Sunday, 7 September 2008


My parents went on their maiden trip to Kinmen, Taiwan, my paternal grandfather's homeland. My grandfather passed away in his homeland about 30 years ago when he went back for a visit. He suffered a heart attack there. My father has not been to Kinmen, so this trip was to pay respect to my grandfather's grave. They also visited our relatives there, viewed my grandfather family's properties there, which included some plots of land, row of shophouses as well as a few houses. The place is a safe and closely-knitted and the air was fresh. Many people or neighbours knew who my grandfather was, and even recognised my father (because he looked so much like my grandfather). According to my father, he said the government there takes care of those senior citizens who are above 65, and they get a monthly pension of Taiwan $6700, which was our equivalent of S$300. Hence there is no beggar in Kinmen.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a small island with a very big reputation. Situated just off the coast of Mainland China, Kinmen has been regarded as hallowed- almost sacred- ground by the people and government of the Republic of China. Until recently closed to outside visitors because of its status as an island fortress guarding against a continuing communist threat, Kinmen has recently been opened to tourism. The craggy island is made up primarily of granite, which at the highest point- Mt. Taiwu- rises 253 meters above sea level. This hill is the source of numerous streams that flow into reservoirs that supply water for the local population and beautify the landscape as well. Walls and moats were first constructed on the island as a defense against pirates and Japanese invaders in 1387, during the reign of Emperor Taitsu of the Ming dynasty. This earned Kinmen the name, by which it is still known today; literally "Golden Gate".

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