GulangYu is a 2km sq island which lies off the cost of Xiamen(Amoy). The island has a unique history which makes it a hot tourist spot for Chinese and well as foreigners. So rich is the culture that there are literally no vehicles on the island except for electric government cars. Bicycles are also forbidden. The island is connected to Xiamen by a minute ferry which visitors use.
As a place of residence for Westerners during Amoy’s colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China’s only piano museum, giving it the nickname of “Piano Island” or “The Town of Pianos” (鋼琴之鄉) or “The Island of Music” (音樂之島). There are over 200 pianos on this island. This tiny community of 20,000 has more pianos per capita than anywhere else on the planet.
After an intense historical lesson yesterday at the Fujian Tulou (福建土楼) we took a 1hr from Xiamen to Gulangyu. Since its off the coast, the ferry will just take 10minute. When boarding the ferry, be prepared to be charged another 2 yuan if you climb to the first floor to get a good view. “Ground Floor” is 1.5 yuan. The ferry fills to capacity to grab a handle and watch your pockets.
Upon arriving on the island one thing you will notice is…no cars. The narrow streets are filled with shops and yet still vendors who will sell you pretty much anything. Small electric police vehicles will be seen but the only means of transport is you are tires are electric minibuses, which are strictly controlled. The “beast of burden” on this island are small hand drawn carts which you can pay them a small amount to ferry goods across the islet.
Piano Museum (厦门鼓浪屿钢琴博物馆)
The island is filled with pianos everywhere are if you stop and listen for a minute, you will hear a piano being played somewhere. A piano museum is located to the east and due to its long history, photography is forbidden, perhaps to retain the glory. Entry fee is quite cheap compared with the rich history for any piano lover as the instruments inside date back to the 1940s. The museum has two halls on a hill overlooking the sea.
Hall #1 also has the world’s tallest upright piano (an 1824 Broadwood & Sons, from London), and Hall No. 2 showcases the development of the piano with exhibits like the 1928 Haines. The most old fashioned barrell organ or
piano is the most expensive piano of its era, this American marvel was completely automatic, able to perfectly imitate the styles of many well known pianists.
The sandy beach on the island are a perfect place to bake in the sun though swimming in the waters is not allowed for reasons that its abit dangerous. Despite this some however try to swim. The narrow streets of the Island are great for shipping and colling down after a tiresome afternoon. There is also a Mc Donald’s outlet so if you feel like some western food, do check in there.
Tomorrow we head out North of Fujian Province to a place called WuYiShan mountainous area. To get there we have to board an overnight slow train that will arrive in the morning, this sounds interesting. I hope there will be a power socket in the train so that I can make an update. I have heard about K-Trains in China and due to their slow speed (120km/h) they tend to be the oldest engines. Traveling in a cabin for 10 hours will be an opportunity to meet new Chinese friends and hopefully improve my speech.
Excerpts from: Amoymagic.com/gulan.htm