As a place of residence for westerners during Xiamen’s colonial time in the early 20th century, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and its China’s one-and-only piano museum.
When Yik and I were wandering around in Gulangyu (鼓浪嶼), we met Mrs. Yeung, a very nice native Gulangyu lady in her 70’s. The lady chatted with us for like half an hour, sharing her childhood memories of Gulangyu, as well as her feelings and thoughts of the island these days.
She told us how Gulangyu has always been a quiet little island with low population and no noise nor air pollution generated by cars (car and motorbike are banned from the island). In fact, nowadays, many natives have moved out to the big cities and left many houses empty in Gulangyu, making the island quieter than ever before (aside from the touristy spots).
Gulangyu is given the nicknames of “Piano Island” or “The Town of Pianos” (鋼琴之鄉). I remember I read it somewhere describing the Gulangyu back in the early 1900’s as an island filled with the sound of piano, where one could always find someone playing a piano nearby. I used to think that it’s just a poetic way of describing this romantic island until I jokingly mentioned it to Mrs. Yeung.
Mrs. Yeung said that, indeed, it’s true that back in the early 1900’s, the sound of piano could be heard easily when one was walking along the streets, especially since Gulongyu has always been a quiet little town. But instead of beautiful music, it might be some not-so-pleasant noises made by someone who was just starting to learn the instrument.
Ya, true. It’s nothing romantic when the kid of next door keeps banging on the piano keys like crazy at 7 on a Sunday morning. 😯
Check out this post – A Day in Colonial Gulangyu – if you want to get some descriptive details of the look, the feel, and some background history of Gulangyu.