Today we left the ship via tender. Rough seas made it quite an interesting ride, so everyone was happy when it was over.
Nangan Island is one of the four ‘Townships’ of Matsu. The other three Townships (or Islands) are: Beigan Township, Jyuguang Township, and Dongyin Township. (Refer to photo).
I was ready with map in one hand and camera(s) in the other, prepared to make my way on foot so that I can take in everything as I walk. On leaving the terminal though, I saw many busses coming and going. After asking around (everyone speaks Chinese only) I realized these busses are there especially for passengers from the ship(!!) and we’ll have a 4 hour tour around the island. So I contemplated for a while and ended up going with the bus (and I am SO glad I did – it is not very pedestrian friendly everywhere and bigger than I thought). On the bus we had a well-informed tour guide who told us many things about our surroundings and Nangan Township…well that’s what I think might have been the case were I able to understand Chinese:) one lady seemed to understand especially well – lots of questions.
So first we arrived at the Beihai Tunnel. It is said that this tunnel was made to hide the fleet of the local people from pirates coming into the area. The tunnel was carved through granite and fills up with water from the ocean, but has a walkway on the side. You can walk the whole way around, and it’s a nice and cool area (a slight break from the humidity outside). This was truly an amazing thing to see! I wish the photos could capture it better. Next to the Beihai Tunnel is the Dahan Base. The Dahan Stronghold was built in 1975 by men working day and night to finish it. It is located along the coast and helped to control the sea lanes. You can find a tourist information center at this stop (with souvenirs).
Our next stop was the Matsu distillery/brewery. The area where the liqueur is stored is in a tunnel made into the side of a steep hill. Originally it was made during the war times as a storehouse for the military. When that was no longer needed, it was turned into a cellar. Next to the tunnel is the shop where you can watch an informational DVD, and also have a look at all the bottles that have been made on site, and you may purchase or order bottles. Next we took a nice walk through the village to get back to the bus station.
The last stop was at the Queen of Heaven (Tianhou) Temple. This temple is a palace-style structure with elaborately carved columns and painted walls. Many country-wide religious festivals have been held here because it is the most popular temple in Matsu area.
Throughout my day I was met with friendly faces and helpful people. Even thou some struggle with English they’ll do everything they can to help you. After our first stop I asked one gentleman what time the next bus will be around… within seconds I was surrounded by fellow passengers; all arguing (or so it seemed) about my question. So for the next few minutes they figured it out among themselves, with a few shy smiles in my directions as the argument continued. One lady in specific learned my name, and from there on out I was never lost again 😉 she even saved me a seat on the bus each time! I also met a couple from Taiwan that used to live in South Africa. It was so lovely to talk to someone who really knows South Africa (and actually knows where on the world map it is!).
Back at the terminal, the bus company had lunch prepared to all passengers returning from the day out. And after that it was back to the ship with the tender boat. The sea was very rough on our way back and it caused a few nervous glances around. As we neared the dock, there was already another tender boat docked at the ship. This forced us to hover around until that boat could move on… unfortunately this led to a few cases of motion sickness amongst the passengers. My advice – don’t hover around on rough seas in a small boat if you can help it. Fortunately, safely back on board it felt like solid ground beneath our feet, and the sick feelings passed.