Elegant French and British colonial buildings abound. Manicured garden, European street lamps, artistic benches and patterned cobblestone courtyard outspread under shady old tress. Statues of a photographer, a group of children with their teacher, two pairs of Asian and European children, a fat lady, a family dressed in a distinctively British style and a violinist are some of the bronze statues which embellish this small island. Shamian Island – a sandbank small island in Guangzhou – is a perfect place for locals and foreign visitors to respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
An unlikely haven in the country’s third largest city where more than 12 million people dwell, Shamian Island was originally administered by the British and the French between the 18th to the 19th century as an important trading port. Still retaining its past glory – reflected in the well-maintained European colonial buildings, today Shamian Island is occupied by some upscale restaurants and hotels, luring visitors like us.
Having only one night in the city, I decide to skip Guangzhou’s downtown altogether and opt for relaxing in this island. After all, Shamian Island is the place I really need after a challenging hike to Lao Zhai Hill, six-hour hike from the village of Yangdi to Xingping, and another challenging trip to Dazhai to see Longji Rice Terraces for the last few days. Shamian Island is indeed a proper place for a tranquil conclusion of my trip to Southern China.