So you like abandoned places? – he asked while helping me to jump over the rusty fence.
– Yes, very much! -I replied jumping on the ground a bit more clumsy than I wished. I knew this guy for only 10 minutes and we were already inside an amusement park in Taipei. Amusement park once upon a time, because nobody used it anymore. It was abandoned. The guy was much taller than me, much older and I found him through a group ?Taipei Explorers?. On Facebook.
He took off his glasses and looked through them under the bright sunlight, checking for any smudges that could eventually obstruct his vision – Yeah… I started doing it once again, after a long break, not that many weeks ago. This country is an urban explorer wet dream – he smiled – and if you’re interested you should definitely check the creepy sanatorium. Losheng – abandoned leprosy sanatorium, to be more precise. I’ve been there a couple of days ago. Eerie… There’s even a heart left floating in a jar full of formaldehyde…
I held my breath, gasped in amazement: – TYSON, THIS IS AMAZING! – I exclaimed – Will you go there with me?
– Naaah, as I said, I’ve been there already. You’ll have to find someone else…or do it on your own.
The seed of curiosity started sprouting in my heart and by the time I came back to the hostel it was already a curiosity-baobab.
Oh, so you made it ? my roommate exclaimed seeing me ? the weird guy from the internet haven’t murdered you and also haven’t taken your kidneys leaving you with a bathtub full of ice?
-Nope ? I smiled back ? what’s more, he told me about an abandoned leprosy sanatorium. And from what I can tell after listening to his stories it’s as creepy as it seems to be.
-Wanna go? I’d soooo join you! – That was Liam.
And just like that, I found a partner in crime I needed so much. You know, to hold my hand while I’ll be squeeing amazed and terrified at the same time, and other girly things.
MANNER SIND SCHWEINE GLAUBE IHNEN NICHT MEIN KIND
Next day, early morning, armed with one red bull and a healthy portion of excitement I headed to the metro station next to the leprosy sanatorium where I was about to meet Liam. But he wasn’t there. He didn’t pick up the phone. Offline on Facebook.
“So he ditched me, oh well…” I thought.
And then a question arose: am I in or out? Should I try to get into the creepy, abandoned leprosy sanatorium all by myself or go back to the hostel and regret it till the end of my life?
I took a deep breath to prevent my stomach from making another flip and I left the station.
Funny thing: I’ve never seen this guy again. I mean Liam. Neither in real life nor on Facebook. No updates, no posts – he just vanished…
My dear Facebook discovery-friend Tyson mentioned that there are 3 ways to get into the creepy leprosarium: two accessible ones located west from the Huilong Station and the third one east from it, with a security guard at the entrance.
I tried the first one: stray dogs ? no good, turned around.
Second one: stray dogs and hobos ? even worse.
“Well, at least I tried.” I mumbled to myself, but then… something made me go and try the 3rd “impossible” entrance on the other side of the MTR. Eventually, when I came that far ? why not?
The eastern side of the station was much cleaner and “civilised” I’d say. No homeless people, no dogs ? I sighed with relief. But then, when I almost reached the top of the hill where my eerie infirmary was located, I saw the very expected obstacle ? a security dude.
Quietly using very juicy language that’s not supposed to be used by a girl, I turned around and was prepared to leave when…
WHAT IF I’D PRETEND I’M AN IDIOT?
I turned back, walked towards the guard and started the show.
Nihao ? I said with a “my-brain-was-eaten-by-a-unicorn-long-time-ago” smile on my face ? pictures?
Standing there, grinning, with my hands raised up to my face simulating holding a camera I probably looked like a retard. But who cares? What’s important, it worked just fine. The guard smiled, nodded and that was enough for me ? taking advantage of a short while when he looked away I jumped into nearby bushes and that was it. So easy! Obviously, he didn’t start looking for me ? maybe he decided I belong to the asylum? But once again ? who cares.
WET AND HAPPY
I raised from the shrubs to head towards the very low fence surrounding the precious goal of my excursion.
Easy-breezy! – I thought, when…
There he was. A dog. He came, he sat right next to my feet and started staring at me.
