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Island --Piano IsletGulangyu
Here for "Discover
by Mr. Bai Hua
Wang's Gulangyu Photos
(Awesome photos of Gulangyu's
buildings, windows, gates, columns, capitals, ceilings, etc!)
A mere 500 meters as the fly flies across
the harbor from downtown Xiamen lies the famous 1.77 square kilometer
island of Gulangyu (or "Drum Waves," because the breakers pound
the rocks like drums).
A fair-priced ferry!
The 10 minute ferry ride to Gulangyu costs nothing unless you sit upstairs,
where a ticket lady will collect about twice nothing (one Yuan or so).
But unless you can swim, you have to pay the piper for the return trip-which
at about 1.5 Yuan is still a better deal than Hong Kong's Star Ferry or
Disney Land's "Pirates of the Caribbean." (Though for the best
deal try NYC's Staten Island Ferry, which has been free for foot passengers
since July 4th, 1997; thanks to G. Sweeney for reminding me of this).
It won't take you long to understand why Laowai chose this tiny island
for their International Settlement. And even today Gulangyu possesses
one asset almost unheard of elsewhere in China: quiet! Vehicles and bicycles
are forbidden on the tiny island. (In fact, Gulangyu has not had cars
one sound you will hear on Gulangyu is pianos.
This tiny community of 20,000 has more pianos per capita than anywhere
else on the planet -hence Gulangyu's nickname "Piano Isle."
Preachers & Pianos Early on,
Protestants started several churches on Amoy and Gulangyu Islands--including
China's 1st Protestant Church. (in 1848).
David Abeel, Elihu Doty, Rev. William Pohlman, William Burns, J. Macgowan,
Rev. John Van Nest Talmage--the list of well known missionaries and mission
doctors (like Sir Patrick Manson, Father of Tropical Medicine) in Amoy
Catholics were busy too. The Vicariate
Apostolic of Amoy (created in 1883 under the Dominicans) oversaw 11 European
and 8 Chinese priests, 32 churches or chapels, 3 orphanages, and 13 schools
(and included Taiwan in its domain). The piano played an integral part
in all religious services-and Gulangyu folk have been hooked on them ever
It is no surprise that an inordinate number of famous pianists have come
from tiny Gulangyu island. Gulangyu has more pianos per capita than any
other city in China (perhaps even in the world)-over 350 pianos, or one
in every five homes.
Virtually every evening some family is holding a recital for their budding
pianist, and many go on to study in the Amoy Music Academy, and from there
to play in London, New York, Paris-or the local churches from whence the
pianos came in the first place.
Savor Gulangyu's silence (punctuated
by a few hundred preschoolers practicing scales or "Chopsticks"),
then a glimpse of the magnificent harbor and skyline by climbing Gulangyu's
Sunlight Rock. (You'll really wish you had 'stolen' that glimpse when
you fork out 40 Yuan for the entrance ticket).
Descend Sunlight Rock's sweaty heights and cool off by windsurfing in
the harbor, or taking a bumpy speedboat tour around the island. Then visit
Dragon Hill, Hoisting Flag Hill, or the many parks and gardens where Chinese
colleagues eagerly point out the ancient engraved inscriptions that immortalize
every rock and boulder (for after 5,012 years, Chinese have analyzed and
written poems about every mountain, rock, river and lake in China).
If you have a couple of hours, take a leisurely walk on Gulangyu's paved,
4 kilometer ring road. Savor the beach on one side and the eclectic architecture
on the other-bungalows built in English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish
and Chinese styles. You can even walk on water on the Nine-Bend Forty-Four
Bridge, which snakes across the water at Shuzhuang (Bean Plantation) Garden.
Shuzhuang Garden was built by a Taiwanese businessman who moved here with
his family during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895.
If two-hour hikes aren't your cup of coffee, you do have alternatives.
You can be hauled around on a bamboo litter by bearers wearing unique
numbered uniforms, just like the Good Ole Days when their ancestors hauled
our forebears to public parks and private clubs that even in Xiamen bore
signs, "No Chinese or Dogs Allowed."
At least nowadays the litter bearers are well paid for their services.
And they give camera--loving Laowai some good photo opportunities.
If bamboo litters aren't your style either, take a boat. The 8 kilometer
cruise around Gulangyu offers tantalizing glimpses of Monkey Isle, Baozhuyu
(Pearl) Isle, and Huoshaoyu Isle (or 'Burning Isle," because it is
an extinct volcano).
Many cities in China have put out glossy tourist brochures with such boasts
as "1,043 Scenic Sights famous at both home and abroad." (Quanzhou
City, to our north, boasts over 2,000!). But with Gulangyu, it's no brag,
just fact. Gulangyu has dozens of sites worth a looksee, like The Overseas
Chinese Garden for the Introduction of Subtropical Plants, which has over
1,000 species of plants, one experimental horticulture nursery, and a
refrigerated room. You might also enjoy touring some of the 1,000+ Western
style buildings put up by Laowai during the heydey of the opium trade.
The following are Gulangyu's main attractions.. (According to Dr. Jan,
somewhere between sites # 26 and # 36 is a former underground Japanese
Click Here for Gulangyu Map
showing locations of these 69
1. Ferry Quay
2. Former English Consulate (1844)
3. Underwater World
4. Book Store
5. Former Spanish Consulate (1850)
6. Xiamen # 2 Hospital
7. Catholic Church (1917)
8. Piano Island Hotel
9. Beautiful Island Hotel
10. Bank of China
11. Concert Hall
12. Xiamen Music School
13. Marine Environmental Forecasting Center
15. Former Dutch Consulate
16. People's Stadium
17. Gulangyu Hotel
18. Dragon Head Hill
19. Sunlight Rock
20. Zhengchengong Museum
21. People's Primary School
22. Xiamen Trinity Christian Church
23. Qin Dynasty Statuary Exhibit
24. Gulangyu Local Government
25. Cavern of Horror
26. Bishan Park
27. Xiamen #2 Middle School
29. Xiamen Museum
30. Longshan Cave
31. Former U.S. Consulate (1865)
32. Former Salvation Hospital (1898)
33. Yanwei Hill
34. Xiamen KLI Cactus Amusement Park
35. Post Office Training Center
36. Jide Palace
37. Fujian Arts & Crafts School
38. Gulangyu Experimental Ctr. of
Fujian Provincial Agricultural
39. Langdong Hill
40. Gulangyu Fishery Shipyard
41. Gulangyu Villa
42. Gulangyu Villa Ferry (C.T.S.)
43. Gulang Rock
44. MeiHua Beach
45. Xiamen Overseas Chinese Subtropical Garden
46. Bird Garden
47. Piano Garden
48. Cable Cars to Sunlight Rock
49. Gulangyu Naval Sanitorium
50. Gulangyu Army Sanitorium
51. Gusheng Tunnel
52. Gangzaihou Beach
53. Gospel Hall
54. Yanping Park
55. Shuzhuang Garden
56. Cadre's Sanitorium
57. Seaview Garden Holiday Resort
58. Former Denmark Telegraph Office
59. Seaview Villa Ferry
60. Seaview Villa Beach
61. Yu Garden
62. Former Yude Girl's School (1880)
63. Dadeji Beach
64. Cadres' Economics & Trade School
65. Lodge Cabin
66. Zhengchenggong Stone Statue
67. Bright Moon Park
68. Fuding Beach
69. Flag Raising Hill
for more on Gulangyu Architecture
Fujian Sites Fujian
Foto Album Xiamen
Last Updated: May 2007
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