Text and photos by Marbee Shing Go
Rainbow Village in Taiwan’s Taichung County is visited by over a million visitors every year. The artist behind the beautifully painted murals that decorate every structure in the village is known as the ‘Rainbow Grandpa’, a 97-year old retired soldier named Huang Yung Fu who still lives in one of the houses. Every day, Huang Yung Fu gets up at 4am to add more scenes or updates his murals. Rainbow Village is the only spot in this dense area of Taichung that is not a high-rise, and this is because of his art. Nine years ago, the village received a memo from the government asking them to relocate because the land would be sold to developers wanting to turn it into a high-rise. It was then that Huang Yung Fu started painting. What started with a bird illustration inside his house progressed into other characters outside on the walls of his house, then to his neighbors. When it became a village of art, it drew in dozens of visitors and students from the nearby university petitioned the government to save the village. Seeing the potential of the village to draw in visitors from all over the world, the government agreed to let the people stay and to preserve the village in its entirety. Huang Yun Fu’s art saved his home and his village. His story is a testament to the power of art and travel.