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Weizhou Island a volcanic wonder

By Liu Xiangrui | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-17 10:40

Bougainvillea spectabilis, flowering shrubs that are sometimes called "paper flowers", cluster along the path flaunting breathtaking hues of purple and pink under the sun.

Coming down from the mountain, we proceed on a planked path along a beach of red and black rocks, and circle round the head of the "crocodile". The path leads to a number of scenic spots, such as Moon Bay and the actual crater.

About 15,000 residents, mostly fishermen, still live in 53 villages on the lush, green island. Large fields of bananas can be seen by the roads.

Weizhou Island a volcanic wonder

Sunshine sanctuary 

Offshore, there is a bounty of coral and other treasures from the sea.

Many villagers sell shells, coral and locally harvested fruits to tourists.

Restaurants offer tasty seafood cooked in the regional style. Weizhou Island delicacies include its famous pork, from pigs that are raised on bananas.

Although we missed the pork on this trip, we did have the chance to enjoy the fresh seafood.

In the famous Sangu Temple, elderly villagers gather under the shade of a giant tree with branches tied with hundred of fluttering red prayer ribbons.

Local fishermen, who believe in Sangu, or Goddess Mazu of the Sea, host grand celebrations every year on her birthday.

In addition to the Chinese temple, a French-style Catholic church has stood on the island for about 150 years.

Built by French priests, it took 10 years to finish and it used to house a monastery, a school, a hospital and a kindergarten.

What's unusual about the church is the material used. Volcanic and coral rocks are held together by a traditional cement made from sticky rice, brown sugar and egg white. The church's extraordinary walls and resonating bell testify to its history.

In fact, it still plays an important role nowadays, as many nearby villagers remain Catholics. The church is packed with worshippers on weekends. On Easter, Christmas and other important feast days, local followers will gather here for services.

In Shengtang village nearby, houses reflect a slight Gothic style. The islanders build their houses with corals, which make them cool in summer and warm in winter.

And to cap a wonderful day out enjoying the sights, we head to the beautiful Five Color Beach as sunset arrives, and stretch out on deck chairs for a spectacular sunset as a final farewell to the day, and the island.

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