The impregnable Golden Gate(金门之旅)

Kinmen (金门), the Golden Gate of the East is a small island with only 50,000 residents. Today, over 100,000 Kinmen descendants are residing in southeast Asia. It is rich in its war history and was the place where the last China-Taiwan war was fought. Thanks to American’s intervention (with a serious threat to nuke China if Kinmen is ever invaded), it miraculously survived 2 Chinese invasion attempts and over 500,000 bombardments.

Other than its historic war monuments, Kinmen is also famed for its white spirit (金门高粱酒), knives (金门菜刀) and herbs (一条根). Surprisingly, not many people know how close Kinmen is to China, it takes only 30 minutes on ferry to get across between these 2 countries. Due to the passenger volume, there is a ferry every 30 minutes.

Kinmen is relatively a green and clean island, life on the island is slow and peaceful. Local islanders are extremely warm and friendly, everywhere is peaceful, safe, spacious and quiet. Air is fresh, there is almost no pollutant here. Greenery is aplenty and very well-maintained. Drivers give way to one another and strangers make small talk along the way. The main road is mostly empty and there is no major shopping street or night market. By 9pm, the island sleeps. It reminds me of Australian and New Zealand towns. (Perfect for me as I slept early due to my bad flu.)

It is very tourist-friendly as over 90% of the attractions do not require any entrance fee. At the custom, I saw many tourists from China, mainland Taiwan and Hong Kong.

We stayed at a cozy local B&B hotel where it is named after the owner’s Dalmatian dog, Dingding 叮叮. The owner volunteered to pick us up at the ferry terminal (which was extremely helpful as we have 6 pax and many big luggage). Breakfast were provided daily and they were very tasty. (As Tracy is vegetarian, they went out to buy her breakfast!) Our rooms faced a very small man-made lake which was amazingly clean with fishes and ducks. And broadband was surprisingly fast too!

Getting around Kinmen is easy. There are a lot of yellow cabs around and the bus drivers are friendly to guide us around. Private car rental is at NT500/hour and most attractions are located within 5-10 minutes ride away.

As it was a trip to visit our old house, we didn’t make any pre-holiday planning. We relied on the local’s recommendation and travellers’ reviews on TripAdvisor. Too bad, the weather was wet and we didn’t get to cycle around the island. We visited many free attractions – underground bunkers (dug manually during the war), old traditional residence, Kinmen cultural museum, underground navy base and the original Kinmen Liquor Company (it is cheaper to get the liquor here than at duty free stores at the ferry terminal). At night, we dined at Asia’s largest duty free shopping complex, Everrich Downtown Duty Free.

It was a short relaxing 2D2N trip, the main purpose is to visit our old house. This morning, we left Kinmen and returned to Xiamen to catch our train back to Shenzhen. Leon came to pick us up at the ferry terminal and had lunch with us.

The year end family vacation is coming to an end. Next stop Hong Kong, with my old folks.

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