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Arcade Street, the enduring poem about the land of Hainan

24 Mar, 2022

Arcade Street, the enduring poem about the land of Hainan

Years flow through the arcade buildings, testament to days gone by. After a hundred years, the old arcade street is an enduring poem engraved on the land of Hainan.

Get to know this fascinating area, full of historic mystery. Walk through the arcade, discovered it charm and explore the past behind doors and windows.

When talking about the Old Arcade Street, Changdi Road, Deshengsha Road, Boai North Road, Zhongshan Road, and Xinhua Road are already impressed in people's hearts. Streets of arcades form a magnificent complex.

In 1894, the earliest arcade was built in Sipailou block along Boai North Road. In the early Ming Dynasty, the city wall of Haikou guardhouse was created.  

The high city wall restricted the development of the city and also affected the expansion of the scale of the arcade.

In 1924, under the leader of Deng Benyin, the then top chief executive of Hainan, Haikou vigorously developed infrastructure construction, expanded roads and demolished city walls.

The stone from the demolition of the city wall was built into a long embankment, and the Changti road was born; the Street in front of the original Tianfei Temple was expanded and renamed Zhongshan Road; the original street outside the west gate along the city wall was expanded into today's Xinhua North Road and Xinhua South Road; the North-South Street in the original city was expanded to Boai Road, and the east-west direction was expanded to Xinmin East-West Road.

From 1924 to 1936, the construction of arcades was the most vigorous stage, and there was a saying that "one arcade is built every two days on average.”

The formation of urban roads, the prosperity of coastal trade, and the continuous improvement of urban functions have further improved Haikou City and made it a town of considerable scale. Haikou was where merchants gathered and foreign consulates and Nanyang shops stood at the forefront of Chinese civilization, innovation and economic exchanges.

The arcade area was the most lively area in Haikou at that time, and it also became an important birthplace of the city.

The streets cover an area of about two square kilometres and more than 600 arcade buildings with a total length of 4.4 kilometres are concentrated on 12 streets.

Arcade Old Street was awarded the top ten title of  "Famous Streets of Chinese History and Culture" in 2009 for its huge scale, well-preserved buildings, full of Chinese and Western characteristics.

How can the European arcade buildings, originating in the Mediterranean region of Greece, have be connected to the distant Hainan Island of China?

This history starts with "going to the South China Sea". In the late Qing Dynasty, the "Tianjin Treaty" was signed, and Haikou became one of the top ten ports open to the outside world at that time. The development of the arcade block was closely related to maritime trade and opening to the outside world.

At that time, shipping routes could reach Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Saigon, Haiphong, as well as Hong Kong, Xiamen, Taiwan, Guangzhou, Beihai and other regions. Merchants and laborers active in Southeast Asia and the coastal areas of the mainland naturally became the carrier of Nanyang culture.

The Parthenon, Greece, is the original appearance of the arcade building. The developed commercial civilization of Greece gave birth to the architectural style of arcades.

With the rule of the colonies, the British brought the architectural style to Southeast Asia and India. Columns have evolved into square columns, and the walls are embellished with carvings.

Under the influence of European culture, Southeast Asian architecture gradually presents a combination of Chinese and Western styles. In the middle and late 19th century, a large number of Hainanese went to Southeast Asia to make a living, that is, "going to the South Seas".

This architectural style was brought back to Hainan by the Nanyang tourists, and the Haikou arcade complex was born, developed and prospered. Today, the large-scale and graceful arcade building complex is a vivid footnote for Hainanese to bravely venture into the South Seas and return to their hometown.

Around 1920, the waters around Shuixiangkou were open, and merchant ships could arrive directly. At that time, Shuixiangkou Street was the most prosperous wharf in the old city of Haikou. For a time, political and business celebrities built buildings and businesses here.

The arcades, which are imported from Nanyang, have similarities with "Chinatown" in Singapore and the buildings in Penang, Malaysia. Although there are high and low buildings, for the convenience of life, the gap is generally no more than two or three floors. Later, in order to protect the authenticity of history and culture, the arcade was not heightened.

(Don’t understand this text) Long tube house, the special form of arcade from century-old. When the arcades were built in the last century, the pavement on the street could be described as an inch of land cost a lot of money. Due to the limitation of the floor space, we had to choose to narrow the front of the pavement and increase the length of the interior to expand the interior area. There are generally one or two patios in the long tube house to solve the problems of ventilation and lighting.

The seamlessly connected arcade walls reveal the peaceful and harmonious neighbourhood relationship, as well as the fighting spirit of unity and cooperation among the people of Hainan. The details reveal the different aesthetics of the homeowners and show the local customs and customs of Hainan.

The first characteristic column of the arcade building combines European characteristics with the flavour of Southeast Asia; rectangular, triangular, horseshoe, bow...

The window lintels, of various shapes, reveal the wisdom of craftsmen everywhere. The top of the arcade façade features a perforated parapet, reducing the wind with the help of architectural wisdom, and forms a beautiful wavy skyline with "horizontal three-section symmetry.”

The long and narrow wooden shutters are varied and time passes through gaps between the windows, with the old face of the past reappearing.

The grey sculpture art that prevailed in the Ming and Qing Dynasties is an indispensable and unique feature of the Old Arcade Street scenery.

