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Dongao Island,a pleasant resort
Latest Updated by 2004-06-01 10:26:17
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THE nearly two-hour drive from Shenzhen to Zhuhai was pleasant because well-paved expressways covered most part of the route that connects the two cities. Soon we found ourselves at the Xiangzhou Port in Zhuhai.

We were lucky to have our ferry tickets booked two weeks in advance by the Marine Club, our hotel on Dongao Island. But others who came to try their luck that day were mostly disappointed.

Though three extra ships had been added to the normal two shifts per day from Zhuhai to Dongao Island, they weren't enough to handle all the demanding tourists.

After a 45-minute ride, we finally set foot on Dongao Island. There are only five buses on the island and they take turns carrying visitors. Cars are strictly limited on the island due to environmental concerns.

After a 45-minute wait we finally boarded a bus which took us along a winding avenue to our destination in five minutes --- the Marine Club, allegedly the best hotel on the island.

I have to admit that this was where the best part of my Dongao experience began. The two-star hotel was beyond expectations. With the clear blue sky and vast blue sea as its background, when the three-story hotel jumped into our eyes as we strolled down a downhill path, we all gasped and cried in an unbelieving tone: "Is that where we are going to stay? It's unbelievable!"

The three-story white structure, with arched doors and open corridors, stands at the edge of a cliff. This allows a spectacular sea view from every window of its rooms.

The lobby is actually a gateway linking the front yard to the back yard when the arched wooden doors on both sides are open. A large block of green grassland, following the natural shape of the land, stretches from the back door steps to the cliff's edge.

Huge rocks and short bushes dot the obviously carefully designed garden, with a few white round tables and chairs dotting the green field. As our later exploration revealed, there are hammocks in a small grove on a gentle slope facing the sea, and a winding path beneath the cliff along the seaside will lead you to the biggest beach on the island in a 15-minute walk.

Dongao is only one of dozens of islands that form the island chains surrounding Zhuhai. Measuring 4.62 square kilometers, the island is one of the earliest in Zhuhai that were developed for tourism. Except for the regular water activities like swimming, diving, fishing and surfing, what interested me most was the historical relics.

The island was a historical naval fortress. The remains of an ancient city at the eastern tip of the island are still well preserved. Known as Chong City, the place served as a frontier troop station beginning in 1729. Rusted iron cannons still sit at the top of the city wall, facing a rocky coast and the vast South China Sea. The coast was marked as the spot where British used to discharge smuggled opium in the 1800s. Now the sound of bombs has vanished and troops are gone, but the burnt rocks and military remains still recall those dark days.

The best part is that the journey to Chong City was the picturesque scenery. A stone path winds along the coastline through the port to the eastern tip of the island. Blooming flowers and running brooks greet you from time to time. Though the journey is without any difficulty at all, there are stone tables and chairs set on rocks that allow you to stop and enjoy the splendid view. The whole journey is perfect either for families or lovers.

For those who prefer excitement, climbing hill is another choice. At Honey Tower on a 200-meter-high hill you can look down on the entire island and the nearby water. If that is not exciting enough, locals can also introduce you to an underground world: the tunnels.

Interlaced tunnels built for military use in the past are now a wonderland for visitors. Bold visitors squeeze themselves into the dark and damp tunnels, only to be amazed by the uncertainties and spectacular views that would pop up after climbing up and out from underground.

When the family plan for the May Day holiday turned out to be a three-day trip to a small island near Zhuhai called Dongao Island, frankly speaking I was not excited at all.

After living in a coastal city for nearly 20 years and spending nearly one third of the summer weekends at the beaches and islands around Shenzhen every year, I had few expectations for an overnight seaside stay. Especially during a national holiday when seemingly the entire population of China scrambles to fill in every corner of the country's scenic spots.

But because family harmony is the priority and because I couldn't come up with any better idea, I stifled my protests and squeezed out a smile of approval. The family set out May 3.

Editor: Wings

By: Song Yingwen Source: szdaily
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