Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shing Mun Redoubt (photo-essay)

When talking to many local Hong Kongers, I often get the distinct sense that they invariably prefer the new to the old. Add to that the propensity of a significant percentage of the Hong Kong populace to not stray far into the countryside and you're likely to reach the conclusion that World War II sites like the Shing Mun Redoubt aren't much visited and aren't too well maintained.

But when my hiking companion that day and I checked out that which was considered the strongest part of the Gin Drinker's Line (only to fall within hours to the invading Japanese), we were surprised to find that much of what remained navigable through has actually been well maintained (by volunteers) -- and, also, that we were by no means the only visitors to the site.

Somewhat amusingly, one rather large group we came across in that part of Shing Mun Country Park seemed to be composed for the most part of youngsters who got more excited when their adult leader promised them ice cream than by what they saw in the area. Still, I must say that the overall behavior I saw on display at the Shing Mun Redoubt was infinitely more respectful of its history and heritage than what I saw when, say, visiting such as the Yuan Ming Yuan or even the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Also, that this site is one that really is interesting -- especially if you know about its place in Hong Kong's history...

One of a number of dark and narrow --
but surprisingly clean -- tunnels that
link together bunkers, pillboxes
and other military defence constructions

A hole in the roof that I suspect was made
a combination of an explosive blast
and natural erosion
over time

The ruined as well as bullet- and shrapnel-riddled
part of the former military complex

Yes, well... we did enter (and, fortunately
as well as actually,
as it turned out,
it didn't seem all that dangerous!)

The story is that homesick British soldiers
named the Redoubt's connecting tunnels
after certain famous London streets

A shot (no pun intended!)
that will be familiar to those who have viewed
Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms (2009) ;b

Inside one of those tunnels:
helpful signs
along with not so helpful graffiti

And should there be any doubt:
yes, it could get claustrophobic in there,
so it was nice to come out of a tunnel into the open
-- and especially to see bright blue skies! :)


Anonymous said...

Despite the sobering historical reminder of the bullet and shrapnel holes, this place looks like a lot of fun!

YTSL said...

Hi duriandave --

Have to say: yes, it sure is! :b

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

I recently watched "Tactical Unit: Comrades in Armes" at the NYAFF and I wondered as I was watching it if you'd hiked in that area. So cool you went through the tunnels as they did.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Hope you enjoyed "Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms". While not a classic, I have to say that I enjoyed watching it -- if nothing else for how pathetic those PTU folks were upon leaving the urban area they normally patrol and venturing into the countryside! :D