By P Chong 6 April 2010
Gulangyu Island – 5-Minute Ferry Ride from Xiamen. Only 1 sq.km in area.
Europeans have their Mediterranean resorts and Americans have Florida to flee to in the depths of winter, Chinese have Gulangyu. This is where sun, sea & serenity prevail.
With no cars or bicycles, a stroll among Gulangyu’s winding streets can be a truly tranquil experience
As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen’s colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China‘s only piano museum . . . giving it the nickname of “Piano Island” or “The Town of Pianos” or “The Island of Music”. There are over 200 pianos on this island.
This fascinating island became a foreign enclave following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, hence the predominantly Victorian-era style architecture throughout the island, of which many were offices and residences of Consulate-Generals, as well as that of the past thriving expatriate business community.
Gulangyu Island is renowned for its delicate natural beauty, ancient relics & varied architectures. It is on China’s (Fujian Province) list of National Scenic Spots. It’s also well-known for its beaches & winding lanes. It’s the sort of place to relax & escape from the hustle & bustle of hectic city life of Xiamen by taking the 5-minute ferry across the river.
Gulangyu is a car-free island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian Province in southern China. It’s small & only about 1km2 in area. It is home to about 16,000 people and is a very popular tourist destination. The community’s only means of transport is by foot, and the peaceful island provides an alternative to the hectic life in Xiamen city across the river, although the recent introduction of electric tourist buggies is damaging the island’s charm.
Freight is pulled on wheeled buggies up the often steep lanes by teams of strong men, much like what they do in Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain, except that the freight there is carried on the shoulder.All powered vehicles are banned, including bicycles. As mentioned, the only powered transport are the electric tourist buggies, which barge around the island damaging the otherwise tranquil and safe streets. Ironically, as is often the case, tourists are damaging the very thing they come to see & enjoy.
Xiamen is like any Western city, bustling & teeming with activities, high rise buildings, traffic, din & noise. Anyone who’s been there & not visited Gulangyu would have missed something so precious & memorably so different not found elsewhere in China.
A great place to visit . . . where serenity prevails with sun & sea
It will long be remembered even when others fade from your memory.