Sunday, June 7: After we leave the Saint Maria Church, my motor tricycle driver takes me to Nanwan (South Bay), a natural bay formed after a major volcanic eruption. It opens to the south with cliffs on the sides. The driver wants me to take a boat ride out into the bay and around Crocodile Hill. He deposits me at a table under a covered awning beside a derelict abandoned bus. I think people are living in the bus, or possibly using it as an office, as they are coming in and out of the bus as I’m waiting.
A man wearing an Asian conical hat, called dǒulì (斗笠), literally meaning a “one-dǒu bamboo hat,” is sitting at the table as I wait. I don’t know exactly what we’re waiting for, possibly for more people to arrive to fill up the boat. (Wikipedia: Asian Conical Hat)
However, after waiting about 10 minutes, the man, who turns out to be my boat captain, motions for me to follow him out to the beach, where I get into his boat. There are no other people, it’s just the captain and me.
One of the captain’s friends gives us a shove off into the bay.
As we head into the bay, we pass all sorts of fishing boats anchored in the waters. To the west, I can see Crocodile Hill and its lighthouse.
We pass by a cultured pearl farm in the bay. China has a long and rich history in pearls coming from saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels. Hepu and Behai regions had active marine pearl fisheries as early as the Han dynasty in the 3rd century AD, according to United Nations University | Our World| China’s Pearl Industry: An Indicator of Ecological Stress.
After passing the sprawling pearl farm, the driver takes the boat close to where rough waves are pounding against the volcanic lava cliffs of Crocodile Hill (鳄鱼山景区; ÈYúShānJǐngQū). We can see Chinese people are walking along the edges of Crocodile Hill, which be reached either by walking or by taking a shuttle bus leaving from the Volcanic Geological Museum (¥20/trip). At first, I’m under the impression that the boat captain is going to drop me off at Crocodile Hill to follow the circular walk, which is partially on wooden steps and planks and starts and ends at Crocodile Pharos. However, I soon find I’m mistaken as there is no way to access the rough lava cliffs from the sea that is smashing relentlessly against the rocks.
Apparently the walkway “passes by the Seaview Pavilion, the Statue of Tang Xianzu, a volcanic vent, the Marine Pit, Canggui Cave, the Pirate Cave (Zeilao Cave), the sea arch, the Moon Bay, the Fall-In-Love-On-Weizhou-Island spot, coral sedimentary rocks, the Lover Bridge, the Moon Plaza, and the Sea Pier as well as craters and tree fossils” (WikiTravel: Weizhou).
The only thing I can see is a lighthouse and the walkway on the fringes of the hill, along with some of the lava caves along the shore.
While we are bobbing around in the sea near the cliffs, the captain is yelling over the noise of the wind and waves and making arm motions that look like a volcano erupting. To indicate that I get the general gist of what he’s saying, I nod and smile and mimic a volcanic eruption right back at him!
After being tossed about by the waves for some time, I holler to the captain that I want to go back to the shore. He can hardly hear me over the sound of the wind and the waves crashing against the rocks. He keeps doing the volcanic eruption motions. At this point, I’ve had enough. I really want to go back to shore, so I point dramatically back toward the beach. We must look hilarious to passers-by, with him doing his volcanic eruptions and me motioning frantically toward the shore.
Finally, we’re heading back. We pass by the cultured pearl farm, passenger boats motoring out into the bay, and some pearl divers.
Now that I know we’re heading back, I can relax a bit. I jump back and forth on the boat taking pictures from either side.
The captain deposits me on the shore and I walk up to meet my driver. After hopping into the motor tricycle, the driver takes me to what is obviously a diving center. I see it costs nearly 400 yuan to go diving. I don’t want to do this as I don’t have enough time, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to spend that much money! I shake my head that no, I don’t want to go diving, and the driver grudgingly continues on his way. Next, he takes me to the nearby fishing village and tries to drop me at a nice restaurant. I shake my head, no! I don’t have time to eat a big lunch at a fancy restaurant. My time on Weizhou is limited and I’d just like to stop and grab a quick bite somewhere. Obviously, the driver would get some kind of kick-back if I went diving or ate a fancy and expensive lunch, but he’s not going to get it today with me as a passenger!
The driver shakes his head and takes me next to Sanpo Temple.
Sanpo Temple is also known as Tianhou Temple. “After it collapsed due to landslides, it was rebuilt a few years ago. The former temple was built in 1732 to chase away the evil and bring peace to the island. Local fisherman still come to the temple to pray for good luck, a good catch and a safe homecoming from the sea” (WikiTravel: Weizhou).
I like the dragons on the pillars and the colorful banners inside the temple.
Outside, I find a tree of wishes, or tree of good luck. People are busily putting their wishes, complete with yin and yang symbols, on the tree. According to Wikipedia, yin and yang in Chinese philosophy “describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, connected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.”
Inside the temple are a lot of wise characters lining the walls.
I meet the driver outside the temple and we’re on our way again. We stop at a marker for Weizhou Island.
After a quick stop at the marker, we take off through the banana plantations, which are found beside roads all over the island. Besides seafood, bananas are the most important goods produced on Weizhou.
Our next stop is at Shiluokou (石螺口景区； ShīLuòKǒuJǐngQū) on the western coast of the island. According to WikiTravel: Weizhou, the beach’s “long sand beach, clear water and its coral reefs make it the most famous beach on Weizhou. On its managed beach are deck chairs, cold beverages, seafood BBQ and water sports available.” The beach might be nice on a sunny day, but it seems very sad today.
I don’t see that there is much to do on this beach, as it’s pretty deserted and the weather isn’t nice. I feel like I’m missing the highlights of Weizhou, as some of my colleagues told me there were some wonderful beaches here. I can’t say I’ve seen any truly beautiful beaches. I don’t know how to communicate what I want to see to my driver, and I feel he has an ulterior motive to take me places where he can get a kickback. Then I remember the nice Chinese guy from the ferry who helped me so much and whose phone number I have. I give him a call and try to describe to him that I want to see some of the beautiful beaches here. He suggests that I might want to see the lava beach, called Multicolored/Colorful Beach, on the east coast of the island. He tells me many tourists enjoy this beach. I ask him to explain to my driver that I’d like to go to this beach and that I must be back at the ferry at 2:00 to catch the 3:00 ferry back to Beihai. He explains all of this to my driver, and then we’re off through the banana plantations to the east side of the island. 🙂