Taohua (Peach Plossom) Island
Southeast of Zhoushan Island, Taohua Island is 42 square kilometers. It is famous for its stones, bearing the patterns of peach branches and blossoms, from which the island got its name. Taohua is the most botanically diversified island in Zhejiang Province’s coastal area, with nearly 600 species of trees and plants, including oranges, orchids and narcissus – and now peach trees.
The island’s name conjures up images of peach trees, their fruit a symbol of long life, their blossoms a symbol of love. But in fact, the island took its ancient name not from real peach trees but from natural black patterns on stones that resemble delicate branches of peach trees. These are fossil-like imprints of ancient branches, though folk legend attributes the black patterns to the ink accidentally spilled by a hermit named Anqi, who was practicing alchemy on the island in the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC). The stones appear throughout the island and locals say that touching them will bring luck in seeking love, because in Chinese lexicology, the words “peach blossom” (taohua) suggest romantic encounters. Real peach trees have been planted on the island only in recent years.
Most Chinese learn of Taohua Island from a contemporary novel of martial arts, “The Eagle-Shooting Heroes,” by Louis Cha (Jin Yong). Although the real Taohua Island is by no means Cha’s fictitious island in the novel, it served as the archetype.
No wonder the island has been the most popular site for shooting movies and TV series based on Cha’s novels. Four Chinese TV serials - “The Eagle-Shooting Heroes,” “Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils,” “The Return of the Condor Heroes” and “Duke of Mount Deer” - were filmed on the island.
Sets based on the novels were built on the island and have formed a theme park, the “City of the Eagle-Shooting Heroes,” licensed by Cha whose calligraphy is to be found everywhere. The site is charming and peaceful; the buildings, shaded by ancient trees, rise into the hills. The rooms of some beloved characters in the novels are tastefully furnished.
Starting from 2004, the Jin Yong Martial Arts (Wuxia) Culture Festival is held here every other year around summer. It offers dazzling martial arts performances and competitions, all thrilling for Cha’s fans.
Admission: 45 yuan
Tel: +86 0580 6063306
The City of the Eagle Shooting Heroes
Admission: 50 yuan
Tel: +86 0580 6062111
Peach Blossom Village and rock formations
Admission: 45 yuan
Tel: +86 0580 6063750
However, for those who enjoy natural beauty, Taohua Island is also a must. It has the highest peak in the archipelago. Anqi Peak, 540 meters high, is named after the ancient hermit who spilled the ink that left the patterns. You can climb the peak for a magnificent view of the East Sea and surrounding islands.
The peak is also closely related to local dragon culture. You can hear legends (in Chinese) of the Dragon King and especially the little Dragon Maid who practiced her magic skills for the good of the people. The little Dragon Maid, who was really a dragon, prayed for rain during a drought, and the rains came; she calmed the seas and helped the fishermen. Her good deeds touched the people and so they built a palace for her.
Every year, fishermen and other islanders go to worship the little Dragon Maid in the palace, praying that she will bring them good luck and happiness.
Climbing the Jinlin Pagoda at the foot of the mountain is a worthwhile challenge: it is 38 meters high, with seven floors.
Another beautiful natural site lies on the east coast where there is both a golden, virtually unspoiled beach and a rocky coastline of boulders and Buddhist legends.
Walking on the plank pathway down near the sea, you can enjoy great views of a bay with the clearest water in the area and fanciful rock formations, such as the lion and sea turtle – at low tide you can see both the turtle’s head and its shell, at high tide, just the head. There is a cave with a Guan Yin legend and if you use your imagination you just glimpse her slim shape, her palms together. The legend goes that when Guan Yin was a mortal (Princess Miaoshan) she was bathing in the sea and was seen by a young man. She was so ashamed that she fled into the nearby cave and hid.
Taohuayuan Hotel ★★
Tel: +86 0580 6062666/6062255
Cottages at Peach Blossom Village
Tel: +86 0580 6063750
Taohua Island Service Center
Fishing inn reservation service:
+86 0580 6063668
Not far away is a smooth, naturally formed rock ball, churned by the waves and sand over millions of years. It is called the “East Sea Pearl” – dragons are usually depicted chasing a flaming pearl. Four red characters label the stone pearl. Most visitors touch it for luck and to experience the power of nature.
Just a stone’s throw from these geological wonders is a holiday camp named Peach Blossom Village, where you can dine in a renovated Leisure Hamlet and spend the night in well-made wooden cottages, set back among the trees, facing a lawn.
You can read one of Cha’s novels in a cottage named after one of his heroes, smell the sweet timber and the sea, listening to the bells from nearby Baique Convent, said to be the place where Guan Yin first became a nun. This makes for an enchanting experience.
IF YOU GO
Duntou Wharf at Shenjiemen - Taohua Island Wharf
8:00 am - 2:30 pm
Price: 21.5 yuan
7:20 am - 4:00 pm
Price: 14.5 yuan
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