In humid, hot and rainy Hainan, this kind of sculpture is the main form of decoration, with a complete and unique Hainan pattern system formed.

The colourfulness highlights the folk characteristics. Various patterns symbolises people reuniting when the moon is full.

The grey sculpture art combines the three-dimensional sense of carving and the colour sense of murals. It records the renewal of an ancient building in the midst of wind and rain. The arcade buildings with diverse styles, a combination of Chinese and Western styles, and full of exotic customs, condense the strong Nanyang culture and also record the respect and protection of the history by future generations.

Hainan culture and Fujian culture have an unbreakable bond.

Right now, most of the ancestors of Han residents in Hainan Island are from Fujian and there are even more people from Putian.

There are still records of "ancestors moving from Putian, Fujian" in the genealogy of historical materials in many places in Hainan.

The immigrant history of Fujian and Hainan has made the connection between the two cultures more profound and closer.

A large number of immigrants from southern Fujian poured in and Mazu culture settled in Hainan immediately.

Taking the "Lin" surname in the mortal period of Mazu as an example, it has already developed into one of the seven surnames in Hainan.

There are 47 Mazu temples in Hainan Province, located in 13 prefectures and counties.

They are located in the "Tianhou Palace" on Zhongshan Road, Qilou Old Street, Haikou. It is the first Mazu temple on Hainan Island and has a history of 700 years. The shrines in the Old Arcade Street and the design of the interior halls are all the same as those in Fujian.

In the name of the shop plaque, there is a glimpse of the past. After the "Tianjin Treaty," Haikou was listed as a foreign trade port, and foreign cotton fibres, cotton yarns and cotton fabrics began to flood into the Haikou market.

In the summer of 1936, the exotic Yuda Company was established. This was the "soul dreaming" of Haikou women and the gathering of merchants reflected the enthusiasm and pursuit of a good life by the Haikou people. With the most fashionable fabrics and cotton fabrics of various colours, Yuda became a well-known name in that era.

In the 1930s, Haikou Arcade Building had 572 shops including 35 industries, such as "Yongchangli", "Yunxuji", "Far East Company", "Guangdetang" and so on. These century-old firms have never disappeared in memory. The old business "Quanfengtai", which was founded in the early days of the Republic of China, has now become a cultural restaurant with a brand-new outlook.

Over the years, the arcade street has accumulated a large number of historical and cultural relics. Thirteen countries in history have established consulates, churches, post offices, banks, and chambers of commerce here. It’s also the site of the First Conference of the Communist Party of China in Qiongya, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall; Tianhou Temple, Xitian Temple, Wusheng Temple and Madam Xian Temple.

Arcade Street, with its quiet and indifferent elegance and open and inclusive atmosphere, interprets the profound and charming history and culture.

Haikou is a seaside city with a unique lifestyle. With rich and diverse animal and plant resources, marine resources, minerals and other resources, life is full of comfort and leisure.

Strolling along Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street, fashionable craftspeople run their own small shops on both sides of the street. They hand-make items at their own pace.

Even on weekdays, you can witness the unique scene of people gathering watching flowers and birds.

Many Haikou people make a special trip to Shuixiankou in the early morning, to soak up the atmosphere.

Local cuisines are the result of local wisdom and experiences. This is the case with the century-old Shuixiangkou spicy soup rice.

Since Haikou was established as a foreign trade port in 1858, the scope of Haikou's commodity circulation and business scale have gradually expanded. The transportation agency and water transportation company near the Bell Tower gathered a large number of workers who pulled trolleys and worked as coolies?. The need for cheap, delicious and filling food gave birth to this unique bowl of Shuixiangkou spicy soup. Chen Ji, Yao Ji, Wu Ji and other old-fashioned spicy soup and rice pay tribute to the Haikou ancestors.

A local Laoba tea shop is the epitome of Hainan's slow-paced life. Thanks to maritime trade, Cantonese-style morning tea and Western teas flowed into Hainan very early on.

At the same time, Hainanese expatriates who traveled across the ocean to make a living in the South China Sea returned to Hainan one after another. They brought back Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian customs and coffee and cocoa planting techniques.

To help with the livelihoods of older people in their hometowns, the returning Chinese jointly established Western-style tea shops in Haikou, Wenchang, Jiaji and other places.

The afternoon tea habit of eating a pastry and sipping tea has become a firm favourite here.

From Western-style teahouses to public teahouses, to Laoba Tea Shops, these places are spacious and welcoming, offering simple and unpretentious food along with a great atmosphere.

Laoba tea has long become an indispensable part of the slow-paced life of older residents.

Arcade Street is a collection of Haikou architectural art culture, Nanyang culture, Confucian culture, red culture, marine culture and market culture, all of which are fascinating and intriguing. It carries the century-old elegance of Haikou, together with the ever-changing Haikou - radiating the vitality of Hainan Island.

People living in Haikou, "the happiest city in China", show an optimistic attitude towards life with a slow pace and a healthy attitude, close to nature.

Haikou boasts seaside style, fascinating ecology and idyllic scenery, along with modern fashion and a charming local culture.

(Don’t understand this) In the arcade street, read this enduring poem with strong charm. In Haikou, slow down your pace, so is life and love. We are here, waiting for you!