Waking up on Shameen (Shamian) Island almost made us forget that we were traveling in China. This unique urban sandbank is a historical gem in the City of Guangzhou. Shameen (Shamian) Island, which literally means “sand surface island” in Chinese, was a foreign concession in the 19th century, where expats from the West lived and worked. About a quarter of the island was the French Concession, while the British occupied the rest. Other than trading companies, Shameen Island was also populated with foreign consulates. In the political and social turmoil of the 20th century, Shameen Island had gone through a number of transformations. At one point, churches and mansions were converted into factories during early years of the Communist rule. Today, most of the foreign establishments were gone, and many buildings have been restored to their former glory. While factories no longer existed on the island, hotels, cafes and government offices have found their way onto Shameen Island.
For us, Shameen Island was our temporary base in Guangzhou. Our hotel was housed in a renovated old mansion erected during the concession era. Comparing to the busy and crowded urban areas of Guangzhou, Shameen Island seemed like a quiet enclave of Western mansions, shaded boulevard and century-old trees. A number of Western architectural styles could be found on the island, such as Gothic and Neoclassical. Vehicular access to the island was controlled, thus maintaining the relatively clean air and peaceful atmosphere. In the morning, joggers and bikers took onto the central boulevard for exercise. Before heading out to the downtown, we had a quick stroll at Shameen to absorb the tranquil atmosphere and warm morning sunshine.
Shameen Island is bounded four sides by canal and the Pearl River.
The island could only accessed by bridges.
Vehicles are restricted to only the perimeter of the island.
Government departments had moved into some of the old mansions at Shameen.
Pleasant balconies and terraces could be seen allover at Shameen.
Statues could be found at many pedestrian nodes at Shameen.
Neoclassical building and drying laundry created an interesting picture of living at Shameen.
Morning joggers exercised at the tree-shaded boulevard.
Shameen is popular for bikers and pedestrians.
Part of the central boulevard has been converted into a running track.
Badminton was also a popular game seen at Shameen.
Badminton at Shameen.
Elderly people also wandered around Shameen in early morning.
Other than a place for physical exercises, Shameen has also become a popular spot for portrait photography.
Bank of Taiwan, closed in 1949 when the Kuomintang government moved to Taiwan after its defeat by the Communists.Front door of the Bank of Taiwan.
Former Canton Club is one of the most impressive building mansions.
The former Asiatic Petroleum Building and German Consulate.
A number of Western mansions had been transformed into cafes and restaurants.
* * *
All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou
1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China