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July 29, 2017

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Dongjyu Islet preserves 500-year-old historical landmark

During my four-day trip to Matzu (馬祖), I spent one day on Dongjyu (東莒) Islet. On a sunny morning in June, I went to Fuao (福澳) Port in Nangan (南竿) and took a white shuttle-boat to Dongjyu Islet. The shuttle-boat from Nangan to Dongjyu runs at 7:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Of the few people on the boat, soldiers were the main passengers. Because Dongjyu Islet is still in the front line against communist China, soldiers are the main inhabitants of the islet.

Dongjyu Islet is 2.63 square kilometers and is at the southernmost end of the Matzu archipelago. I took an approximately 45-minute-long sea journey from Fuao Port to Mengao (猛澳) Port in Dongjyu. The boat ticket costs NT$140.

There is only one around-islet highway on Dongjyu. To circle the islet, it only takes a half-day walk. Most visitors like to rent a motorbike to travel the islet. You cannot stay overnight at a hotel on the islet, you can only stay at someone's home.

There are two villages on Dongjyu - Fujheng (福正) and Tapu (大埔). Due to the sharp reduction of the number of soldiers, Dongjyu's inhabitants have moved to Taiwan and other places to live. As of now, there are almost 200 civilian inhabitants on the island.

The Jyuguang (莒光) islets, including Dongjyu and Sijyu (西莒) islets, were once known as "Eastern Dog" and "Western Dog." The name was derived from the island's supposed resemblance to a crouching dog in the outlet of Min River, and named "Jyuguang" after "Remembering the Spirit of Jyu."

The Mengao Port is the only entrance and exit in Dongjyu. The fine sands are spread out at the port, where warships, passenger vessels and cargo ships are anchored.

Mengao Port is situated southeast of Dongjyu islet, with craggy reefs and walls around the port that reveal the extraordinary nature of the port.

Most of the islet is now open to tourists, except several military bases that, in fact, do not cause any inconvenience to tourists who visit the islet.

In addition to beautiful seashore views, there are two major historical landmarks, the Dongjyu lighthouse and Dapu Stone-Carving.

Dongjyu Lighthouse

If you drive from Mengao Port, along the around-islet highway to Fujheng village, you may see a white, cylindrical, granite lighthouse - the Dongjyu Lighthouse lies on a northeastern hilltop of Dongjyu, also known as the "White-hair town."

The Dongjyu Lighthouse was built during the Ching (清) Dynasty (1871-1872) by Robert Hart and David M. Henderson of Britain for the safety of trading ships entering into Fuchou (福州) City, the capital of Fukien (福建) Province. The Ching Dynasty lost in the Opium War with Britain and was forced to open six ports to English trade ships, with the Fuchou as one of them.

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