July 2014 – Xiamen

So yeah, I remembered that I did have a blog. LOL we’ve flown to Australia, I’m flying to China again in a week, and I haven’t finished the pictures from the previous China trip. Great, just great.

I really, sincerely hope that I get to the point in my blogging where all my blog entry introductions start with a mini rant on how behind I am in my blog posts. To take away a bit of your annoyance at my ranting earlier, behold a magnificent view of Xiamen!
_DSC0954Quite impressive, isn’t it? I believe my previous sentence was also a bit misleading as one would actually expect an aerial view. Haha it’s just a tiny view of the city from the top floor of our hotel, which had a revolving restaurant… fancy. Anyway, more peeks on how modern Xiamen has become…

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I looked up this hotel on Agoda, and it costs more than a pretty penny to stay in one of their rooms. Okay, just get back to me after about 20 years, would you? :p
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This last video has got to be my favorite, though. It had me marvelling at the many clever ways architecture can be used, while my three aunts (the ones who treated me to dimsum on that same revolving restaurant) on the side were huffing and puffing about how too many buildings were cropping up on Xiamen and whatnot.

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What would a trip to Xiamen be without a trip to Gulangyu (鼓浪屿) be, though? A short introduction to Gulangyu would be that it’s a small islet off Xiamen that can be easily reached with a five-minute ferry ride. Although it was my second time to visit the island, I relished this time as if it were the first, if only because during my actual first time I was still such a complaining and unappreciative child LOL.
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I stopped taking a picture of every laughable grammatically-impaired English translation of signs in China 5 years ago. Haha horrible translations aside, what I came to really love about Gulangyu is its quirky architecture. Sometimes it’s Chinese, sometimes it’s European, sometimes an eclectic mix – there’s something to discover at every corner. You could spend a whole day here just taking pictures of houses, nooks and crannies from every angle possible.
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Particularly love this previous photo as it shows one of the many ways old and new come together in Gulangyu. More fine examples of the design and architecture here:
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On this sign you can see directions to one of the famous attractions in Gulangyu, 日光岩 (Ri Guang Yan, translated as “sunlight rock”), which we didn’t go to due to lack of time.
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We went ahead and picked one spot to explore, and it ended up being this place: 云门 (literally translated at “Gate of the Clouds”) inside 日光岩寺 (Sunlight Rock Temple)
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Funny thing was, all these pictures were taken only from the ticket booth and entrance area, because once again, we decided that our time was not enough to actually enter and climb the mountain (or it sure looks like one). I just kept myself cheerful by repeatedly thinking: the trip back and forth is good cardio. This is good cardio.
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Big, big local tip, perfected by us through years of experimentation: this brand (黄胜记) is the best one to get for pork floss – one of the things you’ll see in Xiamen that’s actually a good buy, be it for yourself or as a take-home for loved ones.
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What was a flippin’ curiosity about this place was the number of couples who go there every single day to shoot their pre-nuptial photos. I’m not exaggerating when I say that on the five-minute ferry we were on, there were about three bride-to-be’s decked out in complete hair and makeup with their cumbersome gown and five-inch heels stepping on the ship with us. I mean, if there were three couples on a single trip with us, how many total couples make their way to Gulangyu every day? Apparently, the photographers know it as well as we do – there are truly hundreds and thousands of places to shoot beautiful photos in here.

Though if I were a bride, I wouldn’t really like having the passersby gawking at me while I try and do a sweet pose with my future husband. 😮
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So that’s Gulangyu for you – islet of the narrow streets, cute concept coffee shops, and all-around photographer’s heaven.
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Modern Xiamen buildings greet you on your way back from Gulangyu, reminding you that you’re back in the more industrialized part of the city of Xiamen.
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Now allow me to introduce another popular part of Xiamen to you – 中山路 Zhong Shan Lu, a.k.a. the most famous pedestrian street/shopping spot in Xiamen.
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In case you were wondering what the hell I was talking about when I said “most famous” when there’s no one to be seen in sight, let me just clarify. My friend and I arrived here some time before 10:00am, the time when Zhong Shan Lu would just be waking up and opening shop. So in a sense, we were one of the first customers there – actually my first time to be an early bird at a pedestrian street. So it was also pretty nice to be able to experience having the street all to yourself.
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See? 黄胜记 (the pork floss shop I was telling you about earlier) strikes again! It’s really widespread here so don’t worry about not getting to find a shop.
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My friend & I both went tea shopping as souvenirs for certain people at this shop called 天福 Tianfu – it’s one of the more reasonable ones with good quality. Our relatives who reside in Xiamen also buy this brand for us, so that pretty much speaks for its quality.
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And although the Chinese may be known for their less-than-classy taste from time to time, rest assured that there are a lot of cute, quirky and all-around pretty shops here carrying equally compelling stuff for you to buy. 🙂
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Though not as dazzlingly modern as Shanghai, Xiamen is still a good, sensible city for you to put on your calendar should you plan to visit China any time soon. 🙂

Dann

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