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Taiwan – Living in History at 銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

欢迎来到銃樓民宿 Welcome to Chong Lou Minsu!

When visiting heritage-rich Kinmen, there is nowhere better to stay than a historical resident house. These traditional southern Fujianese 闽南 buildings often came with a rich history and heartening stories as Kinmen was the site of fierce fighting between Communist and Nationalist forces when the latter withdrew from the mainland in 1949. I stayed at Chong Lou Minsu 銃樓民宿 located in the Shuitou village cluster.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

One of the most distinguishing cultural characteristics of Kinmen would be the red-bricked Min-Nan style architecture and villages, mirroring those found in Zhangzhou and Quanzhou where most Kinmenese immigrants came from.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Shuitou in Jinchen Town was a community inhabited mostly by the Huang clan. The 18-house complex of the Huang clan, constructed during the Qian-lung reign is characterized by its lower gates and walls, wide roofs, smooth and flat stone plates in the yards, and alleys between houses leading to narrow passes.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Spotting the signage for our minsu

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Chong Lou Minsu was the movie setting for a Taiwanese idol drama Summer Fever 戀夏38℃. It was the home of the main actor Ah Kuan 阿宽。This signage at the entrance was left untouched after the movie was completed. It’s also easier for us to identify which is our minsu out of the umpteen houses along the row!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Poster of Summer Fever proudly displayed in the minsu

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

这不是阿宽,是阿凯 This is not Ah Kuan, but Ah Kai who loves to get into my camera frame lol. Scoot! :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Looking at the western-style Quanzhou white stone wall house built in 1934, I felt like I stepped back into history. Nice.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Shuitou villagers mostly engaged in agriculture or fishery, which may explain the use of fishes to adorn the house exterior. Fishes also mean abundance “鱼=余” in Chinese so it’s a prosperity symbol.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

OMG, this is the first time I am seeing a hand-drawn well pump, and it works! Someone quick pass me a bucket of clothes to wash haha!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

I may be living in history, but I still have wifi to link me back to civilization! Phew, and I was just about to hunt for carrier pigeons ☺

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

An air of serenity greeted me at Kinmen; everything just slowed down and bade me to enjoy the calmness…a hard-earned one considering the years of war the island had gone through.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Say ni hao to the minsu owner Sister Li. She is a burst of energy and so friendly! She used to drive a 小蜜蜂 or Little Bee, which is a truck selling snacks and everything you can think of to the army boys around Kinmen. Maybe that’s why she has a motherly feel about her, and very huggable haha!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The main hall of the minsu decorated with cultural momentos and memorabilia

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The wind-lion god 風獅爺 is something very symbolic of Kinmen. Seen here as part of a chess set.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Side hall

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Little courtyard perfect for a little chat or intimate meal gatherings

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Kitchen

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Chong Lou has rooms that can accommodate 1 to 8 people. They come with the essential basic amenities such as air-con, TV, wifi and ensuite bathroom.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Exploring the rooms upstairs

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Large enough for the whole family or a group of friends

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

I was intrigued by the stairwell with an iron grille. In the past, residents would lock up this stairwell when they slept at night to prevent pirates from sneaking in and kidnapping them. Of course, there is no need for that now.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

And here’s my cosy little room! Shucks I should have brought my cheongsam to match the ambience lol

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Toilet equipped with bath towels and shampoo/bath gel. And flushing system :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

It’s a nice, sunny day to explore Chong Lou’s surroundings!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Most of the Min Nan style houses here are relatively well-preserved. I was soaking in the atmosphere with much enthusiasm, and couldn’t stop taking photos.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Jinshui Elementary School
The building of Jinshui Elementary School in 1931 at the sponsorship of overseas Shuitou natives marked the beginning of new-style school architecture in Kinmen. During the Japanese occupation, the school had served as a wartime makeshift hospital. It was later transformed into an elementary school.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

A very important place to note just opposite the school – food! :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Look what I spotted growing just beside Deyue Tower 得月楼 – a tree full of longans! Yumz!!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

All in a day’s work

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The minsu provides a hearty breakfast. Just come eat with the rest of the guests at the communal dining hall, very village-feeling indeed. And a great way to make friends :)

