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Treasured Islands that you can't miss (2)

(China Daily)

08:29, June 13, 2013

A cycling competition held in Nan'ao attracts nearly 400 people across the country. (Ma Ka /China Daily)

History and modernity


What comes to mind when you think of an island holiday? Sunbathing on the beach, fresh seafood, a dip in the sea? Nan'ao Island near Shantou, a beautiful harbor city in the east of Guangdong province, offers all these plus historical relics dating back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), plus the largest insular wind farm in Asia.

The country's only surviving zongbing office, a title used during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties for the commanding officer of garrison troops in an area, is located at the center of Shen'ao town on the island. Altogether 173 zongbing and deputy zongbing were sent to the island from 1576-1911 to safeguard Guangdong and Fujian provinces and the island of Taiwan.

Now the office serves as a museum outlining the history of Chinese coastal defenses. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the past by touching two weighty old cannons and reading the 23 stone tablets on customs regulations on the walls.

There are two huge 400-year-old banyans standing in front of the office. A statue of Zheng Chenggong (1624-62), a Ming Dynasty general who led the army that put an end to the Dutch occupation of Taiwan, stands beside one of the trees, where he gave a rousing speech to recruit soldiers.

Cycling is the best way to explore the island. Nan'ao leans on mountains and faces the sea, which makes it pleasant to cycle on the mountain roads amid a cool sea breeze.

As you cycle up Guolao Mountain, you'll see the wind farm. More than 100 60-meter-high windmills stand around the top of the mountain, their giant blades slowly turning.

The wind farm is also a wonderland for astronomy lovers, as you can observe lunar craters and other astronomical delights through the high-powered telescopes in the farm's tourist area.

Rent a bike in Shantou before you board a ferry for Nan'ao Island, for there are few bike rental sites on the island.

After a sweaty cycling trip across the island, nothing is cooler than jumping into the sea. Qing'ao Bay is one of Guangdong's two A-class bathing sites, known for its soft sand and clean water. Camping on the beach and spending a night listening to the waves will make your vacation complete.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiQian、Ye Xin)

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