Sunday, June 7: I wake up early to a dreary morning and I worry that the ferry to Weizhou Island will be canceled. The island is located 21 nautical miles south of Beihai City in the Gulf of Tonkin, an arm of the South China Sea. The ferry was canceled yesterday because of inclement weather, so I expect it may be the same today. That would be a disappointment, as I don’t have much time left in China and this is my last opportunity to see it.
Yesterday, Mari and her driver and I dropped by the ferry terminal to check on today’s ferry. There was a helpful guy working in the terminal who could speak excellent English. He gave me his phone number, so this morning I call him to check on the status. He tells me the ferry is still planning to go to the island and he gives me instructions on how to get the ticket he’s reserved for me.
I pack up all my stuff and, after having breakfast at Mari’s apartment, I leave, locking the door behind me. I head to the garage where her driver is waiting for me, right on time. I load my stuff into the trunk of his car, as he’ll drive me directly back to Nanning when he picks me up at the ferry terminal later this afternoon.
The driver takes me to the ferry terminal, where I get the ticket the nice guy reserved for me, and line up to board the ferry. I’m a little worried because I wanted round trip tickets; however, he was unable to get my return ticket from the Beihai end. I’m told I have to get the return ticket on Weizhou. This stresses me out as there are so many people going to the island, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get a return ticket. I have to work tomorrow and Mari’s driver will be waiting for me, so I don’t want to get stuck on the island.
According to China Travel.com: Weizhou Island has an area of 36 square kilometers. It extends for 6.5 kilometers from south to north and is 6 kilometers wide. The circling-island road, which connects scenic spots, villages, and ports is 15.6 kilometers long. According to WikiTravel: Weizhou is China’s biggest and youngest volcanic island. Formed by volcanic eruptions about 7,000 years ago, it has a unique geological and geomorphological landscape. The sea around Weizhou is rich in corals and other aquatic animals.
The seas are quite rough this morning and the ferry ride is longer than the promised hour. On this uncomfortable ride, people are vomiting into bags all around me. Thank goodness I don’t get sick myself.
Once I’m on the island, I climb off the ferry with the hundreds of other passengers and go down a long walkway to look for someone to transport me around the island. Before I do, I stop at the ticket booth and buy my return ticket to Beihai for 3:00. They tell me I need to be at the dock by 2:00 to catch the ferry. That doesn’t give me much time, as it’s nearly 11:00 a.m. now.
At the end of the walkway, there are scores of people on motor tricycles and taxis trying to drum up business. One woman follows me all the way from the walkway to the parking lot, gabbing in Chinese the whole time. I end up taking a ride from another guy just because she is so annoying. His charge is quite high, 100 yuan for the day (11:00 am-3:00 pm). I’ve already spent a lot of money, as it costs 180 yuan EACH way for the ferry, plus an entrance fee to get onto the island of 100 yuan. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to stay at Mari’s house for the weekend, and I’ve had her driver readily available, I still am spending a lot on food, pearls ( 🙂 ), and this trip to Weizhou.
Our first stop is Saint Maria Church, a small Gothic-style Catholic Church in Chengzai village. It is less famous than the Catholic Cathedral in the middle of Shengtang Village, but still opens its doors for Sunday Mass.
I enjoy walking around the grounds and through the church, and chatting with the friendly fruit vendors. I find it refreshing to find this church in China, only the second I’ve seen since the one I saw in Beihai’s Old City. I have seen Buddhist temples throughout China, but I’ve never seen churches outside of this part of Guangxi province.
After walking around the church and the grounds, I return to the small parking lot and hop into my motor tricycle, wondering where my driver will take me next. 🙂