Kinmen Island, May 2004
We boarded our tiny little plane at the Taichung airport, and an hour later we landed on Kinmen Island, 2km away from mainland China. We stayed at the King Ring Hotel- a nice place, with helpful people who speak a little bit of English.
I was immediately impressed by the style of buildings on Kinmen Island. The island is known for its old Fukien (Fujian) style houses, but even across the street from our hotel was a nice looking regular apartment building. The buildings in Taiwan are usually ceramic tiled blocks in ugly colors.
The first thing we did on Kinmen Island was hop on our rented scooter and go go go! We thought we'd look at a map and go from place to place, but we soon learned that it was better to just drive around randomly because there was so much to see and we just kept stumbling across interesting sights.
We came across many small Fukien style villages, easily noticed by their saddled roofs and colorful friezes.
Almost every house had beautiful detail like this:
Life goes on in these quiet villages
But we were worried that this guy was dead, because of the strange position he was 'sleeping' in. But after we stood around for a while, he flinched when a fly landed on his nose.
Here's Mark buying a drink at a convenience store.
We walked through village after village. I was surprised at how few people we saw.
I don't know the names of most of the temples and villages we went to because there were so many, but here are a few random pictures I took:
Kinmen island has many southern China birds, and there were so many opportunities for birdwatching- if only the sun wasn't melting us I would have watched for longer.
This is a special place with inscribed rocks:
This is a shrine we visited.
We hiked up a small mountain to see a view all around the island.
We went to the famous kitchen knife shop. We could see the small workplace where they are made, and people can even pick out their own shell from the pile and Mr. Wu will make it for them. He wasn't working that day, so Mark settled on an all-purpose kitchen knife. And yes, that's a big sunburn on Mark's face.
Kinmen Island is a military island, which becomes quite obvious the moment you step off the plane:
There were bunkers all over the island
I even saw soldiers up in this lookout (and that's Mark on the scooter):
We walked through several long underground tunnels with lookouts on to the village streets. This particular tunnel brought us from one end of a village to the other end.
The Kinmen National Park had a lot of army stuff on display.
And I read somewhere that Kinmen Island doesn't have any nice beaches! That person was nuts! I think this is one of the most striking beaches I've seen (though a bit hot, I got blisters on my feet from trying to walk barefoot).
This is another beach, and the problem is that you're not supposed to go swimming because many of the beaches are protected from China's invasion with these cement barricades and, apparently, landmines.
We also went to the famous lookout to mainland China. You can see nearby cities in China, as they are only about 2km away. This was one of the spots where the military spied (and still spies) on China. To enter the lookout, we had to give our identification to the military men on guard.
Here's one of the views of China
Since Kinmen is an island, along with a huge army, it needs to be protected by wind dragon gods. We saw the dragon gods all over the island:
I took many more pictures of this photogenic island, but I was pretty disappointed with most of the pictures I took. That's OK though, because just a weekend away from mainland Taiwan was worth it. Nothing against Taiwan, it's just that you can't get away from that 'Taiwan feeling' anywhere else in Taiwan.