I left my host family and went on a trip to Kinmen Island, Taiwanese territory just off the coast of China. In 1958, this island was the battleground for a war between Taiwan and China and the remnants of the battle can still be seen. For example, there are a lot of bunkers, 4m-high poles around the island to prevent parachutes from landing, spikes in the water against amphibious vehicles, mines in the water (swimming is prohibited) and even a tunnel that allowed ships to bring supplies from Taiwan.
The food was provided by the SayTaiwan organizers. We ate in traditional restaurants, with a revolving plate in the middle and a range of courses on it, everybody choosing what they wanted. We had 3 such meals during our stay there, each of them being very delicious.
Economically speaking, Kinmen island seems to be well developed. We visited a few businesses and the first thing we noticed was how well they presented and marketed their merchandise. You can see pictures from a knife store. The knives are made out of the 400000 bombs the Chinese threw on the island 53 years ago. The store offers a unique view over a blacksmith’s workplace and you can see him hammering the metal and forging the knife. In other places, we saw the workers making noodles or baking cookies. Also, free samples are offered everywhere (when possible – there were no free knife-samples).
In another museum, we discovered the biodiversity of this island. I really enjoyed the way the museum was build, with a lake around it, offering an awesome view. It had a cinema inside, where we watched a video about some birds. The commentary was unfortunately in Chinese and I only had 3 hours of sleep the night before… also, the chairs were comfy and the AC was on… woke up when the movie finished, drooling on my hand..
During one of our stops, we took some silly photos:
We spent the night at a very nice hotel (first time I get free slippers in the room).
The next day, there was the “ROC Centennial Peace Day” ceremony, 53 years after the end of the war. There were 500 SayTaiwan guests, all in white “I love Taiwan” tshirts, local people, news crews and a lot of special guests, like the president of Taiwan. The event was outdoor, very hot and humid, but thanks to a very ingenious little bandana I received there, filled with a gel that absorbs water, I managed to survive.