In the town of Sanyi in Taiwan’s northwest, there’s this historic bridge that people come from all over to see. If you visit the area, you’ll find plenty of tourists strolling around and taking selfies with it. This bridge is one of the things Sanyi’s known for, and it’s this bridge that often represents this corner of Taiwan on maps showing Taiwan’s famous sites. But it’s not a bridge that connects two places- at least not anymore. What there is is a towering row of brick pylons topped with the beginnings of brick arches. It’s a promising start for a bridge, but each arch breaks off suddenly part way through in a jagged mess of masonry. You have to connect the ends together with your imagination. Meanwhile, vegetation has settled in among the brickwork.
This is the Longteng Broken Bridge, a historic tourist attraction that sets off all kinds of questions. I’ve been curious about the story of this spot for awhile now, and I’ve been fortunate enough to get Sanyi’s Mayor, Hsu Wen-ta, on the line with me this week to sort my questions out one by one.