I moved one step away. He moved as well. I moved ? he moved. And again, and again.
Pretty sure that he was going to start barking the shit down exactly the moment I would start jumping over the fence ? I stood still. Stood still under this glare, when suddenly ? Mister Dog moved. He went through the poles of the fence, turned around once again giving me THAT stare as if he was trying to say “wtf are you waiting for?”. So I waited no more, jumped over the barriers and my new friend trotted behind me grabbing on the way a small rag doll from the pavement.
THE GAME ZONE
Sesame, ouvre-toi. With my heart beating faster than on my first date (centuries ago, because I’m an old fart :v) I entered the abandoned leprosy sanatorium. Empty. Quiet. Just me and the dog. But the Universe decided that it wasn’t fucked up enough. The very first room I walked into was equipped with some big metal closets, autoclaves? Probably autoclaves. But what’s more important is the small gift from the universe I was “blessed” to find inside one of them ? a human heart.
Nicely floating in a jar full of formaldehyde.
Well hello heart, fancy seeing you here!
With a start like that it couldn’t be any boring, could it? I was creeping down the long corridors that reminded me of those from the Dark Meadow ? a lovely game where you wake up in an abandoned asylum. And the resemblance was breathtaking. With every step, my eyes were opening wider and my goosebumps were popping up like mushrooms.
I couldn’t leave. I didn’t want to. The place had this eerie power that even though I was scared to the bone the spirit of Losheng was holding me inside those creepy walls. With my four legged friend, of course, still trotting behind me.
Losheng in Chinese means “Happy Life”. Not sure if when you’re a leper your life is any happy but that’s what Losheng Sanatorium stood for. It was built by the Japanese in 1929 on a side of a hill as a big and self-sufficient complex for people suffering from leprosy. Both location and comprehensive equipment were about to help the residents of losheng sanatorium stay separated from the rest of the society.
But in the 50’s leprosy wasn’t considered to be such a dangerous and contagious disease. New ways of treatment were found and Losheng lepers were allowed to go back and live with the rest of the society. But, the stigma connected with this disease made them stay. Stay in the environment that was familiar and convenient. In the 90’s the management of MTR decided to expand Huilong metro station, which implicated getting rid of the Losheng Sanatorium. Patients were moved to the new hospital nearby, and the asylum was left behind with all its treasures: books, pictures, guts floating in jars… LOVELY.
THE BIG ESCAPE
So there I was: in picturesque circumstances, surrounded by numerous crazy artefacts. Every room was a different story, every half opened drawer a new discovery. Immersed in the creepiness and awesomeness of the situation I reached one of the last rooms: a surgery room. Fully equipped, with lamps and bed and all the tools lying around as if doctors left just yesterday.
And then I heard it: a creepy midi piano sound. It was thin like a whisper, coming somewhere from inside the building and creeping on my back, making my skin crawl. I turned around rapidly almost losing my balance.
The dog was gone. I was on my own in the abandoned leprosy sanatorium and the childish-scary piano song was slowly getting louder.
I started running so fast I barely lost my shoes. Leper Cinderella, how fun would that be? When I reached the fence I saw the ragdoll previously held by the dog ? it was lying on the ground exactly in the place where we ? and by we I mean me and my four legged friend ? entered the building. I jumped over the barriers and continued on running till I reached the MRT station.
I leant back against the wall to catch my breath and…started laughing. Almost hysterically. “I’ve made it!” I was sooooo proud.
And then a next thought appeared: who was playing this piano? And why did the dog leave his rag-toy exactly at the exit? Was the dog really there or maybe it was my pure imagination?
ONE YEAR LATER
I came back. Of course ? I had to. This place became my dream, my obsession ? I simply needed to go there once again. And I did. Four times.
Unfortunately, the MTR construction workers already entered the site. Many things were removed. On my last, fourth visit I saw them demolishing the fence ? that’s the end, my dear Losheng Sanatorium. But before that happened I managed to film some footage, so very soon, you’ll be able to take a walk down the eerie corridors of Losheng Leprosy Sanatorium, that no longer exist.