Sunday, June 7: After talking with Sam, the English-speaking Chinese guy from the ferry, my driver begrudgingly takes me to the east side of the island to see Multicolored/Colorful Beach (五彩滩景区；WǔCàiTānJǐngQū), a volcanic stone beach.
I have to walk down a long paved path lined with food and souvenir vendors, but I finally reach the stone beach. Luckily it isn’t very crowded.
The view is not that interesting until I look to the north, where the beach opens before me like a multi-textured moss-covered carpet of lava.
I find a young family sitting on the stones under an umbrella.
I love all the moss and lichens, and the shapes and textures of the lava beach.
It’s very peaceful here, and I wish now I had known about this place from the beginning. I could have spent a lot more time exploring. As it is, my time is running out, and I can’t stay too long.
This is by far my favorite place on Weizhou Island, and I can thank Sam for that. Finally, I’ve discovered a hauntingly surreal landscape that is unexpectedly delightful.
This is the kind of place I could explore for hours.
The minutes are speeding by, so I head back up the long paved path to rejoin my driver. Sam had earlier told me that the driver wanted to take me to the Catholic Cathedral in Shèngtáng. We head off through the banana plantations to the village, also on the east side of the island. The Cathedral is in the center of the village, surrounded by a bustling food and souvenir market. When I get out of the motor tricycle, I head around to the back of the Cathedral, where I run into this beautiful couple having their photos taken by a professional photographer. They don’t mind me taking a couple of pictures of them.
The Catholic Cathedral was built over a decade in 1853 by French missionaries. It is a neo-Gothic style and is made of coral sedimentary rocks from the sea bottom (Wikitravel: Weizhou). I’m happy to find the grounds are well-maintained.
Inside, more brides and grooms are having their photos taken. I can’t help but wonder how many, if any of them, are actually Catholic.
Finally, I go out into the street and take some pictures of the facade of the Cathedral. I’m looking all around for my driver, and I find him at a corner restaurant slurping down some noodles. I guess the poor guy had to eat some lunch since I never wanted to stop for lunch. I grab myself a small snack of some chips and a drink and we sit and watch the busy life in the village.
At last, we’re on our way back to the ferry, where I bid adieu to the driver and immediately board. The skies are darkening and the wind is picking up, which could delay or even cancel the ferry’s departure.
For some reason, our departure is delayed. I am fretting as the skies are so ominous. After about 15 minutes of waiting without being able to understand the announcements, I text Sam: “Hi Sam, do you know what is the delay with the ferry?” He texts back, “The ferry will go after the storm stopped.” I write back: “Oh no!” He says: “Maybe in 20 mins.” Sure enough, in 20 minutes, the ferry blows its horn and we chug out into the sea. Sam writes, “Here we go now! We will arrive at Beihai around 16:30.” Strangely enough, the sea is not as rough as it was this morning, and no one seems to be getting sick. I wonder if it’s because I’m now on the bottom level of the ferry, which may be more stable than the top-level, where I sat on the voyage to the island.
Meanwhile, I’ve texted Mari’s driver and let him know of our delay. Luckily, when I arrive at the ferry terminal in Beihai at around 4:30, he’s waiting for me. I hop in his car, and he drives me back to Nanning. It takes us four hours to get back because of heavy traffic in various spots, so it’s after 8:30 pm when I arrive back at my apartment. I feel bad for the poor driver, who now has to drive back to Beihai at this late hour. After he drops me, I text him, “Thank you for all your hard work driving! I’m sorry you have to drive back to Beihai tonight!” I know he can read some version of my message because he has a translation app on his phone. He writes back: “Don’t mention it should be.” Even though we had very little communication between us, I deeply appreciated this kind and dependable man. 🙂