Bunker tunnels near Quingdao, China

May 2005

Overlooking part of Quingdao, China, there is a rocky hillside that happens to be a sort of bunker. Built around World War Two, it currently sits abandoned.
Walking over the hill, there is the occasional clue as to what is underneath - there is the occasional machine gun turret sticking out of the mountain, made to look a little like it belongs there.

0502-174710 Gun position


When Jimmy and Evan took me there to show me the bunkers, we had a little trouble finding our way in. There is an incredible amount of development around this part of Qingdao, and the way they had found their way in last was now encroached by development. Wandering around the hill for a while though, we did find our way in.

The tunnels on the inside are quite large. Large enouugh that trucks could be driven into the tunnels. The left shot below shows one of the larger caverns inside. The tunnel to the left is large enough that a truck could be driven to it. The stairs leading to the top center lead to a gun turret.

0502-170416 0502-171335

Aside from the main tunnels, there are lots of side chambers. These are made of concrete, and have very square shapes with vaulted ceelings.

0502-170622 Entrance to a vaulted room

These vaulted rooms are actually rooms made of concrete, inisde larger caverns that were carved out. The top of the vaulted concrete enclousres are tarred. Presumably, this is to keep water which might seep through the rocks out of the vaulted rooms. I'm guessing whatever was meant to be kept inside the vaults was meant to be kept dry.

0502-172451 On top of vaulted room
0502-172620 0502-171035

There are various entrances to the bunkers. These all have very heavy concrete doors to them. From the outside, they are mostly concealed though. One of the entrances, towards where development had encroached on the tunnels, was bricked closed.

0502-171911 Blocked off tunnel

0502-174013 Aside from the large tunnels that trucks could be driven into, there are various smaller tunnels, which lead to various machine gun positions all over the hill. These are just large enough to walk in. Some of these are relatively close to the surface, and some have been collapsed.

What was also really interesting was that the tunnels were not entirely abandoned. There was some makeshift electrical wiring in the tunnels. We realized this wiring was actually live when we came across a lit compact flourescent at some point in the tunnels! We half expected to find somebody, but nobody was there.

Electrical wiring 0502-171245

Eventually, we found various knife switches and played around with switching them, turning on whole strings of lights! The light installations were no doubt there for the squatter mushroom farm that is in the mountain. There were large areas where rows and rows of manure (or whatever) were sitting on the floor. Most of these had at some point had mushrooms growing in them, but the mushrooms had been harvested and the manure was essentially spent in terms of mushroom fertility. Some of the bags did have some small mushrooms in them though.

Squatter mushroom farming 0502-170740

We also came across a room that was stacked with fresh bags of manure (or whatever). This room had quite the smell to it. And with many people, and few horses make the right kind of manure, I don't really want to know where that stuff came from!

We also found another vault where there was an old table, plastic bags and a scale. Presumably, this is where the mushrooms get weighed and bagged.

Fresh shit for mushrooms Mushroom weighstation

As well, there was thermometers here and there, a water pump, and hoses. Presumably for irrigating the mushrooms


We also came across what loked like some closed off squatters quarters. Considering the squalour a lot of chinese live in, I think these squatter quarters are pretty good. The section behind the stove was blocked off, and we didn't want to peek - didn't want to risk a chance encounter! We encountered no one in the tunnels, and we were quite happy that way.

Squatter quarters

Also interesting was that the hillside had lots of squatter graves on it. These were not necessarily squatters that were buried there. Rather, proper burial plots are priced out of reach for most chinese workers. So secretly burying your relatives in an unmarked site on some hillside is just something that some people do. Although the trees here make it pretty easy to guess where someone is buried.

Squatter graves

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