Gulangyu (Gǔlàngyǔ, 鼓浪屿), literally "Drum Wave Islet," is located several hundred meters off Xiamen's southwestern tip and was the city's pre-World War II foreign concession. Christian missionaries and foreign diplomats established homes, schools and consulates on the islet in the 1920's. The study of piano proved more popular with the locals than the study of religion and in the following decades, Gulangyu churned out some of China's most skilled musicians. The history of this period is well documented in the Piano Museum.
Nowadays, the islet is a popular tourist destination but still reachable only by ferry. The double-decker ferry can be taken from the terminal at the end of Zhongshan Road (Zhōngshān Lù, 中山路). After disembarking, you'll be met by hordes of pearl-pedaling locals and golf buggy drivers. A very short walk from the ferry terminal will bring you to Underwater World Xiamen, whose entrance is well marked with the sculpture of a giant bronze octopus.
Gulangyu's car-free streets wind about through sleepy seaside villages and are an absolute pleasure to spend an afternoon ambling about. Don't let your guard down though—the streets may be free of cars, but near-silent golf buggies zoom around ferrying tourists between scenic spots (RMB 10 from spot to spot or RMB 50 for the whole islet).
There are a few spots scattered about worth a look. One you'll probably notice even before reaching the islet, it the large Statue of Zheng Chenggong, a Ming Dynasty hero, located on the northern side of Sunlight Rock (Rìguāng Yán, 日光岩). The life and exploits Zheng Chenggong, perhaps better know as Koxinga, are further commemorated in the Memorial Hall of Zheng Chenggong at the foot of Sunlight Rock.
Don't forget to stop and listen for the sound of Drum Rock, for which this islet is named. When a wave crashes into the hole in Drum Rock, the resulting sound is comparable to the single beat of a bass drum and can be heard from quite a distance away.
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