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Lingao and its Naze

 

Lingao is one of those places that nobody goes to. The town does not appear to enjoy a particularly good reputation among the Hainanese, although no one will actually say why. We soon found out. It is a relatively poor, backward and dirty county seat with nothing special to recommend it. The streets were charmless and there did not seem to be anything special to eat or buy.

Since we had come to Lingao, however, we were determined to see its sights. Everyone uninimously recommended the Naze of Lingao. We set out for this pride of the citizens of Lingao, expecting to find a spot of great natural beauty. Instead, at the end of a 15-20 minute ride in a motorcycle taxi, we found ourselves looking at a low desultory promontory nudging out from a nondescript shoreline. The place had a few derelict buildings and a monument to the landing of the Communists in 1950, but nothing much else. And you had to pay to get in.

But despite its total lack of sights, Lingao impressed itself on me for another reason. Since nobody ever goes there (especially foreigners), travellers are treated with remarkable friendliness in the streets. I was delighted to find people, both men and women, looking at me in surprise, followed by a ready smile or wave. This is a very agreeable sensation, especially in China. So although we failed to find any sights worth 'doing', the trip to Lingao was memorable in its own special way. In the end, I was glad that I came to Lingao, the little county seat that nobody visits.

 

A view down a street in Lingao. It was as charmless as it looks in the photo.

 

Setting up stalls in the early morning.

 

The main street.

 

The river at Lingao.

And now to the fabulous Naze of Lingao (临高角 Língāo-jiǎo). The name is a fascinating and intriguing one -- possibly the most intriguing part of the entire place. Why the word 'naze' was chosen as the English name is a minor mystery. But the word exists; I looked it up later. It means 'promontory' or 'headland'.

First, some of the sights just before the naze -- a lighthouse and a derelict building.

 

This is the naze itself.

 

Another view of the naze of Lingao.

The Naze of Lingao's main claim to fame is as a 'mini-Normandy'. It is one of the two places where the Red Army forces landed in 1950 in order to liberate the island of Hainan from KMT (Nationalist) rule. The statue below celebrates this landing.

The view below looks back from the Naze of Lingao towards some of the weekend houses along the shore.

We thought we'd missed something, but we only found this out later when we read this description of the Naze of Lingao at the website HNAIR - Feature Product - Fresh Trip (no longer extant):

10 kilometers away from Lingao County, is a naze stretching out to the Qiongzhou Strait. With seawater around the three sides, the top of the naze has a natural rock fencing the waves of sea. The naze divides the sea into two scenes, the west of which is as quiet as a mirror while the other side is surging and gusty with the tempestuous waves. The iron beacon on the naze was an international navigation mark in the Qing Dynasty.

Yes, somehow we managed to miss the iron beacon!

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