The island of Gulangyu is a weird little resort off it’s bigger sister island, Xiamen. And it is a weird place, the attempts to make it more of a resort end up taking away any of it’s natural attributes. It has interesting rock formations and hollow caverns that cause it to sound like a drum as the tide rushes in. However, the present rocks are not enough for the locals it seems and we witnessed a few people making very fake looking cliffs out of concrete. The various strewn around boulders completely look out of place next to their genuine granite counterparts. I fear I will not need to worry about them though as I expect the real rocks to be rendered to look like bad sandstone to be more in keeping with the local style. The well manicured grass verges also have a few fibreglass wandering stones. These hide speakers that play piano Muzak. continuously.
Even though the place is fake and the ferry costs one kwai to get there and eight to get back (plus another if you want to be on the top deck) it is a nice peaceful place. It did send us a bit loopy as it was easy to just wander around the place without doing anything for days. We’d met some other travellers and vowed only to meet them again on island as we did later on Hong Kong. We wasted time as well as having worthwhile excursions during which the captain and I planned our onward journey to Yangshou and Guilin before heading on to Guangzhuo then Hong Kong. The major had decided to go straight to Thailand after an encounter with a mountain woman when we went to visit some traditional earth buildings. The problem that the captain and I faced was our one month visa wasn’t going to get us to Hong Kong, a lot of the trains and coaches were booked up far in advance so we would have to stay on Gulangyu longer than expected. Since we had plenty of time it seemed a good idea to extend the tourist visa for another 30 days, though we only needed another week.