Breaking
Regent Taipei to offer special packages to thank mothers this 2018 Mother’s Day Sowers Action sets fundraising record in Hong Kong’s Charity Golf Tournament — NT$2.6 million for poor children in need of education Cryptojacking tops attack toolkits, signaling massive threat to cyber & personal security Eye On Taiwan Media helps raise funds for Hong Kong’s charity group Sowers Action to aid underprivileged children Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival: Underground artworks to be unveiled during the journey into the golden sands A better way to eat more vegetables at VEGE CREEK Emerging technologies like 5G, blockchain among key themes in COMPUTEX 2018 World’s third largest FASTENER TAIWAN 2018 sets new milestone Sea of white calla lilies at Taipei’s Zhuzihu promises a relaxing stay for visitors Lextar releases state-of-the-art adaptive driving beam LED headlight module system Acer teams up with major hospitals in Taiwan to provide cloud-based remote healthcare services Hip and trendy choices for the foodie souls along Taipei Metro Blue Line Supply chain hub for functional fashion opens to boost textile industry  Le Meridien Taipei to go dark to shine light on climate change with Earth Hour 2018 Taiwan’s own international music festival Looptopia coming this spring break Gov’t to roll out multi-language interpretation service for tourists Taiwan to take part in Hong Kong International Film & TV Market, film festival Don’t miss out on these newest starred Taipei Michelin restaurants World-class dancing fountain show in Bitan, New Taipei City a feast for the eyes 2018 Taipei International Bakery/Equipment Expo to open in Taipei along with three global competitions Greater Taipei’s new “All-Pass Ticket” offers commuters unlimited rides at NT$1,280 per month or NT$42 per day Looking for good food at reasonable prices? Here’s a full list of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand Selection; Taipei star guide available March 14 Apple snails a treat? Migrant workers contract rat lungworm after eating them uncooked Hong Kong’s designer handbag Chic by R&B sets sights on Taiwan as part of its global development strategy Forecast – Low temperatures around Taiwan later this week, warmer weather expected next Monday Late journalist-diplomat Joe Hung remembered as man of erudition and veracity Come and feast on Dominica’s art, food, jewelry all-in-one at Taipei’s Grand Hotel Million-dollar jobs on offer! Taiwan’s major carrier China Airlines recruiting 100 pilots in 2018 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival kicks off in Chiayi — largest ever held in Taiwan TRA launches train ticket plus hotel package to boost Hualien tourism after fatal quake TrendForce: Mobile DRAM revenues hit new high of US$8 billion in 4Q17, but expected to grow slower in 1Q18 due to weaker demand Predicted rising price of toilet paper prompts shopping frenzy A pictorial glimpse of the Taipei Lantern Festival Back to work: What’s the best coffee to energize you? Things to do this weekend: Taipei Lantern Festival to kick off with dazzling lighting ceremony in Ximending Acer ITS’ smart parking meter solution takes home ‘Global ICT Excellence Award– Private Sector Excellence’ Taiwan’s Palace Museum tells us how ancient and modern meet Acer win 12 iF Design Awards in 2018 For a Shanghainese Chinese New Year, look no further from Shanghai Pavilion A yummy guide to Kinmen eateries as told by the nostalgic veterans Global smartphone market to remain weak in 2018: TrendForce Mandarin Oriental, Taipei ranked No 1 among top 10 luxury hotels in Taiwan: TripAdvisor Filipino caregiver among 10 people killed by powerful quake in Hualien Rescuers search for survivors as fresh quake rattles eastern Taiwan; 7 killed and 60 missing so far A walk through Dihua New Year Market Gov’t urged to be tough against people misusing boarding passes Blanket of snow covers Taiwan’s high mountains as cold snap kills 49 in a day Contaminated Malaysian durian coffee mix not imported to Taiwan: FDA Regent Taipei to present Japanese Kakiyasu beef; offer customers unique experience of Wagyu 150 local constestants to compete in 2018 Fishackathon Taipei for global final It’s better to walk briskly than aiming for a daily 10,000 steps: expert AIT co-sponsors 2018 Fu-Jen University Jazz Camp in Kinmen, New Taipei City Taiwan’s global trade competitiveness drops for sixth consecutive year: survey Hotels in Taiwan’s beach resort town Kenting see business downturn despite CNY holiday Stay warm: Weeklong cold snap arrives along with rain Tourism Bureau sees productive year ahead after its efforts to assist local industry Jiji railway line in central Taiwan set to be new tourist hotspot Yuck! Beware of the baked goods mixed with rotten eggs Early arrival of cherry blossoms to greet the Yangmingshan Flower Season in Taipei Must-see and must-eat places in “Lesser Kinmen” Kinmen, a sensory paradise for the tastebuds and the eye Strolling with eyes wide open, Kinmen is rich in aesthetic appeal and historical attractions It is all about AI robots: they can play the roles of sex partners and therapy, or cops to tackle crimes Taiwan axes 176 extra Lunar New Year flights from China, 50,000 passengers may be affected Taiwan’s CAL HQ awarded Diamond-rated green building; saves 23,000 kWh of power in 2017  Food safety makes up half of 2017 top ten consumer news: watchdog (Part 2) Dolores O’Riordan, The Cranberries lead singer, dies at 46 Food safety makes up half of 2017 top ten consumer news: watchdog (Part 1) Early arrival of Laomei Green Rock Troughs Cold snap kills close to 300 in Taiwan, warmer weather forecast Celine Dion to give two concerts in Taipei in July as part of her Live 2018 Asian tour Apple’s iOS 11.2.2 may slow iPhone performance by as much as 50% AIT to hold 2018 Fishackathon in Taipei and Kaohsiung for marine conservation 誠品行旅邀請母親共享「花漾春暉」美好時光 圓山大飯店邀您體驗俄羅斯的絢麗文化及美食 4月20日-29日「2018 俄羅斯美食文化節」登場 樂饗青春時 畢業感恩季 香格里拉台北遠東推出超值謝師宴優惠專案 英皇室哈利王子大婚席捲全球皇室婚禮新風潮 郭元益攜手英國皇室御用唐寧茶推頂級禮盒 「中西混搭」搶市 英國皇室御用茶混搭濃濃台灣味 新人送禮面面俱到

