Island, located to the southwest of the city proper, is only about a
five-minute journey by local ferry. The island has long had the name
of 'above-the-sea garden' because of its variety of pretty flowers,
the best of which can be viewed in the Shuzhuang
The highest point on the island, the Sunlight
Rock, is also the symbol of Xiamen city. Just as the saying 'one
who has not visited the Great Wall is not a true hero', those who have
not visited the Sunlight Rock cannot claim to have truly seen Xiamen.
Possibly due to the beautiful scenery
here, people living on the island have a strong liking for music,
boasting the highest piano ownership rates in China.
Gulangyu Island is by far the best sight
of this beautiful town, with its variety of colonial buildings,
pleasant winding streets and musical locals. It is the best place to
be located for those visiting this part of Fujian, although it is
sometimes hard to find a room, especially for those on a budget. Very
few of the sights here are spoiled, and there are so many charming
features, from the profusion of ancient trees, all labeled, to the
variety of seafood restaurants, most containing at least a few hideous
monsters from the deep.
How to get there: The
boat for the island leaves from the pier just across from the Lujiang
Cost: RMB80 for admittance.
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1 km south of Xiamen University stands the imposing Huli Mountain
Canon Platform. Originally built in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) to
fend off foreign imperialists, the platform boasts a huge nineteenth
century heavy artillery piece produced by the German conglomerate Krüpp,
with a maximum range of 10,000 meters.
The canon, placed here in 1891, cost a
massive 50,000 silver taels and with a weight of 60 tons and a length
of around 45 feet was the biggest coastal gun in China. Considered a
serious threat then, the canon still dominated the defenses half a
century later when a Japanese warship was gunned down during the
anti-Japanese War (1937-1945). Behind the platform are the barracks
and the arsenal.
In 1997, the Rongguang Museum was
established on the platform, most of whose exhibits were donated by a
Singapore collector. Currently the museum houses over 4,000 exhibits,
including intriguing rocks with natural paintings on them, ancient
swords and guns. Most interesting of all, there is a mini-canon here
made by the Portuguese which is only about 11 cm long.
Address: Just off Daxue
How to get there: The platform and museum are a
pleasant kilometer or so walk southwest from Xiamen University along
Opening hours: Daily.
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is located on the southern outskirts of Xiamen, close to the Xiamen University, is the Nanputuo Temple (Nanputuo si), built during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The temple is in an attractive location, built onto the slopes of Wulao Hill (Wulao feng), and is definitely one of China's best temples. It is so named because it lies to the south of Putuoshan, one of the most respected Buddhist venues in China.
Entering the front gate, you come to the Heavenly King Hall (Tian wang feng), which houses a huge laughing Buddha, accompanied by the four heavenly kings on either side. Behind the Buddha stands Wei Tuo, another deity, who is safeguarding the Buddhist doctrine. He has a stick in one of his hands, which points to the ground, a sign that the temple is rich enough to provide visiting monks with board and lodging. Stepping out of the hall, you enter a courtyard, in front of which is the Great Heroic Treasure Hall (Daxiongbao feng), a two-storey building with three Buddhas representing the past, present and future. The Great Compassion Hall (Dabei feng), behind this, houses four statues of Guanyin (the goddess of compassion).
Once passing through the main halls you will reach the Wulao Hill. The stones here are littered with characters such as 'On the heavenly border' or the more simple "Buddha", both official and unofficial. It is possible to scale up and over the hill, a bit of a task, to arrive at the Wanshi Botanical Gardens, in which is housed the giant redwood brought by Nixon in his groundbreaking visit to China.
To the South of the temple lies the Xiamen University (Xiamen daxue), with it's pleasant lake, multitude of subtropical trees and green parks. Directly opposite the temple, across the road, there is also a variety of restaurants most notably the the Dafang Vegetarian Restaurant (Dafang shucai guan).
How to get there: Take Bus No.17. Of course, taxi is the best choice.
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2 km south of Zhongshan Rd, the Overseas Chinese Museum (Huaqiao
bowuguan) is an interesting way to spend an afternoon. The museum
is dedicated to the many Fujianese and others from the southeast China
region who have emigrated to various parts of the globe. The people of
this part of China are well known for their nomadic tendencies. Even
today, with the regional rapid economic improvements, many are still
looking to get out and see the world. Today, over 2.5 million overseas
Chinese, in no less than 50 countries, claim to have Fujian ancestry.
Founded by the wealthy industrialist Tan
Kah-kee in 1959, the collection in the museum now contains pieces
donated or invested in by many of these overseas Chinese, all putting
money back into their roots. The museum is divided into six sections
from relics of old China to photographic and pictorial evidence of Huaqiao
(overseas Chinese) exploration. The ground floor's three halls contain
paintings, photos and documentation of the Fujianese life abroad, an
interesting way for foreigners to see the other side of the coin.
The pottery and bronzes here are of
particular interest, some of the pieces dating back as far as the
Shang dynasty (1600-1100 BC).
Address: South Siming
How to get there: You can take bus No.20, 22 or 25 to
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On the southern shore of Gulangyu Island is the Shuzhuang Garden (Shuzhuang huayuan), named after its original owner and built around 1900. The creators of this pretty garden attempted to create an environment that integrates the Gulangyu Island feel into its design: The Chinese will say that the garden is in the sea and the sea is in the garden. The overall impression here is pleasant. The pavilions, bridges and towers do not contrast against the natural sea views and profusion of trees.
The Shuzhuang can be a great way to while away the day on this pretty and picturesque isle. The garden is full of many species of flowers, a botanist's delight, and there is also a clean, yellow sand beach that is a good way to brave the Chinese waters, although it can get a little full. Sipping a cup of tea in the garden's tea house or relaxing with a sea view under the shade of a Gulangyu tree is vacation bliss.
How to get there: Just a stroll down from the second section of the Gulangyu Guesthouse.
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