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

This Cantonese porridge, a Kinmen delicacy, was chockful of ingredients and delish to the max! And I am still thinking of it…

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Bon Appetite!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

A group photo of us all from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore
We may come from different parts of Asia, but we are one happy big family in Kinmen!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

And the 2 monkeys showing how much they enjoyed Kinmen :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu
金門鎮金城鎮前水頭84號
Tel: 0980 988 077 / 0919 761 231 (Look for 李碧玉 Li-jie/Sister Li)
Website: www.5657.com.tw/baewan
Email: libe03@yahoo.com.tw

Getting to Kinmen
You can reach Kinmen by domestic flight in approximately 1 hour. Flights are aplenty daily from 3 domestic carriers from Kao Hsiung, Taipei, Taichung or Tainan. You will fly to Kinmen Airport金門尚義機場。

Another way to get to Kinmen is via Xiamen International Ferry Terminal or just from Wutong port which is close to Xiamen airport (around 30 mins). Another way is from Quanzhou Shijin port which takes about one hour (Taiwan passport only).

When to go Kinmen?
Kinmen worth visiting all year round. The annual average temperature is around 21 degrees Celsius, though it can get quite hot in summer (hats and sunscreen are a must unless you are aiming for aboriginal-worthy tan skin). There are northeasterly winds during the winter and the rainy season runs from April through to September. Travel between Taiwan and Kinmen is often affected by heavy fog during early Spring.

In spring, admire the golden sea of rapeseed flowers. In summer, hang out on the beach. Autumn is the best season to feast on fat yellow fish and crabs. Come winter, migratory birds make for an impressive sight.

Map of Kinmen: bit.ly/KinmenMap

Getting to Chong Lou Minsu
Map:
http://www.5657.com.tw/baewan/p04.htm
Public Transport: Take the public bus from Kinmen Shang Yi airport to Jincheng Bus Station金城車站, change to Bus 7 towards Shuitou Village水頭村莊. Alight at Li Gong Suo Zhan 里公所站, turn left and walk 1 minute to the minsu.

Pick-up from airport or car rental (with GPS navigation) can be arranged by the minsu, contact Sister Li via mobile or email for more details. You can ask the minsu to help arrange for sight-seeing activities as well. I would recommend getting a driver/self-drive if you can so as to save travelling time and see more attractions. It’s pretty affordable.

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Photography – Taking Aim

Kinmen - Taking Aim

Taken at Kinmen 金门 I thought it was interesting to have a basketball court right in front of a temple – an interesting juxtaposition of Chinese & Western culture :)


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Taiwan – Kinmen: Fruitful Cuisine at Quan Min 湶民水果餐創意料理

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

A restaurant with no menu, no advertising, no walk-ins. And a success.

A restaurant with no menu, no advertising, is only known by word-of-mouth and requires advance booking. We came by this interesting restaurant serving innovative fruit cuisine tucked away in idyllic Kinmen.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Quan Min started in a village 6 years ago serving innovative meals made with the season’s best fruits (hence no fixed menu and the need for advance reservation to ascertain adequate supply). They have never done any advertising and only depended on word-of-mouth. It may have been a sure-recipe for failure, but the restaurant has done so well that they have moved to new and bigger premises 2 years ago, and become a dining spot recommended by locals to visitors visiting Kinmen.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Even the fishes seem friendlier here, hi there! :)

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Jolly bees at the lotus pond

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

All of Quan Min’s dishes are cooked with a variety of fruits. While fruits add a sweet touch to savoury dishes and desserts, it takes a bit of effort to get the correct pairing as well as choose the best way to cook them so as not to destroy the nutritional value of the fruits.

The day’s menu is decided by the season’s best fruits that the restaurant gets. 8 items are included in the set meal and costs TWD550 per person/TWD250 per child. Vegetarian meals are also available upon request. While this price is on the mid-high range in Kinmen, for me it was super value for money – I can probably get only 1 main course in Singapore for that price!

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

The restaurant grows their own vegetables apart from importing fresh produce for their innovative dishes. Look at the amount of land they have!

