Time to travel
In a previous article I wrote about the great location of Fuzhou in accordance to some rather interesting places to visit. I said I would be visiting Xiamen eventually and luckily last weekend, my friends and I took the trip westwards to this idylic coastal city.
Being only between an hour and a half away it makes for an excellent excuse to get out of Fuzhou for the weekend at little expense and also on a complete whim. As our teaching week is Wednesday to Sunday, it allows anyone who wants to travel in the local vicinity of Fujian province the ability to go at the drop of a hat Sunday night and have two days of lesser densely populated streets and restaurants.
We took off at about 7pm, entering Xiamen train station just after the 9 o’clock hour mark. We were on a highly modern fast train and the comfort levels were definitely higher than that compared to back home. The journey itself only cost a paltry 80 RMB one way – that’s £8 to anyone back in the UK. If you can imagine a two hour train journey covering the distance we did so for that little back in England you would probably be back in the 1990’s. It is another testament to Chinese engineering that they can schedule these faster, more comfortable trains for less money.
Arriving in Xiamen
Xiamen itself is similar in stature to Fuzhou, with slightly less people populating the city at five million. Considered rather a small city by Chinese standards it would still dwarf nearly all European cities by comparison. There is some rather interesting history behind Xiamen and although we were only there for one night and a day we tried to see a little of it, with a view to going back later in the year. As is the advantage of having high speed travel, you can get most places more than once and not feel like you have to rush as if it is going to be the only time you have the chance to visit.
Me and Jamie headed to the university first to take a look around and you can see why there is such an international presence in Xiamen. The university is a brilliantly diverse landscape of old scenery and modern art where you can imagine having consummate ease finding a place to study in all its surroundings. A short period spent here relaxing meant for two hungry stomachs and afterwards we went for some authentic Korean food just over the road. Now, don’t get me wrong, the food was excellent and I throroughly enjoyed it, but what we ordered could easily have been Chinese for all I know. The specific differences between Chinese and Korean I couldn’t tell you but it was great to try nonetheless.
From here we met our friends Mike and his friend Mosquito (her Chinese name is said to resemble the character for mosquito, hence her English name became ‘Mosquito’) and we took the short ferry to GuLangYu Island. GuLangYu Island has some great history etched in to its past and you can tell from the moment you walk off the boat that it once had some ownership debates between old colonists and the Chinese. Without descending too much in to historical detail, it was once occupied by Britain after the Opium Wars in 1841 and then nearly one hundred years later during World War Two it was occupied by Japan.
Both colonists powers have left their mark but today it stands as a symbol of Chinese perserverance and dedication to ones motherland. On the coast facing Xiamen there is a great big statue of the man famed for saving thousands of Chinese from drugs – Zheng Chongchen.