Monday, August 23, 2010

Xiamen, China

 Our original destination for this trip was Fuzhou, China, but due to recent flooding there, the public health officials had their hands full, so the city was changed to Xiamen.
As it turned out, I think this was a much better city to visit. Xiamen is a tourist town on the coast with the cleanest air we have ever experienced within China. One can not help noticing on this map taken from a Chinese web site, that Taiwan is considered a province of China and not a separate country.

It is one of the major seaports since ancient times and boasts a wide gulf with deep water without freezing and silting. The name Xiamen means “a gate of China”.

We were there at the end of June and already the weather was hot during the day and warm at night. As a point of reference, the city is just a midge north of the tropic of cancer and is further south than any part of the continental United States. And it just occurs to me that the extremes of climate within China are much more severe than in the U.S.

We stay at the Wyndham Hotel, one of the finest in the city located facing the channel directly across from Gulangyu Island. Later we take a boat across the channel and visit there. It takes less time than the Star Ferry in Hong Kong to go between from a main land to an island. It is one of the high priority things to visit. 
 This a photo of the Wyndham Hotel lobby from the cocktail lounge area of the ground floor.

We were fed extremely well by our hosts which is normal, but the food here was much better than average. The banquet during the evening of the closing day of the conference was in a place right on the water, and I took this photo before I went in.

One of the days we are driven up the coast and can see Taiwan in the distance. The Beaches here are very nice, but not used much in the sense that they would be my Americans. I suspect most Chinese don’t know how to swim and Chinese people do anything to keep from getting darker. That and the fact they are more modest, does not conjure up an image of people laying on the beach in bikinis or even something more modest. They seem happy to walk along the water’s edge with their shoes off.
This is Taiwan in the background and me in the foreground.

One day we talk a boat ride very close to the shores of Taiwan. The day is hot, the boat is crowded, there are unruly children, and the loud speaker on the boat is way, way too loud. I took both hearing aids out and still it was an assault to my system. The Chinese language is brusque and the opposite of melodic and without periods of rest, I find it is just loud noise. Very tiring. I can see why loud noise is part of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. 
Here is a photo of a modern Chinese woman on the boat texting her friends.

The last tour of note was to Gulangyu Island. It got its present name from the huge reef surrounding it. When the tide comes in, the waves pound the reef and it sounds like the beating of a drum. The island came to be named 'Gulang'. Gu in Chinese means 'drum', and Lang, 'waves'.

During the later Ming Dynasty, the troops of national hero Zheng Chenggong were stationed here. After the Opium War in 1842, 13 countries including Great Britain, France and Japan established consulates, churches, and hospitals, turning the island into a common concession. In 1942, Japan occupied the island until the end of the War of Resistance against Japan.
Gulangyu Island has about 20,000 permanent residents, and only electric-powered vehicles are permitted on the island, so the environment is free from the noise and pollution cars. Many homes and gardens resemble classical European style architecture and it is also known as Piano Island.

Gulangyu's Piano Museum, opened in 2000, is comprised of two exhibition halls. The collection includes 30 pianos by renowned piano makers from Britain, France, the United States, Austria and Australia. The instruments are all over 100 years old. A large selection of miniature and custom pianos are also on display.

Before I realized that I was not supposed to take photos, I took a couple

We arrived home July 3rd and were glad to be able to enjoy Independence Day in this great country of ours. Nothing makes me appreciate our homeland more than being away from it and coming back home.

1 comment:

GETkristiLOVE said...

I remember laying out on Lantau Island in my bikini and shocking all the Chinese people there.

Dave just got back from Shanghai not too long ago and said it was so hot that he sweated through his shirts every day and spent a fortune on cleaning the two dress shirts he brought along to meet with doctors.