August 2017. My five-day trip to the island city of Xiamen very nearly didn’t happen. In the days preceding my visit, Typhoon Nesat swept through southern China, causing considerable mayhem to Taiwan and mainland Fujian Province. In fact, just the day before my journey all trains to Xiamen had been cancelled! Luckily for me god wagged his finger, the clouds parted and the train schedules were brought back from the dead. On arrival I found a city engulfed in rain, light winds and an eerie afternoon darkness. One of the first things I did was take a leisurely stroll around pretty Zhongshan Park.
August 2017. Weather wise my second day in Xiamen wasn’t much better, the city enslaved by beating rain and a dogged, sinister looking fog. To make matters worse, my attempts to find a functioning café proved futile. Prior to my trip I’d drawn up a hit list of highly recommended places. But infuriatingly, one by one, I discovered they were all closed. Wet, tired and increasingly dismayed, I just kept on walking until I stumbled upon this striking memorial commemorating the Chinese Army’s efforts in the war against Taiwan. Set on a sprawling hill and accessed via a lofty staircase of stone steps, at the top I came across a Chinese man and his son. The father seemed to be giving his little one a passionate history lesson, with much chest beating and a heightened sense of patriotism.
August 2017. It was mid afternoon when, quite suddenly, the rain stopped and Xiamen finally brightened up. I’d been hiding out in a bakery and when I popped my head out I witnessed a city transforming! There was actual foot traffic with shops and restaurants reopening for business, their sleep-eyed owners emerging as if from hibernation. I was so happy I bought a celebratory apple from this fruit and veg vendor and rolled up my proverbial sleeves, ready to start exploring!
Xiamen’s city beach is… not great. As with so many of the beaches I’ve seen in China people tend to throw their crap all over the place and the colour of the water doesn’t exactly invite you for a swim. And the less said about the gloomy, smoggy skyline the better. Nevertheless, a beach walk is never going to be the worst thing in the world and it’s part of the walking route to nearby Hulishan Fortress, which is well worth checking out!
August 2017. My favorite street food discovery came here, courtesy of this charming husband and wife. I can only describe it as a mushy savory pancake made up of onion, potato and egg. Having been fried within an inch of its life by Mama Pancake, Papa Pancake stepped in to whisk it from the pan and add toppings of beef shavings, coriander, sweet pickles and a dollop of creamy peanut sauce. Yes, yes, yes and yes!!!!
Finally then, a word about my city digs, Xiamen Romantic Capsule Hostel. This was my first ever capsule/pod hostel experience and I really liked it. Some people feel claustrophobic in these little boxes but I always had a great night’s sleep and loved the fact that they had everything I needed, from plug sockets, USB charging points and mirrors, to adjustable air con and even a TV! If you’re ever in Xiamen, see if they have a capsule free. For more info check them out here.
For more snapshots of this amazing city, check out my other reports from around Xiamen.
Or maybe search further afield with my zillion articles from across China.
I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.
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