In a swampy area of the southern city of Tainan, not far from the coast, is a piece of the 19th century. Separated by a river from the wetlands of Taijiang National Park is the former Tainan headquarters of Tait & Co., a British merchant house that helped jump-start Taiwan’s early tea industry. The headquarters itself is a breezy, white two-story building with an arched veranda facade. Inside there are historical displays about local history and the company’s role in it. But for many people, the main attraction here is out back in what would have the least interesting part of the whole complex.
Empty storage rooms aren’t usually a big draw for tourists, but for many years now, the former Tait & Co. storeroom has been slowly filled up with something worth seeing- a gigantic tree. In a matter of decades, this single tree has swallowed up doorways, punched through masonry, and filled the space above the long-gone roof with its tendrils and branches. Welcome to the Anping Tree House, a building that houses a tree. What’s going on here? Joining us to fill us in is local historical expert Li Ching-shan.