30 October 2010

Gulangyu - Island without cars


Gulangyu Island -- although I'm guessing some part of that word already means "island" -- lies such a short distance off the coast of Xiamen that it takes longer for the ferry to load & unload than it does to cross the water.  Once there, you will immediately notice the lack of cars, though pedestrians should still beware of motorized bikes and the army of bare-chested men carrying goods around the island in carts.

Once the preferred location for foreign embassies, the island retains a European feel but there are many Asian-style gardens, and temples. There are also a lot of pianos, from which the island derives the nickname Piano Island. I would have called it Stair Island.

We also had an opportunity to tour the Sun Yat-sen Library, and visit with staff who hosted us with cold tea (unusual in China but perfect on a particularly hot, humid day) and yummy Xiamen sweet cakes from the island's best bakery.

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