Nestled on the southwest coast of China’s mainland, Guangxi Province to be exact, is the beachside city of Beihai. Visitors to Beihai are plentiful. Most come for the fresh seafood and the clean air, and the laid-back if I close my eyes tightly I could be somewhere in Thailand feel. All over Guangxi Province one finds a different pace to life and visitors to Beihai are no exception preferring to follow a basic routine of spending their days lounging around Silver beach and then wandering the food markets in the evening. However, should you need a break from the beach routine follow the bayside road a little until you find Dianbailiao harbour and what appears to be a vast shipping graveyard. Hidden here is a small fishing village of ageing trawlers and salty fishing folk.
The deep waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (Beibu gulf to the Chinese) deliver mountains of blue swimmer crabs hauled in by the basket load and captured in spidery netting by fishing trawlers. The morning and afternoon catches brings in plenty of local buyers in the know eager for some bargain seafood. The enterprise provides work for whole families to pry free and separate and its not uncommon to find generations of Chinese working side by side including small children curiously lending a hand.
But if you are not in the market for some fresh produce, the old boats are a real attraction here. With bleached boards visibly peeling in the sunlight and components rusting in the salt water laced breeze, they may lack sea worthiness but they make up for it in faded charm and in local ingenuity displayed in a host of makeshift repairs. The fishermen, sinewy and burnt brown by the tropic of cancer sunshine, look over them with pride while casting one eye to the shoreline, longing to be out fishing the rough blue seas of Beibu Gulf.