Déjà vu Dapeng Islet
Embodied in the silent beam of light that penetrates the all-emerging darkness of the sea is the natives’ good nature and their faith that the fear of God that drives man to do good works will never fail.
The encounter with the islet of Dapeng is like the chance discovery of the Peach Blossom Land fictionalized by the Jin poet Tao Yuanming. In the poet’s daydream, upon leaving the fisherman was informed that it was worthless to reveal this experience to the world. He marked his route on his way out with signs and later divulged the existence of this idyllic haven to others who tried to find it repeatedly but in vain. The only difference between Dapeng and the romanticist’s Xanadu is that the ethereal utopia he recounted was his unfulfilled dream of an ideal existence in harmony with nature, but the islet is not a mirage but real; and if I ever want to come back to this idyllic haven again I know I don’t need to be sneaky and there is always a ferry to take. Only three minutes’ ferry away from the Ligang Wharf, where tourists can buy the 0.5 yuan ferry ticket at a petite ticketing office, the islet feels just close enough to touch from the Jintang proper. For the aborigines that can be counted on one’s fingers and are mostly oldies, the ferry service available every half-hour each daily is the only reminder of the hustle and bustle beyond the Dapeng Hill. Separated by a crescent body of water are two worlds running parallel to each other. Setting foot in the islet feels like walking haphazardly into the previous life of Jintang - an unspoiled wilderness of great beauty made up entirely of all kinds of nondescript blossoming trees, crowing cocks and quacking ducklings. Everything seems to be a freeze-frame from a hundred years ago.The aborigines are kind and friendly, and are always happily surprised to see visitors, as if unaware of the outside world for centuries. The life here is primitive and tranquil. Doors are left unbolted at night. Honesty prevails throughout.The islanders had been collecting rainwater as the sole source of living water supply until three years ago when the islet joined the tap
water network of Jintang.
Originally composed of five natural villages, this place off the beaten path hosts a fantastic view of well-conserved Qing-style civil dwellings rarely seen anywhere else in China’s coastal regions.The sheer size of the houses, one of which is a sprawl of more than 2,000 sq.m, is compelling evidence indicating how rich the original owners were. No one knows how their ancestors settled down in this tiny place, but it is easy to reach the conclusion that the island had served as a haven amidst the civil unrest of successive reigns and dynasties. In its heyday during the Song and Yuan dynasties, the islet was the permanent residence of a good many boat merchants and influential landlords.The opulence of Dapeng reached its pinnacle in the Ming and Qing times when people who had seen the world and were rolling in wealth brought in exotic architectural elements into the islet, leading to the islet’s ‘golden period’ reputed as the ‘little Hong Kong’.
In the blueprint of Jintang, the other side of the Dapeng Hill promises to be the prime mover of the country tourism innovation of the island. For the indigenous people, however, living for today is much more important than what may happen tomorrow.
“Do come back earlier another time,” a hospitable woman peeped her head through the door of a grocery store,“so that you can take a look at the lighthouse,” she recommended the island’s ‘crown jewel’ earnestly.
Ranking amongst the “top 10” in Zhoushan, Libiaozui Lighthouse was built by Yang Xidong and his son in the late Qing Dynasty from their own pocket. Embodied in the silent beam of light that penetrates the all-emerging darkness of the sea is the natives’ good nature and their faith that the fear of God that drives man to do good works will never fail.