Listening to Kulangsu (Ting Gulangyu 听鼓浪屿)

My first introduction to Kulangsu was “Gulangyu Zhi Bo,” played by Jing. I had heard it at least fifty times before I ever saw Kulangsu, and before I even knew this was originally a song with words. It was my favorite song on Jing’s CD, which I played obsessively in my car when she was away in the first month after we met, but before I first visited her hometown.

When I finally arrived on Kulangsu, its magic was something even greater than could be conveyed by music. The first thing I noticed was the civilization of trees. They are village elders here. If you were an old tree, there must be nowhere in the world where you would live a better life than on Kulangsu. In most of the developed world, trees are demolished to make way for highways and skyscrapers. Here, trees are exalted. The coconut palms are asked to pose for pictures with hundreds of happy couples each day, and the banyan trees reward their neighbors’ respect with the daily gift of shade.

After the typhoon hit Xiamen and Kulangsu in September 2016, just before the UNESCO inspector was due to visit the island for consideration as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, the islanders worked day and night to rescue the fallen trees and plant new ones.

When the islanders make improvements, they seek not to impress with flash, but simply to shine new light on the natural and architectural beauty that is already everywhere. And nowhere is it more everywhere than on Kulangsu, the musical island, where babies still fall asleep to the sounds of crickets, children still walk to school, and grownups still play CDs.

——Robin Goldstein, 2016

我对鼓浪屿的第一印象,是这位中提琴家演奏的

《鼓浪屿之波》。这首曲子我听了不下 50 遍,之前,

我甚至不知道这首曲子是有歌词的。

这是杨璟的 CD 里我最喜欢的曲子。

我们认识后,她不在我身边的第一个月时间里,

我经常重复地听这首曲子,

之后,我才第一次来到了她的家乡——鼓浪屿。

当我第一次登上鼓浪屿,

这种感受比音乐传递给我的更加强烈。

我最先注意到的是岛上的树文化。

树是这里的长者。如果你是一棵树,

那么你在鼓浪屿一定过着全世界最舒适的生活。

在大多数发达国家,树木被砍伐,

被做成高速公路和摩天大楼。

但是,在鼓浪屿,树是神圣的。

椰树是每天上百对恋人拍婚纱照的背景

榕树荫下是居民纳凉的好去处。

在 9 月中旬,台风正面袭击了厦门及鼓浪屿岛后,

岛屿上的人们日以继日地进行灾后重建工作,

抢救倒下的大树并重新种植。当鼓浪屿人想要做出改进,

他们不是简单的用新的替代旧的,

而是在原有的自然景观和建筑美景的基础上进行改良。

在鼓浪屿,这个音乐之岛,到处都是美,

世界上没有任何一个地方和它一样:

婴儿依然在蟋蟀声中入眠,小朋友依然走路上学,

大人们依然听着CD。

——乐宾写于2016

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