Stones left over from tunnel project snatched up by earnest collectors


TAIPEI — Over 1,000 people lined up outside an office of a highway improvement project Sunday for an unusual handout �X rocks bored out from tunnel building for the Suhua Improvement Project said to bring good luck and increase fertility.

The Directorate General of Highways office in charge of the project brought 1,000 loose tunnel stones from the Guanyin Tunnel project to the exhibition center in Yilan County as a promotional activity following the completion of the third section of the 7.9-kilometer-long tunnel in November.

The giveaway of the fist-sized stones, long said among transportation authorities to help couples give birth to baby boys, began at 7 a.m. But some keen rock hoarders gathered as early as 2 p.m. the previous day to ensure they get their hands on a rock.

Legends among engineers tell of tunnel workers finding their wishes fulfilled shortly after taking back stones from drilling sites.

A man surnamed Tsai from Taoyuan was the first in line Sunday. The father of a six-year-old boy, the elder Tsai said he hopes the charm will help them have a daughter as well.

Another man from New Taipei’s Luzhou District wrapped his stone in a piece of red cloth as soon as he received it, saying he planned to place under the bed of his son and daughter-in-law, who have not had any success making him a grandson despite having been married for a decade.

The Suhua Improvement Engineering Office first offered up free rocks in January, shortly after the second stage of the tunnel was completed. It gave away 450 stones but found demand far outpaced supply, leading to disappointment and even anger among rock hopefuls who had camped out overnight.

After the chaos that time around, the office upped its stone supply Sunday with 1,000 ��carefully picked�� stones.

Another round is set for distribution in August next year, when the fourth stage of the tunnel is completed.