My friend Lily and I went back to Gulangyu to see the Piano Museum.
We are both piano enthusiasts and she used to be a tour guide on the island, so it was a satisfying trip.
Gulangyu is truly a delightful mix of the old....
...and the arty modern.
There is a cosy English-themed cafe overladen with tea and majestically old books. Very hard to leave that one.
There is also an old post-office that has been converted to a post office 'for the future'. It's a charming idea where customers can pay a certain amount to write themselves a note that will be kept for 1, 5 or 10 years. After the specified time, they can come back and open their box and see their memories.
The piano museum is in a section of the island that requires paid entry. It was set up by Mr Hu Youyi, an Australian Overseas Chinese who chose to display his impressive collection of pianos in his ancestral home, Gulangyu. The museum is situated in the most serenely beautiful area of the island, high enough to be overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately photos are prohibited in the museum but I think they are hardly necessary: one cannot forget such a place.
The museum has wooden floors and panels, and the floor-to-ceiling windows are framed by thick mahogany curtains. Pleasing reflections are created by the sun shining on the surrounding pond. The pianos themselves are a treasure - dating back centuries, and ranging from harpsichords and upright pianos to Broadwood Grands. The old pianos had tell-tale candle holders by the music stands. We were very fortunate to arrive just as one of the museum keepers sat down to perform a beautiful piece written about Gulangyu. Many musicians were born on the island apparently, and write about how homesick they are for it when they are abroad. The whole place is truly a pianist's sanctuary.
There is a curious rock formation that has many caves that you can walk through - 12 are named after the 12 zodiac animals
There's something intrinsically soothing in the sight of the ocean in the late sun.