding the street corner revealed that subtlety clearly wasn’t one of the owner’s strong points:

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My first impression was that we were looking at some sort of cult den. For the most part, this was due to the designs used to decorate the front gate and house itself:

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With an intercom system out front (and no less than three security cameras pointed at us), the girlfriend suggested we press the buzzer and ask, if not just a simple home, what this building was.

I’ve long accepted my nosiness in such matter will get me into sticky situations, but I wasn’t about to go intruding that far into people’s lives. As extravagantly overt as the premises was, I figured they still deserved their privacy.

As we stood outfront discussing what the building could be (an improv coffee break), no less than ten minutes passed though before the gates unceremoniously rumbled open and an old lady and security guard trotted out.

They demanded to know what we were doing, so we told them we were admiring the design of the building.

In response they told us to clear off, so we did.

The thought did cross my mind to inquire further into what motivated them to erect a veritable castle among the rice paddies and ramshackle farmer hovels surrounding the building… but I wasn’t ready to disappear into the night just yet.

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And so, there ends the tale of the mysterious lavish house of Miaoli. Cult fortress, gangster’s paradise or just a gaudy retirement home for an elderly couple to spend out their days? Who knows…