A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to Lamay Island, an island off the south-west coast of Taiwan. I'm not sure why it's called Lamay Island since it has a totally different name in Chinese, but actually, that's not so uncommon for islands in this part of the world. (European explorers often attached new names to islands they "found" in East Asia that already had names that the Chinese/Japanese/whoever had given them. As a result, in the English speaking world, the name the white guy came up with is the widely used one even though it sounds nothing like the name the locals use.)
Before I start talking about Lamay Island though, I want to mention The Pen Bay. No, I'm not making a weird joke, that's its name, as you can see in the photo:
Taiwan didn't have a standard system of romanizing Mandarin until fairly recently, so to this day there are often multiple spellings for place names in Taiwan. Probably as a result of this freewheeling, no-holds-barred attitude towards spelling, Taiwanese people also seem to like sometimes making up creative ways to spell Mandarin place names. "The Pen Bay" should be "Dapeng Bay" according to Hanyu Pinyin transliteration, which is the official method of transliterating Mandarin in China, as well as in Taiwan as of a handful of years ago. However, the pronunciation of the word is such that it kind of sounds like "The Pen", especially if the person saying "The Pen" has one of those accents where they pronounce "th" and "d" pretty much the same. This spelling doesn't totally not make sense, but I wonder if it didn't occur to anyone that "The Pen" is a weird name for a geographical feature. Is there also "An Eraser Mountain" somewhere? What about "That Wrench Delta Plain"? "These Electrical Cords Island"?
I got totally off-track talking about the name, but The Pen Bay is a park nearby Donggang, the port from which we were to depart to go to Lamay Island. Since we were in the area, we decided to check it out.以前、日本時代には大鵬は海軍基地として使用されていた。中華民国の政府も基地として使い続けたけど、何年前その基地が無く成って、今は公園に成っている。下の写真は海じゃなくて、湖だ。元々は海だったと思うけど、堤防によって切り離された。
The above photo is not the sea, though I think it used to be. This body of water was dammed off from the sea to make this lake.
The Pen Bay is a park now, but it was used as a navy base by the Japanese during their reign over Taiwan. The building below is a munitions shed. Because bombs were stored in it, the walls are over 3 feet thick.
This here is a bomb shelter.
And here is a platform from when the branch line of a train went out to the base.
This was my favorite part of The Pen. The building next to this tunnel was the military headquarters here. The Japanese built a large, underground bunker below the building. They flooded most of it near the end of the war, but some of it was recovered by the Chinese Nationalist military afterwards. They used it for a while, and now it's open for viewing by tourists like me.
Here's the front of the military headquarters building.
The photo above is the ferry, and below is the port at Lamay Island.
We decided to travel around Lamay by renting bicycles. I had assumed that the island would be totally flat when I heard it was made of dead coral reefs--such islands usually area--but it turned out to be quite hilly. It seems that the island is being lifted up by plate tectonic activity. You can still get around the island by bicycle if you're in good health, but it's a lot of work!
We stayed at the camping ground on the island. They rent out tents too.
Here's the camp ground from above.
It was already getting dark at this point, but we still cycled around a bit more. The photo above is a grave, believe it or not, and the photo below is, I don't know, the house of some guy who really likes bowling!?
It's not perfect because I moved a little, but I got a decent photo of the moon.
In the photo below, you can see the glow from the Taiwanese mainland.
More to come next time!