Gangshan: One of Kaohsiung's Very Historical Regions／岡山，走過一把青春的大時代
Gangshan: One of Kaohsiung's Very Historical Regions
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photos by Jheng Nai-hua, Pao Chung-hui
Kaohsiung's Gangshan District is known for its air force base, military dependent villages, fastener and screw manufacturers, restaurants serving mutton, spicy bean paste, longan berry nectar and Bamboo Basket Festival. Gangshan's Mass Rapid Transit System station went into operation in 2012, making it easier for visitors to travel to the region. Be sure to visit Sinsin Farmer's Market and nearby Shiluotan. After the war, many people moved away because the government acquisitioned the land. However, many people are like Ms. Liao Pei-yu and have returned to live in Gangshan to enjoy a slower paced life. She currently lives close to the Air Force Academy and often shops at the local market. Ms. Liao particularly enjoys the interacting with venders and the other customers there. One of the things she particularly likes is one of the vegetable venders who take the time to show her customers how to effectively wash and remove pesticides vegetables.
The former historical Japanese Naval Aviation Dormitory (Sing Village) is located further along from the market, along the same route which Ms. Liao's mother used to take to her clothing shop, which is now located at the rear of Kaohsiung's Main Station. Ms. Liao recalls how she often used to assist her mother to sell clothes on the weekends. When she graduated high school, she left home to study at university and work. She rented a place in Kaohsiung's downtown, but last year, she moved back to Gangshan and again embraces a slow paced lifestyle.
During World War II, this village was the headquarters of Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. It was also the location of their main dormitories. Five two-story brick buildings with gable roofs can still be seen.
Half a century later, a TV show has been produced, which takes viewers back time and gives insight into the region's unique history. A touch of Green is a TV show that is based on Pai Hsien-yung's book, Taipei People. The story describes events during the period after WW II and describes events through the 1980s. The Republic of China acquired Taiwan after the allies defeated Japan. When the KMT was defeated by the communists in the Chinese Civil War, many Chinese families retreated to Taiwan. Many air force families traveled from Sichuan to Nanjing and then to Taipei, Taiwan. Gungshan's Sing Village was featured in the TV show as "Nanjing, Ren-ai East Village". Sing Village is located on Jieshou Road and is the sixth military dependent village, which is located near the Air force Academy. After the Nationalist government set up the Air Force Academy, the dormitory was inhabited by the school's flight instructors, who had come from Sichuan before they retreated to Taiwan then began living in the dormitory. The location of this dormitory was later transformed into Sing Village.
A touch of Green also depicts a touching love story between Air Force pilot Guo Jhen and Chu Cing. "I would really like to know which building Guo Jhen and Chu Cing had once lived," admits local resident Ms. Liao, who is an artist herself. She feels that even though in reality Sing Village is rather rundown, it still glows under the camera, with its beauty reflecting its historical significance. People do not only come to explore, but also pay their respect to history. However, the public is not allowed to enter Nanjing Ren-ai East Village and is currently heavily guarded by security.
On the other side of Agongdian River is the Lecyun Village located on Lecyun Road. This is more accessible for history lovers and explorers. Another location is the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service's dormitories. After Kaohsiung City and County merged in 2010, the Village became a historical site. Visitors can take a walk through the three dormitories and officers' houses, with mulberry trees growing around the grounds. The officers' wooden houses are over 3,000 square feet, with their magnificent doors; they are far more extravagant than the instructor's dormitories. The previous residents were more recently relocated to newly built high-rises, known as the New Lecyun Community. Today, retired air force seniors still enjoy sitting in the Chinese style pavilion and play Chinese chess. These historical sites allow visitors to better understand the region and the way military dependent families once lived.