Word War II Museum [Tengchong, China]

Tengchong was the unfortunate site of much of the fighting that occurred in China when Japan invaded in 1937. This beautifully designed museum (officially titled The Anti-Japan War Museum) chronicles the sad history with solemnity and respect.

Helmets from the war, displayed in the entrance hall.

Inside

Admission to the museum is free. Our generous Chinese hosts paid for the English translation of the museum’s recorded audio tour for us. (Because this was a gift I’m not sure of the cost, but based on experience I doubt the rental fee would be prohibitive.) I found the recording helpful; however, all signage throughout the museum includes the same English that is spoken in the recording. If you don’t mind reading your way through the exhibits, you’ll be fine without paying for audio.

It took us around an hour and a half to work our way through the many rooms of the museum, which are organized chronologically. Out of respect (and because I wasn’t sure whether or not photography was allowed), I refrained from snapping any pictures, so you’ll have to take my word. It was a wonderful experience.

Outside

The meticulous museum grounds include an expansive and impressive monument to fallen Chinese and American troops.

Before entering the solemn memorial, visitors pass through a small Buddhist prayer room where, for a donation, one can purchase flowers or light candles for the lost.

Just beyond the prayer room, at the base of a hill, you’ll find a small garden (above) memorializing the American troops who died while fighting to liberate China from the Japanese invasion. Yes, US troops—The Flying Tigers— did indeed help rescue China from Japan.

A few more steps and you begin to ascend a grassy, tree-covered hill. Rows of memorial headstones radiate up, all the way around; one stone for every Chinese soldier who died in the conflict. There are many, many stones. (Dear World Leaders: Please study history!)

The top of the hill is marked with a memorial obelisk.


The original Hell’s Angels emblem

Spending the afternoon at Tengchong’s World War II Museum was emotional, but it was important and definitely a must-see. I learned a lot, including this fun fact: “Hell’s Angels” was the name of one of the US Flying Tiger air squadrons involved in the rescue mission. There are several enticing Hell’s Angels items for sale in the museum’s gift shops, so if you don’t go for the history, go for the merch!


PRO-TIP

If you’re not a Chinese citizen, don’t forget your passport and visitor’s visa! Without these documents, you won’t be allowed in.

Published by violetlemay

writer and illustrator of children's books, eater of sweet potato fries

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