Last day on beautiful Piano Island

Trip Start Mar 24, 2005
1
10
Trip End Apr 02, 2005


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Saturday, April 2, 2005

It's a beautiful sunny day. About time too. Yoong took the opportunity to wash the rest of our clothes as it is easier to dry them here than back in City Garden, where you can't open the windows without filling out lengthy forms in triplicate. After the hotel's weird breakfast of rice porridge, egg, tasteless white buns, soy milk, good grain bread with jam and luke-warm coffee, we went out for a walk, heading off in a new direction.

Everywhere you turn on this island there is something of beauty to see. We visited some colonial buildings including some we had actually seen briefly with Tom. We ended up at an attractive park dedicated to Lin Qiao Zhi, a Gulangyu-born pioneer of gynaecology and obstetrics. Along the edge were stone books with quotes from her writings in Chinese and English and the statues included a newly-delivered baby boy between two giant hands.

The nickname Piano Isle is quite valid. We could hear several pianists in the houses we passed, clearly distinguishable from the piped piano music in the more touristy streets. The only negative is the smell of the drains in the narrow streets, the same smell that finds its way into the hotel bathrooms.

We have now checked out of our Beautiful Island Hotel, leaving with them our bags and various items of wet clothing, which they promised to hang on a clothesline for us. As usual, the streets are full of Chinese day-trippers stocking up on the local sweets and clockwork zebras that walk round in circles. Chinese tourists will buy anything! We have seen very few European tourists though. This is very much a local tourist scene.

I am writing this in the grounds of the Xiamen Museum, yet another stately building with a mildly interesting display of cultural artifacts, more stone art, a couple of organs, including a huge pipe organ, and a "gift room" displaying gifts to Xiamen from countries all over the world. There didn't seem to be anything from Australia, though New Zealand was well represented. Maybe Australia hasn't heard of Xiamen. It's very quiet here. We met a couple of middle-aged local tourists but apart from that we have had the place to ourselves. There was not even much staff around once we got past the ticket-seller.

We had lunch at yet another dumpling place, one of the best so far, and found a little mooncake bakery where we bought up a selection - one of each kind to try. They were quite nice and a fraction of the price one would normally pay for mooncakes, even in China.

We spent an hour or so at the Visitors Centre, a fitting end to our Gulang Yu trip as we watched movies of the places we had seen, and a few we had missed, and viewed the photo displays and computer information.

We had planned to have a meal at Pizza Hut across from Gulang Yu, because of its famous view of the island, but we found out a few hundred other people had the same idea. We were given a number and told it would be at least another hour before we could even go up in the lift. We took our bags over to the quayside to wait and I went for a final walk around Zhongshan Lu while Yoong looked after the bags and fended off the shoe-shine ladies and photographers and beggars and map-sellers and little girls selling flowers, while at the same time enjoying the lit-up views of Gulang Yu across the water. By the time I got back she had decided that the view from Pizza Hut would not be that much different from the current one and that there was always the possibility that Chinese pizzas would be sweet, as the bread tends to be. And there was no guarantee we would be sitting near the window anyway. So we got the bus to the bus station and ate in a local restaurant, where we had pork and mushrooms, stir-fried greens, a delicious tofu dish and plenty of rice for about a fifth of what we would have paid at Pizza Hut.

We are now relaxing at the bus station ready for the sleeper bus to Shenzhen. Despite the rain it's been a very enjoyable trip, but we look forward to returning to the comforts of the City Garden Hotel.

Raymond's Travel Page
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