Visitors to Tangshan Bay cavort in the white sands of Bodhi Island. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.COM/Ma Xiaoying]
W. Wang1 2 3 4 5 6 7
It's not uncommon for Beijingers to feel a bit suffocated by the endless urban landscape, so it's good to know that the open sea is only few hours away. Most Beijing weekenders tend to flood places like Beihai, but Tangshan Bay International Tourist Island is another option which offers beautiful open spaces and more of a "resort" feeling, for those who want it.
Tangshan Bay, is actually a group of several smaller islands, and a chunk of mainland coast. The area can accommodate thousands of tourists, and is rapidly developing to accommodate more.
However, the feeling at present is still impressively serene. Most of the accommodations are spread out across large areas, many in independent cabins.
Moon Island offers some unique housing in the form of tiny Dutch style cabins, which are just big enough for a little washroom and a cosy bed for two. The 12 square kilometer island is geared toward lovers, and many young couples can surely appreciate the inexpensive accommodation offered by said cabins. For those with a bit more cash to throw around, there are plenty of more spacious options also available.
Jinsha Island is quick boat ride to the west, a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of the beach. Large sections of its coast are covered in undulating yellow sands. In addition to some high end accommodations, the island also has a club house replete with swimming pools, and plenty of lounge chairs to soak up some rays.
Bodhi Island (actually a small peninsula) is unique for its spiritual leanings. At the rear of the Bodhi Temple, you can find Shelidan Hall which has survived for over a century. Unfortunately, the Buddhas held within it didn't escape the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, as each and every Buddha's face has been crudely smashed off. Today they stand as a somber testament to the ebb and flow of history. Around Shelidian Hall, a series of other Buddhist buildings were constructed, including the Buddhist Light Mansion and the sculpture of the All Directions Buddha. A Bodhi forest has also been planted, commemorating the moment that Siddhartha Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the tree. A series of pleasant wooden walkways wind their way through the park. The area is pleasant enough, though it's virtually all newly constructed. It may seem like it was designed more for tourists than worshippers, but it is possible to spot a few monks loitering in the vicinity.
In addition to the Bodhi Forest, other natural areas of Bodhi Island are also highlights. There is a wonderful wide open desert of white sand to explore. Visitors can enjoy also cover long stretches of open coast during a brisk jog or a leisurely stroll.
Until next spring though, visitors won't need to bring their bikinis along. But for the chillier months ahead, you can be assured to find a serenity that doesn't exist in China's oversized cities.
The islands and peninsula are all refreshingly free of cars; only electric tourist carts cruise between the onsite destinations and guest lodgings. It's easy to imagine a future where Tangshan Bay is bustling with families and couples seeking some R&R. But it is the opinion of this reporter that Tangshan Bay is all the more enjoyable as it is today.