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Why I Keep Coming Back To Kinmen

I came back to Kinmen for a reason.

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Kinmen island is a version of paradise. 

What I mean by this is that it’s the kind of place that a certain swath of people envision when they close their eyes and think of the place they’re longing to escape to. 

It’s a Sinologist’s fantasy: a hidden dot of China virtually frozen in time by a protracted military conflict. The place was under martial law until the 90s, and for decades few people other than soldiers would come in — the outside world kept firmly at bay. Though hardly 3 kilometers away, it wasn’t until a handful of years ago that the border opened up to mainland China. 

Kinmen is full of homes and shops of various types and styles, a menagerie of influences from old Minnan culture, colonial SE Asia, Japan, and the modern concrete era. This kaleidoscope of architecture is arrayed in traditional villages and along the streets of small cities. 

I rented out a courtyard home here for $199 per month. There is a stone gate in front enclosing a good sized patio and in front of that is a small playground. 

My seven year old daughter can just yell that she is going out and go. She can run around the village on her own, embarking on little adventures with the local kids or just going out to swing for a while by herself. She’s never had this much personal liberty before. Usually, she’s caged up in some high-rise, a hotel room, or Bangor, ME — a place which could be rather accurately described as a white ghetto. I like the fact that my kid has a little more room to roam — as I had as a kid growing up in the countryside of Western New York.

Like all proper paradises, landing on Kinmen comes as a relief — like a colossal exhalation, that proverbial weight being lifted. A smile comes over your face as you walk through the ferry port or airport because you know that you just stepped into a realm that is still somewhat insulted from the outside world — insulated from the outside world in a good way. You can settle in here and just forget that everywhere else exists.

That’s the definition of a paradise, isn’t it?

This is my forth or fifth time here. I keep coming back for a reason. 


Filed under: Kinmen, Taiwan, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

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