Notes from a Fishing Village Residency
By HOM ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver
Dec 17, 2021

Before I had the chance to visit the Zhengbin Fishing Harbor, I was quite unfamiliar with Keelung and like most people I just held the preconceived notion that it was an “overcast, rainy mountain town”. When I came here in mid-May, I left Keelung Station and saw several black kites circling overhead in the gloomy gray sky which matched the image of the place in my mind. The misty, overcast sky continued for about a week and then the weather gradually turned, becoming more summery as the sky over the harbor steadily turned to blue. The veil of my initial impression of Keelung lifted and the harbor’s beautiful scenery appeared before me.

During the month I lived in the village, I often walked to the harbor. It was a small, secluded space where fishermen gathered. I quietly looked out at the dark green sea and followed the path beside the harbor before coming to the colorful buildings now known as the “Rainbow Houses”. I frowned, I didn’t really like bright colors. Later when I searched online, I found some old photos of the harbor and saw that the Rainbow Houses had previously been a row of buildings that alternated between white and light blue in a way that was simple but elegant. As well as feeling it was a shame, I began to use my own perception of beauty to size up these heavily-painted buildings. Pretty much every day, there were tourists who came to the Rainbow Houses specifically to take photos and you could even see newlyweds doing wedding photoshoots. Clearly the Rainbow Houses were a powerful form of publicity and had already become important to the local area.



As I passed the Rainbow Houses every day, I looked at them from the same angle as all the tourists taking photos. The colors reflected on the water and the light of the sky varied at different times of the day, together they magically transformed the surface of the water and every day I took lots of photos of the harbor. The sky, whether it was blue, violet, pink, or gray, embellished the colors of the Rainbow Houses and made them feel even more fleeting and ever-changing. I don’t know when it started but my gaze gradually became drawn to them.

 After carefully thinking it through, I realized it didn’t have anything to do with the colors of the houses but rather that the history and geography of Zhengbin Fishing Harbor were what gave the place its charming retro appearance and made the scenery what it is today.

This residency has given me the chance to get to know more places in Taiwan. Thank you very much to the team at Zhengbin Art for inviting me to the residency, it gave me plenty of time to discover so much of the fascinating scenery that Zhengbin Fishing Harbor has to offer.   



Read more:
- HOM: https://booksfromtaiwan.tw/authors_info.php?id=151
- Watching the Sea: https://booksfromtaiwan.tw/books_info.php?id=377