The best unexpected surprise of my travels this year was Kinmen Island. Having lived in Taiwan before Kinmen was one place I always wanted to visit but the distance from mainland Taiwan made it somewhat difficult. A fellow Tainan blogger – Hanjie – wrote a post in 2011 that inspired me to try and make it happen this year, so I took a golden opportunity of a Spring Airlines 1US$ flight from HK to Xiamen and then a ferry from Xiamen to Kinmen, making this one of the cheapest getaways I ever did. Awaiting for me in Kinmen was yet another wonderful unexpected surprise – a City God festival with an attempt at breaking the Guinness world record for longest Daoist temple parade in history. Celebrations were taking place all over the island, and together with the gorgeous Fujianese architecture, the intense China – Taiwan cold war history and the wonderful local Taiwan island life, I was in utter bliss. I could not have wished for a better trip.
I started off based in Jincheng Town. On my first night there there was a ghost clearing festival to prepare the streets for the parade to take place later that week. Jincheng is filled with local temples, historical houses, terrific little restaurants & pubs/bars, as well as a number of great war related museums :
- Kinmen Civil Defense Tunnel Exhibition Museum : Jincheng Town
- Ghost Clearing Festival : Jincheng Town Kinmen Island
- Around Jincheng Town : Kinmen Island
- Jincheng City God Festival Temple Madness : Jinmen Island
For my travels around Kinmen I rented a motorcycle with an international drivers license for 400NT$/day, ridiculous money. I set off to the northwest, northeast, coming back from the south all the way back through the southwest and then back to Jincheng town.
Southwest Kinmen – South to Jincheng Town
Not too far away south of Jincheng are a number of little attractions, and the ride is charming and pleasant. You can see war tunnels, old Fujianese villages (where you can stay overnight), and a number of lakes, towers and a brewery.
- Jhaishan War Tunnels : Kinmen Island
- OuCuo & Piano Piano : Kinmen Island
- Jyuguang Tower & Gugang lake : Jincheng – Kinmen Island
Northwest Kinmen – North to Jincheng Town
To explore the history of the cold war between Taiwan-China head north to see how the Taiwanese island prepared and waited for the Chinese invasion that never came. The war history will show you a video and walk you through the details of the conflict and the wars that took place between the Communists and the Nationalists in their fight over China. The peace memorial part will tell you a bit more about how the island evolved through time as a military base for the Guomingdang up to what it is today. Throughout the northwest are lovely Fujianese style villages.
- Guning War History Museum : Kinmen Island
- Ci Lake & Triangle Fort : Kinmen Island
- Peace Memorial Park : Kinmen Island
- Nan Shan and Bei Shan : Kinmen Islands
Northeast Jinmen Island
Northweastern Kinmen was my first glimpse at the temple celebrations in Shaobei, and where the beauty of Fujianese architecture really came alive in the Shanhou folk culture village. Also there are mountain fortifications and a number of war related memorials.
- City God Birthday Festival : Jinsha Shaobei – Kinmen Island
- Lion Mountain Howitzer Park & Museum : Kinmen Island
- A Random Taiwanese Buddhist Garden : Kinmen Island
- Shanhou Folk Culture Village : Kinmen Island – Taiwan
Southeast Jinmen Island
Army bases and Fujianese villages make up most of the southeast Jinmen. Just briefly rode through this part, but still lingered a bit in the following.
Overall I spent 3 nights and 4 days. Seen wonderful things, met some really interesting people, had delicious food… it was an adventure to remember.