Strolling with eyes wide open, Kinmen is rich in aesthetic appeal and historical attractions

By Stephanie Chao, the Eye on Taiwan staff writer

Kinmen County, the former military fortress of Taiwan and a tiny islet just on the doorsteps of China’s Xiamen, has long known for its battlefield culture and military presence due to its historical role of bitter fighting between the Chinese Communists and the Nationalist forces shortly after the latter withdrew from the mainland in 1949.

Hardly anyone would associate it with a land of aesthetic appeal, rich in ancient Minnan or southern-Fujian-style culture and historical attractions.

IMG_8270edit

A stroll around Gugang Lake

Located in Jincheng Township are two popular attractions — Zhaishan Tunnel (翟山坑道) and Gugang Lake (古崗湖), whose historical values dating back to over 350 years ago are more than meets the eye.

The “Han Ying Yun Geng Inscription” (漢影雲根碣) site is a typical example. The inscription is found in Xiantai Mountain (獻台山), a third-grade national historical site. It was carved by Ming Dynasty’s King Lu (魯王 1644-1622), who retreated to Kinmen after the Manchu conquest of China and established the Qing Dynasty.

While there are different interpretations of what the inscription means, local historian Tung Sen-bao (董森堡) gave the most popular account about it: “On this rock where the sun shines upon, with clouds floating in the blue sky and the surrounding mountains bearing down, this reminds me of home. Like a rootless cloud, I’ve come to this land called Kinmen.”

“Han Ying Yun Geng Inscription” is, in reality, a remake of the original inscription on a huge rock, which collapsed and crumbled into the present form left with only three words: “Han Ying Yun.” The broken rock with the word “Geng” was later used by soldiers as part of the construction materials to build a school.

Though the crumbled rock is not as well-shaped as that of the remake, its historical appeal still arrests the eyes or minds of many visitors.

King Lu (Zhu Zhoujung) was not the only celebrity who found solace there. Zheng Chenggong’s (鄭成功) father-in-law Tung Yangxian (董颺先 1591-1656) also left something for remembrance. He wrote Chinese poems inscribed on a great number of rocks and stones on the Guanzhi Historical Trail. Like the late king, he fled to Kinmen and spent the rest of his time until he died. Most of his poems portray his homesickness, and desire to return to China and to revive the Ming Dynasty.

