As mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of hiking, but if it can be done in a couple of hours and has more than just trees to see then sign me up. Ganlan Mountain Path is a perfect example of that.
The mountain is just outside of Sinhua (新化), Tainan. Even though it’s called a mountain, it’s really just a small hill. It’s not very high and it would probably only take about 10 minutes to walk the whole path without stopping. Luckily, there is enough to see and do to spend at least an hour or so walking around.
So, why do I find this place interesting? Well, it’s because of the old cold war history.
When the KMT lost China and retreated to Taiwan, they always hoped that they would one day return and defeat Mao and the CPP. Chiang Kai-shek saw an opportunity with the war in Vietnam. The military turned this hill into a mini-Vietnam. Filled with houses, fake temples, fake tombs and tunnels to help train for fighting in Vietnam against the Vietcong.
Chiang hoped that with a lot of battle-trained troops in Vietnam, he would then just march north and go and “retake the mainland”.
The USA was afraid of drawing China into the war in Vietnam, so they only allowed a few troops in Vietnam. The US, of course, accepted lots of non-military help.
So Chiang’s plan of attacking the CPP was dashed, but luckily some of the stuff on the hill is still around for us to enjoy.
So let’s go check them out!
Here is a fake tomb that’s also the entrance to a tunnel. The tunnel is big enough for people to enter and walk around pretty easily.
Inside a tunnel. I brought a headlamp, but a cellphone flashlight should actually be good enough.
I am guessing that this was the barracks, main base area. It had stoves and table tops.
More tunnels, and fake tombs.
Ganlan Mountain Path isn’t actually on Google Maps but if you Google 心佛寺 and drive a few seconds past it you can see the back entrance.
But it’s probably better to drive a couple minutes past that and go to the main entrance and then go and explore.
One minor(or major if you have arachnophobia) is that the “village area” (off of the main path) is covered in giant spider webs. And of course, where there are giant spider webs there are giant spiders. You’ll be walking along, and bam face to face with a spider. So keep an eye out and trying to walk the same way in as you went out.
Ganlan Mountain Path is pretty cool but it is very small. I wouldn’t recommend going all this way just for it, however, if you’re in the Sinhua area then it’s a definite must-see.
So if you’re around Sinhua go and say hi!