Monday, August 27, 2007
City of Photo Ops
previous hike through some of the Qing-era defensive works we had gone on a few years before. Here we follow a stream near the exit for Badu off of Highway 1 to the base of a ridge outside of Keelung.
Jeff's excellent blog entry) the French grabbed the port of Keelung, apparently in an attempt to save the city from its future of Starbucks, Burger King, and casino cruises. The Qing sent 12,000 troops, and along with forces raised locally, surrounded the French soldiers, occupying the high ground around the city. Built in a volcanic caldera, Keelung is almost ideal for such a defense, surrounded as it is on every side by steep ridges. Bottled up in a miniature Gallipoli, the Qing achieved a strategic success over the French, who were unable to take Taipei or seize the coal mines nearby.
As a result, the ridges around Keelung are littered with old forts, observation posts, trenches, and other defensive works, the remains of French, Qing, Japanese, and KMT defensive works, often built one on top of the other. Jeff explained that the larger constructions, including forts the Qing built in the 19th century, were close to the water, and are now lost under the modern city. In this photo the wall of a trench is all but hidden by the undergrowth.
The presence of all that brush is a reminder of how vulnerable these historical sites are. The Keelung city government is sitting on a wonderful tourist attraction -- with some care, nice wooden walkways, some high quality presentation, and the incredible views, this could be a popular tourist outing. I can't decide whether it is better that the works are quietly rotting on the hillsides, undisturbed except by time, or whether they should become just another fake-brick-and-sausage-vendor experience like so many other tourist sites in Taiwan.
(Permalink) 10:14 AM