Banping Mountain 半屏山 is a small mountain next to the Zuoying HSR station and Lotus Lake 蓮池潭. It’s a pretty small mountain and it’s even smaller now than in the past. Starting in the Qing period, there was lots of limestone mining. The mining activity really changed the ecology and the shape of the mountain. There were even a couple of deadly avalanches on the mountain. Mining operations ceased in 1997. The mining area was replanted and it opened up as a park.
I am not the biggest fan of hiking, but what it has of interest for me is some World War 2 stuff. On the north peak of the mountain, there’s a blockhouse that dates from the mid-1940s.
The blockhouses, combat-ready in February 1945, were part of the Kaohsiung Fortress fortifications 高雄要塞. The Japanese military thought that Taiwan would be invaded by the American army, so south Taiwan was heavily fortified. This complex was designed to protect the Zuoying navy base and the oil refinery around Banping Mountain.
There are three levels of pillboxes that housed anti-aircraft guns. So let’s go and check them out.
The walk up the hill is pretty easy and has nice scenery and views of the surrounding area. The hike to the blockhouse is pretty easy and straightforward. There are even a couple of signs now pointing you in the right direction.
Looking toward the north peak. The blockhouse is up there.
Here we are. As I mentioned there are three levels of pillboxes. The first level is the biggest. This pillbox housed big anti-aircraft guns and ammunition. Not much is inside of course. But it’s still cool to see.
Unfortunately, there is now some terrible, terrible graffiti inside. The picture below shows what it looked like in late 2017.
You can see the mount for the anit-aircraft gun on the ground.
Let’s go to the second level. If you go to the back entrances of the first level you should see a little path leading the way up. Don’t go straight up the mountain. Take the path.
The second level pillbox had smaller anti-aircraft guns and was also used as a command center.
On to the third level. The top has the smallest pillbox. It was used as an observation post.
Climbing this ladder is possible ,even though it doesn’t appear to be very sturdy. Just use caution The view is worth it. You can check out the oil refinery area, and see Kaohsiung stretching in all directions.
Nice walk back.
On the Zuoying HSR side of the mountain there is another pillbox you can go and check out.
Also on the HSR side of the mountain, there are some tunnels. Maybe they were used to store munitions. Or more than likely used as air-raid shelters. I am not really sure.
I haven’t fully explored these tunnels since I am usually by myself. So I don’t really know how far they go. I also know that in the area that is in the oil refinery there is a giant water reservoir that was recently uncovered. So who knows what else is in the mountain.
There are many old stories related to Banping Mountain and its name. They mostly involve immortals, fairies, gods, and not being greedy. There are of course lots of ghost stories, too. One story relating to the blockhouse is that since many Japanese soldiers died in bombing raids around here, that their ghosts still haunt the area. Also, some people say there is still gold and treasure left over from the Japanese military buried in the mountain. The miners never found any but maybe you will!
So when you go and say hi, remember to look out for ghosts and gold!