Summer Programmes

Exploring Gulangyu Island

Travelling in China is always an experience and today’s trip to Gulangyu Island was no exception. If you’ve never travelled in a densely populated city before, you’re in for a surprise. In order to get to the island we had to get 2 buses and a ferry all of which were absolutely packed.

Imagine a bus where you are forced to stand in the doorway as there is no other space available. You are surrounded by people who are either engrossed in some game or conversation on their phone or are carefully clinging to the nearest rail and praying in the hope that the bus doesn’t suddenly brake.

A few kilometres down the road you realise that the roads seem desperately narrow and a seemingly foolish motorcyclist is in the same lane as your bus and there’s no way to avoid the apparent impending crash. But fear not, somehow the bus driver appear to avoid the collision going from 50mph to a crawl blaring his horn the entire way.

An hour of standing later and with sore feet and hands you willingly leap from bus to the pavement in search for fresh air and solid ground.

As Xiamen and Gulangyu Island is a very popular destination for many Chinese nationals, as well as foreigners, the ferry terminal was packed with people. Gulangyu Island is beautiful, as we toured the island in small groups we saw a number of wedding photos being captured, some overlooking the coastline another outside a church and so on. Having arrived dehydrated and hot from the direct sun the girls discovered a mini restaurant with A/C which served European food.

Unfortunately none of us tried any of the local delicacies but if I were to go back I having a feeling I’d be eating my way around the island looking while looking at all the pearl jewellery that is made here.

Our main stop at the island was visiting Sunlight Rock. There is a saying here on the island that you haven’t visited Xiamen until you have travelled to Sunlight Rock on Gulangyu island. If you ever have the chance pay the 60RMB (~£6) because the views are spectacular and you can really appreciate the scale of Xiamen island from afar.

Since arriving here I’ve realised that the bus drivers here are extremely skilled. I’ve lost count of the number of times that a cyclist or overburdened three-wheel cart has driven in the opposite direction to traffic and the bus driver has managed to avoid them. Given that on the island you are not supposed to use your horn I’m surprised none of them have particularly bad road rage!

So far it’s been a very productive week, but with another three left on go I’m sure I’ll be sending more material soon!

Bye for now,

Vanessa

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