Random crockery and b … b … bats!
An overgrown rubbish dump
Here’s a cool little piece of hidden Hong Kong that I found with the help of Gwulo. It’s located off Tai Tam Road in the south of Hong Kong Island and is another of the many overgrown war remnants that give an insight into Hong Kong’s increasingly hidden wartime past.
It’s a bunker of some kind, built, it is thought, some time in the 1930s. It was most likely constructed by the British forces towards the latter part of the decade as the threat of Japanese aggression became more and more likely, and thus, the need for further fortification became more and more necessary in case of invasion. These structures would have occupied a key location in the defence of Hong Kong Island, particularly as they were built at the junction of several vital roads in the area. It’s no wonder then that the bunker, as we see when we venture inside, was so heavily fortified.
These days, the entrance is so full of rubbish, leaves and overgrown branches, that getting inside is half the battle, particularly when you’ve no idea what surprises await you on the other side. Thankfully, however, after the initial clambering and unsure-footedness, the ground does reappear and you can continue into the complex relatively unimpeded … until you turn the corner.
How did that get there?
I’ve no idea how, and I’ve no idea why, but for some reason, the first room you come to after the entrance has become filled with hundreds of cooking pots, plates and other assorted crockery over the years. Who left them there we’ll never know. Maybe it was part of some bizarre culinary ritual. Maybe it’s a cooking cult of some kind. Either way, it’s pretty unnerving to find such a strange collection when you’re scrabbling round in the dark with a pretty inadequate torch in your hand, especially given the din it makes when you have to walk across it all.
According to Gwulo, the bunker was used as a command centre for the area as the Japanese continued their invasion of Hong Kong during December of 1941. It was evidently all wired up and fully equipped when in operation. We can see in the picture of the pottery room the spaces on the walls where some of the original fixtures used to be, and after negotiating the obstacle course within, we reach the main room of the complex, together with its ceiling-hanging inhabitants.
Now, I’m not afraid of bats per se. It’s just that a lot of the time you hear things said about bats, you hear things said about rabies and flesh-eating bacteria that lives in their poo, too. So naturally, I’m a little wary of anything that has the potential to transmit anything that has an almost 100% fatality rate or make my arms and legs fall off. Having said that, bats do have a tendency to sleep for most of the day, so if you make no effort to disturb them, they’ll probably pay little interest in you.
As in the pottery room, the walls of the bat room still show the signs of the breakers and boxes that powered the place. It was also in here that the artillery outside could be directed and the ill-fated defence of the Tai Tam Gap positions co-ordinated. The concrete columns look like they were used to support the maps or tables on which they were displayed, while the blue line around the middle of the wall, although it makes the place look a little like a squash court, probably wasn’t intended as an aid to such recreational pursuits.
All in all, it’s a pretty interesting place to visit. There’s nothing actually there other than the empty shell of the bunker itself and a few other overgrown structures around, but it’s the exploration that counts. The bats and the pottery only make it all the more of a strange netherworld. Plus, as with all of these abandoned war remnants, standing there in the darkness and silence, trying to comprehend the purpose for which these buildings were built and the men that built them, it’s a world away from life outside. That in itself should make you view things differently, if only for a short while, when you step back into reality.
How to find it
The best way to get there is to take bus 9 from the Shau Kei Wan bus terminus. This will take you along Tai Tam Road where you need to jump off at the Sai Wan Treatment Works just before the roundabout (see map).
After getting off the bus, walk twenty metres or so in the same direction towards the small concrete building shown in the picture. The building looks as though it was once a storage depot of some sort, presumably built around the same time as the other less conspicuous structures nearby. You will see a black and white barrier just before it and an access road leading down the hill.
Follow this road a short way down until, just as the road bends round to the left, you see a partially hidden and rather dilapidated concrete path heading off to the right. Take this path and make your way down the steps until the area opens out a little. You should see the bunker entrance somewhere to your right, dug into the undergrowth.
Related Posts: For more about Hong’s Kong war remnants on where to find them, check out visit tag: Hong Kong War Remnants