Somewhere on the historical trail, beside a towering rock engraved with a poem, is a small shelter which Tung Sen-bao said could be the place where Zheng’s father-in-law went for mediation.

IMG_8277 修改

Standing or sitting there as Tung had done in the ancient time, one might understand why he chose that spot as it has a magnificent view overlooking the Gugang Lake and the entire Gugang Village built after his time.

Many of the inscribed stones or rocks were discovered with efforts or by accident over the years. Tung, the historian, suggested that there could be many more of Tung Yangxian’s poems hidden in the forest and vegetation, waiting to be uncovered.

Much effort was carried out to ensure the carved poems would become readable to the public, including careful repainting by professionals of the inscriptions.

Without adequate learning or explanation by tour guides, one might have the faintest ideas of what those inscriptions mean if they come across them.

IMG_8319 edit

Further down the trial in Gugang is something more children-friendly — colored horses that dot along a field. They’re not real; they’re made from wood and painted by locals. The area used to be a shooting practice field for the new recruits but was later abandoned.

Asked why they are wooden horses instead of wooden cattle since Kinmen’s cattle are famous for its texture and taste, Tung said in the early ninth century, an official supervisor for horse herding Chen Yuan  (陳淵) led people to Wuchou (now known as Kinmen) to cultivate the land. Horses had been the main medium to plow the fields at that time. So it is some sort of a tribute to the ancestors who cultivate the land with horses.

The colorful horses have become a popular check-in place on social media. However, many of the wooden horses were damaged after Typhoon Meranti swept through the island last year.

Sipping tea and enjoying the sunset in Oucuo
In Oucuo (歐厝), a village boasting 400 years of history, the lovely Shuntian Western Style House (順天洋樓) (originally named Ouyang Zhongyuan Western Style House) was refurnished last year to become a tea shop.

IMG_8325 edit

Wealthy Kinmenese emigrants to Southeast Asia often returned to their homeland to build such western-style buildings partly to show their wealth and feedback to their hometown and partly to pass them to their descendants. Those buildings often infused western style designs with the local Minnan style.

The owner of the building, Ouyang Zi-yong (歐陽自永) said an ancestor of his clan earned money in Southeast Asia and returned to his hometown to build what would become Kinmen’s “earliest and first” western-style house.

Compared to other western-style houses in Kinmen, it’s more fortified due to frequent pirate harassment in the area. As a result, the ancestor moved the “five-foot way” walkways from the front to the back of the building.

Travelers to Oucuo can enjoy their offering of an assortment of tea, biscuits and “owl-themed accessories,” styled because of the shopowner’s favorite pet bird. If one visits on a clear day, the sunset there is especially warm and beautiful, basking Oucuo’s warm-colored palate in its yellow glow.

edit sunset

Coffee and Traditional Snack DIY in Bishan Village

A tight-knit community transformed Bishan Village (碧山聚落) into one of the colorful and playful villages on the eastern part of Kinmen.

Under the instructions of Bishan’s grandmoms, tourists are able to make their own “Ang ku kuei,” a traditional Minnan (and Hakka) snack made of glutinous rice. Here at Bishan, they used peanut powder mixed with sugar as filling. The yellow snacks are usually used as offerings for worship and festivals.

這個slideshow需要JavaScript。

For those who are interested, they also offer coffee DIY activities, where one can roast and package his or her own coffee beans.

While Kinmen doesn’t grow coffee (at least in abundance), coffee was a symbol of wealth as Kinmenese emigrants from Southeast Asia would bring back coffee beans to share with their families.

Aside from DIY activities, take a tour of Bishan Village, and one will encounter some colorful paintings at Minnan-style buildings, a vibrant mixture of the old and modern.
Two notable buildings are located in this quaint community as well — Rui You School (睿友學校) and Chen Qingji Western Style House (陳清吉洋樓).

這個slideshow需要JavaScript。

Both are examples of Kinmense who managed to accumulate wealth overseas and offer feedback to their hometowns. Chen Ruiyou used his own funds and had a relative build the school to further education for the next generation back home, thus creating a western-style building situated in a community of Minnan-style houses.

