Jiahe Railway Tunnel 嘉和遮體

Here is yet another roadside curiosity in the deep south of Taiwan: a false tunnel on the coastal plains of Fāngshān 枋山, Pingtung 屏東. It doesn’t cut through any mountainside nor is it built to withstand landslides. It’s just an 1,180 meter tunnel that trains pass through for no discernible reason. I first read about this on Michael Turton’s blog and later saw it on my first round-the-island bicycle tour. More recently, which is to say just a few days ago, I took a spin through the southern loop once again, and spent a little extra time examining this concrete oddity in an attempt to divine its purpose.

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100-Year-Old Bomb Shelter 百年防空洞

I found myself in the seedy port town of Keelung 基隆 near the end of my round-the-island bicycle tour of Taiwan in 2013. Later on, after dinner was done, I went out wandering the labyrinth of night—and, on the far side of the railway line near Sankeng Station 三坑車站 I noticed the entrance to a tunnel running beneath the hillside. Curious, I hunched down (the clearance is only around 175 cm) and made my way through. A minute later I emerged on the other side, somewhat disoriented, though I quickly regained my bearings.

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Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道

Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway. The main point of entry is Fulong 福隆, a beach town in New Taipei City about an hour outside of Taipei 台北 by train. Riding through the old tunnel makes for a great day trip from Taipei 台北—as long as you don’t go on a weekend.

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