Enjoying the Sea at Shengsi

A gentle breeze cools your brow, waves lap softly at your feet and wonderfully shaped rocks are scattered on the shore.

You are enjoying some of the beautiful scenery at Shengsi in the summer sun.

Shengsi is not to be missed by anyone needing a break from the pressures of city life.

Dabei Mountain

In Zhejiang Province, Sheng Si is known as the "Fairyland of the Sea", with more than 400 islands dotting the ocean for sightseeing expeditions and providing a variety of seafood to satisfy any appetite.

Shengsi is only 31 sea miles from Shanghai and visitors can go there by sea or by road. Dabei Mountain in the east of Shengsi Island is the best spot to get a bird's-eye view of your new surroundings. Locals say you can appreciate all the different aspects of the sea the whole year round - mists in spring, a glittering seascape in summer, the huge tide in autumn, and lines of never-ending waves and sea spray in winter.

On South Changtu Beach, there is plenty of scope for physical activity in water-sports such as surfing, sailing, rowing, sand-bath and other beach entertainments to energize the body and mind.

Rich culture

Shengsi is the only nationally ranked scenic locality of islands in China and the region has a long history dating back to the Neolithic Age when the islands were already occupied. Stone axes, shards of pottery, antlers and dwelling sites discovered on the islands indicate the establishment of ancient communities where fishing was the prevailing industry as early as the Spring Autumn and Warring Period (770 - 221 BC).

Located at the "East Gate" of the country, the Shengsi Islands were also the site of a great deal of armed conflict leaving today's visitors with a great deal of precious cultural historic heritage.

In the Palace of Queen of the Heaven at Gouqi Island, the statue of the Goddess Matsu of the Sea was worshipped by local fishmen's families, who burned sticks and prayed devoutly for the safety of family members fishing out in the vastness of the sea.

Seafood delights

Crowds of people still flood into the seafood market with its great variety of fresh sea produce.

Some of the sights on view will amaze your eyes and all around are the voices of hawkers battling to catch your attention.

The visitor can strike a real bargain in the market. Or you can enjoy hot dishes in a local restaurant where the flavour of the cooking can beat that of the top hotels in Shanghai - and at a much lower price.

And then there are the night sights of Shengsi. Lights on the fishing boats dance with the stars in the sky and their reflections in the ripples of the sea make this a true "Fairyland of the Sea".

Travel tips

Visitors are advised to go to Shengsi by water. Boats leave Shanghai Shiliupu Wharf at 8:30am, 9:45am and 12:45am every day for the three-hour direct trip with the fare around 80 yuan (US$10) per person.

Tickets should be purchased at No. 1 Jinling Donglu two days before leaving. Return trips to Shanghai depart Shengsi at 9:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.

Caiyun Town at Shengsi provides hotels with top, medium and lower grade services, with the standard room priced between 100 and 130 yuan (US$12-16), some with a discount of at least 20 per cent. You can also stay at family hotels at Jihu Lake, with the standard room of 80 yuan (US$9) or so, where you are closer to the sea.

( Shanghai Star August 22, 2002)