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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrKinmen County consists of a group of islands and islets called Jinmen (“Golden Gate” in Mandarin Chinese) or Kimmui (in Hokkien language). Rather than call it a ‘gate’, it would be more appropriate to call Jinmen a ‘buffer zone’ or a ‘military reserve’. Its geographic position in the strait between China and Taiwan, like the neighboring Matsu Islands , made Kinmen an unfortunate place to live in for many many years. Locals will tell you about the time when they had early curfew, were not allowed to communicate with their relatives on either side (China or Taiwan), and lived in complete isolation from the outside world.
In the mid-90s, the island was returned to the civilian government of the Republic of China, and early 2000s saw its opening for Mainland China as well. The tourist industry is developing slowly but steadily, much to the pleasure of the local people.
What to SeeRemains of the indigenous cultures similar to those of Ruykyu in Okinawa Island, Kinmen is famous for its adorable guardian Wind Lions, shisa (風獅爺). There are about 100 of them all situated all over the island, at the entrance to every village, and you can spend a few days exploring all the sites one by one. Or you can simply go and visit the Wind Lion Cultural Museum by the airport which stores the replicas of all the statues from the island. Wind Lions come in different shapes, colors, and genders: you can always tell by their hypertrophied sex organs.
Heritage of the World War II and conflict times between Mainland China and Taiwan, Kinmen is famous for its knives. For several generations, local people have been making knives out of artillery shells, as they used to fall from the sky in Kinmen more frequently than rain.
- Juguang Tower (莒光樓), near Jincheng , hosts a museum where you can learn about the ancient and modern history of the islands.
- August 23 Artillery Battle Museum (八二三戰史館), in Junhu, commemorates the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis.
- Gugang Lake and Pavilion (古崗湖), built in 1964, are one of the favorite destinations for Taiwanese tourists on the island.
- Guningtou War Museum (古寧頭戰史館) in Jinning is dedicated to yet another war period between People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, exhibiting vast amount of military equipment, photographs, and paintings.
- Hujingtou Battle Museum (湖井頭戰史館) in Lieyu also has a collection of wartime artifacts.
- Jhaishan Tunnel (翟山坑道) in Jincheng was constructed in the 60s and used as a military and naval facility.
- Kinmen Folk Culture Village (金門民俗文化村) in Jinsha will give you a glimpse into the traditional culture of the islands.
The military headquarters of the Qing Dynasty (清金門鎮總兵署) – a building originally constructed as a scholars retreat, then used as Government Office, police headquarters and many other things, has some really big trees growing right behind it.
Maoshan Pagoda (茅山塔) was built by the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century along with a couple of other pagodas to keep the island safe from pirates.
Wentai Pagoda (文臺寶塔), also built in the end of 14th century, served as a lighthouse for nighttime navigation at sea.
Eat and DrinkKaoliang liquor, made out of fermented sorghum (38 to 63% of alcohol), is one of the main articles of export for Kinmen.
Other remarkable culinary delights include Kinmen noodles (金門麵線) and dried beef (牛肉乾), available on local evening markets and restaurants.
There is an Irish pub called White Lion on Kinmen, located in the Jincheng historical city. Owned by a lovely Canadian-Taiwanese couple, it is proudly the only venue on the island that stays open until midnight. Although the times of military curfew on Kinmen are long gone, most of the locals still cannot fully grasp the concept of ’nightlife’.
Getting ThereFrom Taiwan, you can only fly to Kinmen Airport. There are several flights a day connecting it with Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, and Penghu Islands.
Xiamen, in Mainland China, is just a short ferry ride away. There are several ferries every day, but in monsoon season, always keep the weather conditions in mind.
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Author: wilhelminamurray. Last updated: Sep 22, 2014