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

A husband-and-wife team
Originally running a minsu and selling fruits, the couple decided to open a restaurant to get a more stable income (they made the right choice!). The missus helms the kitchen while the hubby fronts the restaurant.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Curvy brinjals

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Green peppers

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Hello birdy, don’t run away I am not gonna eat you (although you look kinda exotic-tasting muahaha)! :p

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

This little orange chilli belies its petite appearance – it is so spicy a teeny-weeny portion was enough to give me lips to rival that of Angelina Jolie’s. Even a chilli queen like me conceded defeat.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Here’s the restaurant owner Mr Weng and our every-ready ‘model’ Kai.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

I discovered they made really nice earrings too…gotta be careful not to burst them, or end up with swollen ears lol

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Am officially hungry after a walk amongst the farm…and sneaked a peek into the kitchen
That’s the missus Mrs Weng in pink. All dishes are lovingly prepared by her, and have to undergo her scrutiny before being brought out for guests. So meticulous is she, that she personally oversees the dish washing.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Mr Weng explaining the dishes to guests

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Fruit Salad 水果沙拉
We couldn’t stop the ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the pristine presentation when the first dish arrived. I almost couldn’t bear to eat it. Lucky the glutton genes got better of me, delish! :)

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

番茄藏薯泥 Tomato with mashed potato topped with smoked salmon and roe
This was one of the highlights for me – it was so good I am still reminiscing about it. And I don’t even eat starch-rich potatoes to begin with. The texture was so smooth, tasted so sweet…and paired so well with the juicy tomato. So enjoyable, I might consider flying back just for this.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

蘋果烤雞腿 Roasted chicken with apple and roselle
I happily tucked into the juicy chicken prepared with a special sauce. It wasn’t oily at all, and eating it with the apple strips gave a refreshing aftertaste.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

鳳梨櫻花蝦炒飯 Fried Rice with Sakura Prawns and Pineapple
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes, this is also from Mrs Weng’s hometown. I love it when nostalgia is blended into cooking.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

凤梨焗海鮮 Baked prawns with Cheese in Pineapple
2 fresh giant prawns were baked with a variety of condiments in the pineapple itself. I was suppoused to take a side view of this dish, but cutting opening this dish was like opening Pandora’s box – I forgot all about it and the prawns dived straight into my mouth. So erm, burp! :p

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Kai loves his prawns too!

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

水梨排骨湯 Chinese Pear with Pork Ribs Soup
It was nice to clear the palate with a wholesome soup just before dessert. There was nothing pretentious about it, just simple and nutritious, something I can have everyday.

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

芒果牛奶布丁 Milk Pudding with Mango
This was the finale to a very enjoyable meal. Usually, we would be too stuffed by now to eat dessert, but I managed to clean up the cup. I doubt there would be much dish-washing to do, since we ate up all our food :)

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Bring back a bottle of fiery chilli or locally-harvested honey home

金门,台湾 - 湶民水果餐創意料理

Happy diners, two thumbs up! :)

Overall, I enjoyed the dining experience at Quan Min. It was healthy cuisine which tasted as good as it looked, and the fruit pairings were well-executed. You may find another restaurant serving fruit cuisine, but it would be difficult to replicate the dedication this couple has to perfecting their innovative fruit cuisine, as well as the pride Mr Weng has for his wife. Now that’s what I call cooking with love. :)

Quan Min Creative Fruit Meals 湶民水果創意料理
Address:金門縣金寧鄉伯玉路2段224巷8號
Map Coordinates: 24°26’29.2″N 118°20’29.8″E
Tel:(082) 324 489 (reservations required)
Opening Hours:11:30AM to 2:00PM; 5:30PM to 8:30PM (Closed on Mondays)
Facebook Page
Cost: TWD550/pax, Vegetarian/Kids meals available upon request
Cash Only

Visiting Kinmen? This map of Kinmen will be useful for you (Source: Kinmen County website).
Read more posts on Kinmen
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Taiwan – 金门 Kinmen under the Stars

風獅爺文物坊

風獅爺文物坊 Feng Shi Ye Heritage Square
Admiring the night sky against traditional Min Nan architecture in 金门 Kinmen, Taiwan. I felt like I travelled back 200 years in time. What a great getaway from the busy, urban landscape.