Exploring the coastline of Miaoli County up in northern Taiwan, we came across the small sleepy township of Qiding (pronounced “chee-ding”).
Noticing the mention of historical train tunnels nearby, we decided to check them out.
There’s big brown signs around so locating the tunnels isn’t that much of a challenge. If you’re coming in from the coast side, you’ll pass some greenery including this well maintained tomb:
Shortly after that you’re dumped into this little concrete area (complete with a “mini-me” temple), right next to the “modern” TRA train line,
To actually get to the bullet tunnels, you then need to head offroad for a bit, following what used to be the old train line before the current TRA one was built (I’m guessing that means the concrete area above is actually the site of the original Qiding train station):
If you’re heading to Qiding’s tunnels by bike like we were, you’re probably going to want to leave the road bike at home. Or I suppose you could just walk it, the offroad section till you get to the tunnels is only about a km in length.
The Qiding tunnels were built by the Japanese way back in 1928 with the first tunnel coming in at 130.78 meters and the second 67.48. Together these tunnels are the only two track twin tunnels that exist in Taiwan.
Due to the building of the current TRA train track the tunnels were retired in 1973, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the Miaoli government declared the tunnels a protected historical site.
That’s a shot of the longer tunnel above.
The gap of track (which is now a trail) between the two tunnels is a few hundred meters, with the second tunnel entrance also having a seating area like the first:
This inbetween area of the tunnels is of particular interest, as it’s where you can see the bullet holes left over from World War 2 on the inside entrance to the longer tunnel.
Standing at the foot of the tunnel in the dead silent leafy sunlight, it was hard to try and get a sense of the danger and imagine the battles these tunnels had seen.
The bulk of the machine gun damage is on the tunnel “gates”, which are made out of concrete and largely credited for the preservation of the tunnels today.
Oh and if you’re busting for a leak, inbetween the two tunnels is the place to go… although the toilet looks as old as the tunnels itself:
Moving on, the second tunnel is about half the size of the first:
And takes no time at all to get through.
At this point you’ve pretty much seen all of what the bullet ridden tunnels have to offer and have the option of simply doubling back, or looking for these stairs to the left (next to an old signal box?):
And heading up to Qiding Station and its viewing platform. That however, is an adventure for another day…