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'Old man and house' pique curiosity in eastern Taiwan

2015/05/30 20:05:49

Taipei, May 30 (CNA) A mysterious old man who maintains an old house furnished with abandoned materials and painted pure white, has stirred interest in eastern Taiwan's Taitung County.

The man, surnamed Lee and possibly in his 80s, has been collecting waste wood, bricks and glass to refurbish the house over the past 30 years, according to local people.

Opinions differ as to what kind of person Lee is and what kind of house he is keeping because Lee, who is hearing-impaired and inarticulate, has never revealed his story.

Standing distinctively on an empty plot of land covering thousands of square meters, however, the house has recently become a tourist attraction.

Juan Wei-ming (阮偉明), an architect who is keeping a record of Lee and his house, said Lee was among those who withdrew with the Kuomintang army to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War.

Lee used to serve in the military in southern Taiwan's Tainan and raised six children, Juan said, explaining that he has been invited into the house.

Juan said Lee told him that he spent NT$2 million (US$64,900) to buy the house in 1950, which Juan doubted, nevertheless.

There are four floors in the house, although it is hard to tell from the outside, Juan said, adding that Lee lives on the second floor and saves the third floor for growing vegetables.

Chen Chia-hsin (陳嘉信), one of Lee's neighbors who walks by the house every day, said it was originally a military checkpoint.

Lee is a retired soldier, who was left to guard the house, according to Chen.

Regardless of the different versions of Lee's story, what is for sure is that Lee's house continues to grow.

"He has been building this house all his life," said a woman who sells vegetables nearby.

(By Tyson Lu and Lee Hsin-Yin)