Maestro Wu 2011 Trip – Bombshells, Knives, Food and Kao-Liang Liquor – Part 2

This is a continuation of my February 2011 trip to Kin-Men to visit Maestro Wu, the maker of the Maestro Wu bombshell steel knives. You can read Part 1 here.

It was a simple concrete structure resembling a mix between a small trailer and a small shipping container. The doors were closed and chained and Marc and I joked that it was the outhouse or the locker room. We asked Maestro Wu what it was, and he replied it was an entrance to the civilian underground tunnels/bunkers. The mood changed from joking to a keen interest in seeing more – after all, these were the tunnels that Maestro Wu literally spent every other day of his childhood in as the propaganda shells from China were shot across the water from after the bombing in 1958 until 1979.


Kin-Men Bunker 1

Kin-Men Civilian Bomb Shelter/Tunnel

I had heard about the tunnels and shelters, but imagined them to be more carved out of mountain rather than a rather conspicuous entrance like this…

We walked downhill a bit and rounded a corner of the village, and came to another abandoned home. Maestro Wu said this was another entry to the same tunnel we had seen earlier. We carefully made our way to the entry and took a picture. Maestro Wu insisted that we didn’t go down. We had no flashlight, and were wearing the wrong shoes anyway. But man am I keen to get back there and take a walk down those steps and look around!


Kin-Men Tunnel 2

Tunnel entry- concrete on the right

Tunnel Entry

Stairs to the tunnel

We got back into the car and made our way a little further into the center of the village, where there was a elementary school with beautiful courtyard just outside its windows with what looked like a medieval tower (school is behind me in the picture).


Interesting architecture…

Then we came to the other end of the tunnel that had started this little adventure. This was open, but there was an accumulation of water that actually had small goldfish swimming in it! (I imagine from the school kids) We definitely didn’t have the right shoes in order to look inside.


Other End of the Tunnel

Other end of the Tunnel

In part 1, I had asked Maestro Wu the previous night about the need for military now that things had eased diplomatically between China and Taiwan, and he had replied to my question very strongly that Kin-Men was still under threat of attack, despite the tourism. As we stood around in the light rain having gone from head to foot of one of many tunnel systems on the island, Maestro Wu started telling a story of how when he was a young man, he was enlisted in what was the “civilian defense” forces. Basically it was made up of the able-bodied, non-military male residents of the island. They had a drill where smoke grenades were supposed to be used, but somehow, the grenades got mixed up with tear gas and they gas masks they had weren’t up to par for the exercise. The doors at the exits had been sealed (since it was assumed for the drill that enemy forces had landed on the island, and were trying to root out people from the tunnels), and there was no immediate way out. Maestro Wu talked about the gas choking him to the point where he could hardly inhale at all, his eyes were completely stinging and teared up to where he could not see a thing, there was no light and real way to get out of the tunnel until the gas stopped. They were crawling as best they could, blind and barely able to breathe towards blocked off doors.

Luckily it was only a drill, but it was clear from his retelling of the story, he was reliving every single moment of it. It clicked into place for the first time that there really was a very serious threat to the residents of Kin-Men, and the lives they lived were under constant threat of attack for 21 long years. That kind of mindset doesn’t disappear with the allowing of  Chinese tourism by governments completely void of family ties to the island.

While I don’t mean to get involved with politics here, I must say I was actually happy that Maestro Wu wasn’t selling out that easily to the tune of cross-straight relations, Chinese tourism and the benefits it has brought to the island. I see the current success and revival of the island as long overdue payback of life owed to at least 2 generations of Kin-Men residents.

Afterward, we piled back in the car and went to a real bomb shelter – for the military. This was JhiaShan tunnel – a covered harbor literally carved out within a mountain in the shape of a “U”. It was used by light troop transporting ships to bring supplies and troops from US and Taiwanese Naval ships standing off the island. It’s more of a national park-like setting now, with displays of the boats, some anti-aircraft guns. Bicycles are provided free of charge, and there is a coffee shop. The tunnel is free of charge and open to the public. The harbor area has mood lighting now, but I was in awe of the sheer size of this project, and I could just imagine what it was like when it was in service. It’s the stuff of war movies.


Jhia Shan Tunnel 1
Jhia Shan Tunnel
Jhia Shan Tunnel 2
Jhia Shan Tunnel 2
Jhia Shan Tunnel 3
Jhia Shan Tunnel 3
Jhia Shan Tunnel 4
Jhia Shan Tunnel 4
Jhia Shan Tunnel 5
Jhia Shan Tunnel 5
Jhia Shan Tunnel 6
Jhia Shan Tunnel 6
Jhia Shan Tunnel 7
Jhia Shan Tunnel 7
Jhia Shan Tunnel 8
Jhia Shan Tunnel 8
Jhia Shan Tunnel 9
Jhia Shan Tunnel 9

After the tunnel, it was getting time close to the time to leave. We headed back to Maestro Wu’s shop and picked up our boxes of knives and headed to the airport. It was an extremely successful and fulfilling trip, and although we were freezing our bums off most of the time, I am really glad we went when we did.

As we arrived at the airport, Maestro WU and his wife handed Marc and my wife and I a bag, and wished us a safe flight.

Once we checked in, we took a look in the bags. Inside each bag was a bottle of Kao-Liang Liquor – 18 Year old. 😀





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One Response to “Maestro Wu 2011 Trip – Bombshells, Knives, Food and Kao-Liang Liquor – Part 2”

  1. Maestro Wu 2011 Trip – Bombshells, Knives, Food and Kao-Liang Liquor – Part 1 « Jende Industries Blog Says:

    […] 2: click here! Serving up the hottest dishes on Featured on FoodPress Banana […]

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