Kinmen One Day Tour
Photo taken at Jhaishan Tunnel
Kinmen or Quemoy is a small island opposite to Xiamen of Fujian Province, China. On last October, 2014, my wife and I paid a short visit to this tiny island. We joined a one day tour to the island and visited several scenic spots of historical coverage.
Kinmen caught the global attention and wide news coverage during the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crises in 1954-1955 and 1958 when PLA(People’s Liberation Army of PRC) extensively shelled the tiny island. It also became a major issue in the 1960 US Presidential Election between the candidates of John F.Kennedy (1917-1963)and Richard M.Nixon(1913-1994).In 1950s, US ever threatened to use nuclear weapons against the PRC if it attacked the .
Indeed I did try to visit the island in 2001 during my first visit to Xiamen. At that time , there was a big confrontation between PRC AND ROC. During my second visit to Xiamen in 2008 , I again failed to visit Kinmen because the so called “Mini-Three- Link”( 小三通)was not finalised yet. Last year I applied for a Multi-Travel China Visa so that I was able to visit Kinmen via Xiamen.
Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor
Upon arrival, I found that Kinmen is a very small archipelago consisted of a few tiny islands including Great Kinmen(大金门),Lesser Kinmen(小金门),and some islets. The area of Kinmen is merely 59 square miles, geographically it is very close to Xiamen (about 1.2 miles).
Owing to the long time military confrontation between PRC and ROC, there are interesting slogans at both sides of Kinmen and Xiamen. "Three Principles of the People unite China"(三民主义统一中国), written in Traditional Chinese, used by ROC and “A Country with Two Syuatem unite China”( 一国两制统一中国) written in Simplified Chinese, used by PRC for its propaganda.
Historically, unlike Taiwan(台湾)and Penghu(澎湖)had been ceded to Japan in 1895 under the Treaty of Shimonoseki(馬关條约), Kinmen was not included in the cessation. After the establishment of the ROC in 1912, Kinmen became part of Fujian Province(福建省). However, Japan did occupy the island during the Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945. Since PRC took over the mainland China, Kinmen was claimed by the both ROC and PRC.
Since the opening of the Kinmen-Xiamen travel, Kinmen has experienced a considerable economic boom and many Taiwanese business men use the island as step stone to enter the vast markets of the Mainland China. In the meantime, tourists from Mainland China could easily travel to and fro from Xiamen.
Kinmen is famous for a number of local products, namely Kinmen Artillery Shell Knives(金门鋼刀), Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor(金门高梁酒), Kinmen Noodles (金門麵線), Gongtang (貢糖) and Beef Jerky (牛肉乾). The high-quality knives are made by millions of bomb shells and exploded ordnance fired by the PLA of PRC during the military confrontation.
Kinmen often import more goods from Mainland China than Taiwan Island because of lower costs due to the proximity of the county to the mainland despite a bit lower quality.
The popular local folklores are Wind Chicken(风鳮)and Wind-Lion God(風獅爺),both are the traditional beliefs and customs relating to Chinese Fengshui(风水).
No doubt, Kinmen's economy is mainly based on tourism and services due to its proximity to the Mainland China. The year 2014 recorded the highest number of passengers traveling by ferry between Kinmen and Xiamen for as many as 1.5 million people.
Kinmen is known for its quiet villages, old-style architecture and beaches. Large parts of Kinmen form the Kinmen National Park which highlights military fortifications and structures, historical dwellings and natural scenery. While in Kinmen, my wife and I visited the following tourist destinations:
The Juguang Tower
This is the famous landmark in Kinmen. Usually it becomes the first place for visitors. The Tower was built in 1952 with a traditional Chinese style 3-story attic structure with two cannons in front of the Tower, symbolizing the turbulent years of the Battles in Kinmen. Inside the Tower are exhibition halls displaying documents and materials concerning the history, folklores and folkways of Kinmen.
Inside Jhaishan Tunnel
Jhaishan Tunnel is located in the outskirt of the southeast Gugang Village,Gugang Lake. The main purpose of its construction was to provide a supply service by using small boats during the war period. Upon arrival, I was shocked to see such a huge man-made tunnel. Visitors can imagine how difficulty it was for construction.
During the time of military control, it was a key strategic location for army and served as a transportation hub for both land and sea. The construction work started in 1961 and completed in 1966. The main part of the tunnel is made by solid granite and the second half is a waterway leading to the open sea. There are seven rooms inside that serve as barracks. The tunnel features an A-shaped waterway with 357 meters in length, 11.5 meters in width and 8 meters in height. It was used to conceal small boats. My wife and I walked very carefully and slowly inside the spooky tunnel.
Kinmen Shuitou Ancient Village
3. Kinmen Shuitou Ancient Village (金门水头古厝群)
There are a cluster of old houses at Shuitou Village. These houses were built by overseas Chinese originated from Kinmen , mostly in the late of 19th and early 20 centuries. The Deyue Mansion(得月楼), a 4-story gun tower was built in 1931 by the Huang Clan(黄氏家族), is the tallest building in the village.
Upon arrival, I saw these houses were very well preserved. It was built both Chinese and western style. Today some of these houses are occupied by the descendants of their original owners. A few of them are open to visitors.We spent about one hour here.