Monday, March 2, 2009

The grave of William Hopkins

I spent most of yesterday in Kaohsiung, collecting information for the guidebook and for an article for Travel in Taiwan magazine. In addition to visiting some of the usual tourist haunts, I went to check if one of the city's odder, unofficial relics was still in existence: The tombstone of William Hopkins, an Ulsterman who drowned in 1880 and was buried in the foreigners' cemetery.

The cemetery as such disappeared long ago; it seems the land was occupied by squatters. For some reason, Hopkins' tombstone is still here, right beside a small single-story concrete house. It's a little hard to see because it's down an unmarked lane and sometimes hidden behind clothes put out to dry...

I've no idea if Hopkins' bones are here or not. For that you'd need ground-penetrating radar. Also, the current occupiers may not be eager to know about skeletons a few feet under their floor. If you want to visit the site, the address is 30-7, Lane 60, Dengshan Rd, Xiziwan (高雄市西子灣 登 山 路60巷30-7號). Follow the lane for a short distance until it forks. Take the alleyway on the right (the one that goes slightly uphill); the house is on the right, just a few meters up the alley. Walk past the house and you'll see the tombstone nestled against the wall.

In north Taiwan, Danshui Foreigners Cemetery has been preserved and is open to the public.

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