So, James visited me over his spring break, because why not hop over to China for the ultimate spring break experience? I was so happy that he visited, and we had a wonderful week exploring Qingdao and Beijing together.
One of the most interesting experiences we had during his visit was our discovery of the WWI era German bunkers chiseled into Fushan (Mt. Fu), a small mountain in the center of Qingdao. I have hiked this mountain before (it gives great views of the city), and I had heard about the existence of the bunkers but hadn’t actually found them yet.
One blustery afternoon, James and I headed out to Fushan for a late afternoon hike.
Fushan only takes about a half hour to reach the ridge, but the fun part of the mountain is exploring the hidden nooks and scrambling up the rock formations once on the ridge. Once we reached the top, we stumbled on the opening to the bunker.
First of all, if this was in the US, the bunkers would have been closed off, refortified, and only accessible via professionally led tour. Not in China. These bunkers have been sitting here, snaking deep into the stone for over 100 years, since the Japanese drove the Germans out of Qingdao during WWI in 1914, open for anyone to explore.
We quickly downloaded a flashlight app onto my phone, and delved into the absolute darkness of the old bunker. Once inside you felt like you were in a narrow cave. Every now and then, a door appeared in the beam of our flashlight, leading to what must have been some kind of storage room. We tried not to think about how this would be the perfect place for the ghost of a German soldier to haunt.
At one point, we started quoting Lord of the Rings scenes from the Mines of Moria: “The ground shakes, drums… drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We can not get out… they are coming.”
The first tunnel we explored led through the mountain and out the other side, were the mountain dropped off steeply, so we had to turn around and make our way back through. We discovered a second set of tunnels further up, this one with a bigger main tunnel which included steps leading up into the rock. We followed the steps until we reached a small, rounded room with slitted windows peering out across the ocean. This could not have been anything but a lookout point for the Germans, watching the movement of Japanese ships in the bay.
We had a blast exploring the bunkers, thinking about the people who lived and died here 100 years ago. These bunkers are one of my favorite things about Qingdao, full of a kind of history China does not have much of. I loved the sense of adventure I experienced exploring the bunkers, delving into the dark, and praying we would not “dig too greedily and too deep,” waking something we shouldn’t in the dark.