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Horizons: China - Fujian 2009

markINFORMATION ON A HOLIDAY IN FUJIAN - INCLUDING THE COASTHOUSE, XIAMEN

The Return of Suzhou’s Prodigal Sun – Part 15 – Fujian

Hi! If you have been referred to this site from myhouse.com this is because their site is not in English, whereas what is written below is. The next five pages contain details of our holiday in Fujian, staying in Xiamen, Quanzhou and Huking Village, where we toured the tulous. On the fifth page are details of how you can make your bookings. To date this article has been read by 830 visitors and the photographs of Fujian by 700 visitors. Please feel free to enjoy the rest of the site. If you are specifically interested in the tulous or the Hakka people, my article, The Curious History of the Hakka and the Tulous (1000 visitors) can be reached by hitting this link.

If we hadn’t splashed out over the last few days, this would have been one of the cheapest holidays we’ve ever had. With airfares coming in at around $100 each for a return, hotel rates as low as $9 for a nice room with heating and hot and cold water, bus prices being minimal, huge meals for a few Yuan and Tsingtao averaging 5 Yuan a bottle even in the hotels, the prices couldn’t really get any lower.

We had a fascinating time and would thoroughly recommend the trip to others. Details of the links, if anyone wanted to retrace our footsteps, can be found at the end of this piece. These include email addresses and contacts for the hotels, some transport arrangements and some of the sites.

The decision to go to Fujian for Christmas was based on three principles; it would be warmer than Suzhou, it would be relatively inexpensive and that it would prove interesting. We had left ourselves a couple of days after the end of the school term, so that Andrea could sufficiently unwind, and headed off on Monday 21st December.

It proved an inauspicious start when the driver turned up 35 minutes late and we cut it very fine at Hongqiao airport after some horrendous traffic jams en route. The car and driver is one luxury we regularly use as it normally means a seamless start and end to the holiday; this time it just got the nerves jangling!

mark

Having been dropped off at Hongjiao, and after a very good 90 minute flight with Xiamen Airlines, we were met in Xiamen airport by Jerry, an old friend who used to work at the Black Mirage in Suzhou, and were quickly in a taxi to our hostel.

The Coasthouse Hostel is situated down the coast from the central part of Xiamen, at the southernmost tip of the island, and is decked out in Mediterranean style. It’s a little unfortunate that there is ongoing building work nearby but this did not prove intrusive. The other disadvantage could have been its position, but travelling into the centre for                                                                                                one Yuan on the bus negated this problem.

The Coasthouse doubles up as an art studio and a changing room for the many brides who require countless photographs on the beach. When we arrived there were at least four of them freezing their butts off as they posed for hours draped over rocks and fishing boats, as you do for wedding photographs! When we arrived there were no English speakers around so it was a short wait until we were settled in; again this problem did not persist, there are two excellent English speakers in the family.

The Monday proved to be one of the coldest days Xiamen had seen in 2009 and a light shirt and fleece were not sufficient to keep out the gusting coastal breeze. Still we persisted in our walk around the coast strolling about 5 kilometres to the NNE, the first part of which rounded a rocky headland on a suspended wood and rope walkway.

markWe had realised that Taiwan was less than 200 kilometres away, but we hadn’t known that the offshore Kinmen Islands, only two kilometres away, were controlled by the Taiwanese. This went a long way to explaining the number of derelict pill boxes along the coast; I guess it would have been quite a hot spot in 1949. There’s also a very large sign, some ten metres high by fifty long directing the message “Unify China with the one country two systems model” towards the Taiwanese islands. Apparently there’s one on Greater Kinmen Island of a similar size that says, “China is united by the three principles of the people”. With relations picking up, as the Taiwanese realise the advantages of being part of the PRC, let’s hope this bizarre stand-off comes to an end swiftly. My money is on ten years. “Unify China with commonsense!”

Some of the pill boxes were actually carved into solid granite, obviously an effective protection, but one that might have taken a guy with a chisel some years to turn a boulder into a military base.

So after the brides, the boulders and the banners what comes next but some kite boarders. I’ve never seen this particular sport in the flesh and it looks pretty exciting, particularly in the windy conditions that day. There are downsides; it seems it’s quite difficult to get back up if your kite and you go for a swim, you’d need both arm muscles to bulge like Rod Laver’s left one and something to warm you up immediately you come off the water. It also seems it would be a little foolhardy to get your wires tangled up with someone else’s!

mark

Then of course came the horsemen; all dressed up with riding hats and all, galloping down the beach. It was hard to believe we were in China until we saw what appeared to be a military exercise in progress along the beach. As we got closer this too proved to be somewhat different than first appearances had indicated; it was in fact two groups about to embark on a little laser warfare in the sand dunes. One close look at the raggle-taggle brigade was enough for it to sink in that this was not the People’s Army, but simply a group of office workers on some sort of team building exercise. The fact that they were all on their mobile phones as they set out, giggling hysterically and seemingly with no idea about the first principles of fake warfare, led one to conclude it may have been less successful than it should have been. While they had fun their sergeant-majors, the centre staff, looked on in despair and disbelief.

At the end of our walk we approached a group of four policemen to ask about a bus back; they proved extremely helpful and went out of their way to ensure we’d understood the directions. The bus took us past our accommodation and into the centre of town where we guiltily consumed a MacDonald’s. We strayed four times into western fast food restaurants on this trip, which is very unusual for us, but there were good reasons in each case.

We were a little foot weary as we entered Xiamen’s old port area. Anywhere in the world these places are trouble, but not in China. Whilst you wouldn’t say it felt comfortable as dusk began darkening the sky, it certainly wasn’t unsafe. We took a couple of pictures of the “arse-end” of town while we were there and then escaped by taxi for a more salubrious neighbourhood.