With COVID-19 under control in Taiwan, many Taiwanese people are ready for a nice, long summer vacation. And with overseas destinations still off the table, they’re flocking to Taiwan’s outlying island chains. One of these island getaways- a former military garrison- may seem like an odd choice for a vacation spot at first. But it’s precisely this military past that attracts so many visitors in the first place.
The Kinmen Islands are Taiwan’s first line of defense against communist Chinese invasion. Through the Cold War, they were closed to outsiders, and even today, they are garrisoned with troops. But they are far from the uninviting sort of place that this description may make them out to be.
One of the islands in particular, Dadan Island, was long a military outpost, and it only opened to tourists a few years ago. These days, it’s welcoming as many as 300 Taiwanese tourists to experience a part of their county’s military heritage.
Visitors experience everything that the soldiers who used to be stationed there did. This includes a tiring four to five hour hike up and downhill- the only way to get around the island. The hike is worth the effort, as there are more than ten tourist attractions to visit along the way.
For lunch, travelers get the ready-to-eat curry meal packs once issued as rations. All you have to do is heat the packets up, rip them open, and pour over white rice for a hearty meal.
The island is a stark, rugged place, but it has its own, windswept kind of beauty that visitors can’t get enough of.