My journey, my story
The most precious thing in my life is memory. And I'm keeping it here. This blog is specially written to record my journey to different places in the world, their history and culture. Enjoy the journey and enjoy your life. Jesus Christ loves you all!!!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Shamian Island 沙面岛 – Guangzhou, China
After visiting Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall and Chen Clan Academy, my friends and I continued our journey to a small island called Shamian Island. We took MTR and stopped at the Huangsha station and went to exit D. We crossed the pedestrian overpass and soon reached the spot. The island is relatively small but it has very unique characteristics, with the most obvious one is its colonial architecture. Although it is only separated with a series of bridges from the rest of the city, the island has a completely different face in terms of building architecture. The structures of the buildings on this island follow European style.
If you travel to Guangzhou, a visit to the Shamian island is a must. The island was originally a merely sandbank on the Pearl River in Liwan district and an outpost for the city, which name literally means “sand surface” in Chinese. It was not a real island, but reclaimed in 1859 and became a concession area. The island is located a few yards from the rest of the city and is connected by a series of bridges closed at 10 pm for security reason.
Arguably as the most charming area of Guangzhou, the island boasts European style architecture and lovely park. You could still clearly see the evident of the past colonial in the structure of its houses, villas, churches and tennis courts. The island gains a special reputation among all tourist destinations in Guangzhou for it vividly reminds the visitors of the past colonial history. It is such a mesmerizing place with intoxicating atmosphere of colonial arrogance, beautiful architecture and well-kept gardens. Covered with decaying colonial buildings, it is the greatest tranquil reminder of colonial era in Guangzhou and such a blessed retreat from the fast-paced of the city's life. The roads are lined with trees and delightful European buildings. The island is a home to some old churches, trade buildings and consulates, which all of them are gracefully designed in a Western architecture. The western architecture and the tranquility of the place creates an old-fashioned and quaint atmosphere, which is rarely found in other parts of the big city.
During the Song and Qing dynasty, the island served as the key port for Guangzhou's foreign trade and a strategic defense point during the Opium Wars period. After the British and the French attained victory in the Opium Wars in 1841, the island was handed over by the Qing dynasty under the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 to their oppositions with the division 4/5 to the British and the rest to the French. Since then, the island was inhabited by various European people coming from Britain, France, America, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Japan. They were responsible for the vast development of the island and their presence influenced the characteristics of the building on this island. After their arrival, they started building banks, churches, offices and residences. They ran their business in a row of houses called “Thirteen Factories”. Slowly, the island started to form its current shape. In bygone era, the island was the only place where foreign merchants or traders were allowed to live and build their stockrooms and factories. The island remained an enclave until it was taken over by the Kuomintang in 1945 when the Chinese won the anti-Japanese war. In 1949, the mansions were used as government offices or apartment houses, and the churches were turned into factories. These western classicism buildings are designated as a key protected relic of the state.
The island started to be well known in the early 2000s as the place where Western couples reside to look for newly adopted Chinese babies, mostly were female babies. The White-swan hotel was the most favorite destination they chose to stay. The main reason is because the hotel is located near the Unites States consulate. So, it is easier to file paperwork and deal with the administration. However, since the Chinese government decided to reduce the rate of adoptions in 2007, the number of Westerners also declined.
Comprised of an area of 0.3 km2, the island has eight major roads and streets. Although separated only a few yards from the mainland by a canal, the life in this island happens to maintain its own space and to be in a slower pace. With its serenity and crumbling history, the island has been an ideal place to stroll around and inhabit the past. The old-fashioned Western buildings of the island have also successfully attracted local Chinese young couples to have their pre-wedding photos taken there. In some areas, you could see how the locals are engaged in tai ji practice, dancing, singing, and cards game.
The first building we entered in the island is this Shamian church, a Catholic church with Western-style architecture
Delight yourself with the island's tranquility as you slowly walk down the pedestrian street. Abundant bronze statues with various shapes commemorating the colonial history and the city's cosmopolitan are also found on the island.
This statue gives insight into China's changing social world depicting the development of women in China. From the left to the right shows how the image of a repressed Chinese woman of yesteryear wearing traditional cheongsham turns into the image of a modern Chinese woman wearing shorts and talking on phone.
Traffic restrictions are applied on the island to reduce pollution and congestion problems. Police do the patrolling to keep beggars off the streets. Cafes, restaurants and bars soon fill the streets and gentrify the area.
Me and my friends in front of a small bar & cafe on the Shamian Island
Bars, cafes and restaurants show their attraction in the evening, offering a romantic experience for lovers.
There is a lovely small park in the island called Shamian park. It is a natural garden covering an area of 21,400 square meters. The park used to be the Queen Garden in British concession. It was taken over by Guangzhou Municipal People's Council in 1949, restored and opened in 1960. There are many large old trees in the park. It offers the best view at night, where you could have unforgettable memory with your loved ones. It offers place to rest, entertainment and beautiful sightseeing such as sculpture garden, leisure garden, etc.
Sculpture garden at the Shamian Park
Bronze statue depicting playful children
Bronze statue of a man who is playing with his favorite bird
Bronze statue of dancing women
The night view at this open space is very beautiful with lightings and ships crossing the river, creating a very romantic experience for couples.
Inside the Shamian Park, there is a well-known open-air seafood restaurant. The locals often visit this place to enjoy their leisure life. My friends and I were ordering seafood. The seafood at this restaurant is very famous and delicious, yet extremely expensive.
The food is now complete and we are ready to eat them.. haha.. You could see how beautiful the place is in the evening.
My friend took this picture before we went home. Does not the place look tranquil? I like it most =D
It is said the bridge that connects the Shamian island with the rest of the city is closed at 10 pm for security measure
Having read my article and seen the pictures, what do you have in mind about this so-called island? I am sure you are also very interested to visit this beautiful place. Don’t forget to take your partner with you when you decide to come to this place. Take your loved one to this tranquil place to have a romantic dinner and create an unforgettable memory.
Personal experience and additional information from other online articles