Kinmen is an island closer to China than to Taiwan (You can see China with the naked eye) but under the control of Taiwan.
For this reason it is heavily militarised although considerably less than before. There are also many landmines on the China facing side. The Taiwanese military build up has been decreasing while the Chinese build up has been increasing.
Analysts now say China may have as many as 2,000 missiles pointing at Taiwan. In the event of any conflict Kinmen may be a frontier- China has before unsuccessfully targeted Kinmen.
A strange kind of ceasefire
One military exchange conflict between China and Taiwan in 1958 lead to a odd agreement where China agreed to a ceasefire where they continued to shell Kinmen but..only on odd numbered days!
That arrangement lasted for two months.
It is also possible to see some Taiwanese propaganda on Kinmen, Such as the characters by Chiang Kai Shek saying return my country.. saying that China should be returned to Taiwan!
I think though Taiwan may have a problem enforcing that wish… There is also the radio station which used to advertise “We have western bread!” and the such to try and convince the Chinese across the straits of the superiority of Taiwan.
In my now vague protestant days I taught at three English camps, two in Kinmen and one in Yangmingshan. I enjoyed each camp as the students were great.
My first camp was particularly wonderful and one of my best experiences ever. The students were all kind and I still hear from many of them today.
A very touching memory was that several students turned up at the airport to wish me goodbye and also gave some gifts. I had left a day later than my American co-workers as I wished to have extra time to explore Kinmen and did not expect their appearance.
I also appeared on the news in the local TV! although I was not happy with my performance, it was a nice experience. I asked why did I come to Kinmen and what do I think of Taiwan etc.
In Kinmen we stayed at a police hostel.
As for the Island of Kinmen outside the hostel we had a few opportunities to explore and one such time I walked by myself to a town where I came across some Fujian style houses. I could only communicate in extremely basic Chinese only to say where I was from to ask permission to take photos of the houses which was kindly granted. On another time with my co-workers we visited an open air museum traditional village again showing traditional Fujian houses and we also went hiking and visited a beach.
Yangminghan was a little different. There were many students and again I enjoyed working with them.
However there probably isn’t usually as many people in the place we went to. The mosquitoes were particularly hungry! Never had I been bitten so many times! And so were many students. The accommodation was of poor quality and the adult foreigners all for various reasons including hygiene left except for myself who stayed. The students and most of the Taiwanese workers were staying there. So I decided to endure it.
The camp at Yangmingshan was to be my last.