The Chen Qingji Western Style House, built by the owner’s namesake, a Kinmenese merchant who found fortune in Singapore, became an iconic spot to visit as it was a filming location in “Paradise in Service,” a Taiwanese film set in Kinmen in the 1960s and 1970 and focused on a military brothel.

When in Kinmen

Do as what the locals do. With that in mind, one should consider staying at a traditional Minnan-style house. More and more tourists are choosing to stay in refurnished Minnan style hostels, which are usually government-certified.

IMG_8414 edit

Zhushan Village’s (珠山聚落) quaint Minnan style hostels are such selections to choose from: “Principal’s Home” (校長的家), for example, which used to serve as a school for local children (hence it’s named.)

The hostel is low-key flamboyant in its usage of Chinese-style decor, which can be picturesque for social media. Probably because of its age, doors, and floors can be rickety and sound from neighboring rooms could be heard in the still night.

IMG_8463 修改

As Kinmen has to ship its trash and recyclables to Kaohsiung, environment-friendly efforts are highly welcomed, especially in hostels such as the “Principal’s Home,” where in support of green-friendly choices, they don’t offer items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, and they only change linens after check-out.

Those who wish to stay in Kinmen’s hostels should remember to bring their own toothbrushes and paste.

To raise environment-friendly awareness, the hostel owner also hosts activities such as making your own leaf-printed reusable bags. Traditional Kinmen breakfast variety (Cantonese porridge, soy milk, and deep-fried Chinese donuts) are also offered.

A stroll around Zhushan Village in the early morning hours is also enlightening, where one can get a glimpse into other Minnan style hostels or local houses.

Eye on Taiwan’s Verdict: 

For history or architecture lovers, these are great places to visit. If you have a good command of Mandarin Chinese (or sometimes, Taiwanese Hokkien), consider making appointments with local tour guides for a deeper understanding of Kinmen’s unique and most comprehensive Minnan culture. While there are English-language explanations for tourist attractions’ introduction signs at most of the sites, most local tour guides can hardly speak English.

As a first-time visitor to Kinmen, going to these places is an enlightening experience. In my observation, I’ve also found and heard that local tour guides are extremely encouraged to use stories to introduce the local culture to tourists. If you love stories, that’s a huge bonus. I know I’m not the only one who can space out during dull, by-the-book tours.

Some people may find their impressions of Taiwan’s outlying islands restricted. For Kinmen, what they traditionally offer are battlefield culture, Kaoliang Spirits (or sorghum) and oysters, but take a walk into the island’s alleys and communities, you’ll be sure to find something charming to appreciate.

::Info::

Gugang Natural Village (Facebook Page) – Mandarin Chinese is currently the only available language for tour guides. Those interested to visit can make appointments via their Facebook page.

Bishan East Company Community Development Association
Phone: 0921560414 (Director Chen)
Au Ku Guei DIY: NT$160 per person for groups of 10 people and more
Coffee Roast DIY: NT$450 per group (for around 3 people)

:: Disclaimer::

This trip is a collaboration with Kinmen County Government and UNI Air. Travel packages are currently available from Jan. 16, 2018. These tour packages are not suitable for Taiwan’s national holidays (2018/2/12-2/23, 2018/4/3-4/9, 2018/6/15-6/19, 2018/9/21-9/25)

There are three travel packages to choose from: 

  1. Secret travel spots and shooting practice in Lieyu 
  2. Oyster picking in Guningtou 
  3. Strolling around Gugang Lake

Packages include round plane tickets, one-night accommodation (can be extended) and a complimentary 24-hour scooter rental; a two-day-one-night package is priced from NT$3,899. For more information, please refer to UNI Air (trip.uniair.com.tw), Ezfly (www.ezfly.com) and travel agencies in Taiwan.

Related articles

柯文哲飆辦公椅 通化公園湧百名粉絲圍觀

為推廣文昌家具街獨有的特色,台北市文昌家具街發展促進會今(21)日於文昌街舉辦「2017樂活台北,競速文昌」系列活動,首度在車水馬龍的文昌街封街舉行辦公椅飆速比賽,2天活動約有2百組以上民眾熱情參與飆速活動。

1 則迴響

LEAVE A REPLY

%d 位部落客按了讚: