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Qizi Bay: The Chess Stones or Qizi-shi

 

Qizi Bay is named after the beautiful pebbles that are found there, the 棋子石 Qízi-shí or Chinese chess stones. Originally the beach was literally covered with them. They can still be found in considerable quantities in some inlets in Dajiao, but they have almost disappeared from the easily-accessible beach at Zhongjiao, where they were once most plentiful. This is caused by the large number of people who take them away. The problem is not so much the casual tourist who takes a few stones as a souvenir (although the effects of this cannot be ruled out); it is the people who come specifically to take away commercial quantities. The stones can be sold for use in fish tanks/home aquariums and in bonsai pots.

These are the famous stones (qizi-shi) of Qizi Bay.
View of pebbles
View of pebbles

 

Could the stones have been formed from these layers in the rocks? (Not being a geologist, this should be taken as a wild guess).
Rock with streak of material through it

 

The stones can still be found in among the cliffs at Dajiao and in a few patches on the beach at Zhongjiao.
Waves washing up onto beach of pebbles
A cove among the cliffs at Dajiao...
A few left on the beach at Zhongjiao
Pebbles on the beach

 

A sign on a cliff at Dajiao forbids people from taking the stones, on pain of being fined...
Sign painted on rock face
But it makes precious little difference. These are just the people we found mining Zhongjiao beach for pebbles in the half an hour that we were there.
A lady, head down, sifting for pebblesA peek into the box of pebbles she's collecting
There was this lady who claimed to be a local with a 'permit'...
And this selection of people who (with the exception of the young man at the bottom) appeared to be here to earn a bit of money.

A man with a plastic petrol tank
Two men with a bucket full of pebbles A man with a box on his shoulder


A young Hainanese fellow with a plastic bag full of pebbles  

The loss of the stones is only a small part of the environmental destruction that has been visited on Qizi Bay.

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