Travel Report: Cool Spots Around Xiamen, China.
August 2017. My five day trip to the island city of Xiamen very nearly didn’t happen. In the days leading up to my visit, Typhoon Nesat swept through southern China. This caused considerable mayhem to Taiwan and mainland Fujian Province. In fact, just the day before my journey, all trains to Xiamen got cancelled! Luckily for me god wagged his finger, the clouds parted and the train schedules came back from the dead. On arrival I found a city engulfed in rain, light winds and an eerie afternoon darkness. Not wanting to venture too far, I decided on a leisurely stroll around pretty Zhongshan Park, one of many cool spots around Xiamen.
The weather wasn’t much better on day two. In fact, Xiamen was literally enslaved by beating rain and a dogged 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 recommended sights. However, one by one, I discovered they were all closed. Wet, tired and increasingly dismayed, I kept on walking until I stumbled upon this striking memorial commemorating the Chinese Army’s efforts in the war against Taiwan. Set on a hill and accessed via a lofty set of stone steps, I climbed to the top where 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.
It was mid afternoon when, quite suddenly, the rain stopped and Xiamen finally brightened up. I’d been hiding out in a bakery when I popped my head out and witnessed a city in transformation! Now there was actual foot traffic, with shops and restaurants reopening for business. Furthermore, a few fruit & veg vendors began setting up stalls out on the pavement. I was so happy I bought a celebratory apple from this lady. At long last I could roll up my sleeves and start exploring!
Baicheng 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 isn’t exactly inviting. Similarly, the less said about the smoggy skyline the better. Nevertheless, a beach walk is never going to be the worst thing in the world and it does offer a window into local family life. Of course, it would be a whole new picture on a clear, sunny day. Even better, Baicheng Beach is right on the way to Hulishan Fortress, one of Xiamen’s must see sights!
My favourite street food discovery came here on Shuixian Road, courtesy of this friendly husband and wife. I can only describe their curious creations as some manner of savoury pancake made up of onion, potato and egg. Having been fried within an inch of its life by Mama Pancake, it was down to Papa Pancake to whisk it from the pan. He then swiftly added toppings of shaved beef, coriander, sweet pickles and a dollop of creamy peanut sauce. The verdict? Yes!
Finally then, a word about my city digs, Xiamen Romantic Capsule Hostel. This was my first ever pod hostel experience and I really liked it! Some people feel claustrophobic in these tiny boxes. However, I always had a great night’s sleep and loved the fact that my little pod had everything I needed. Yup, you’ve got plug sockets, USB charging points and a mirror. It even has adjustable air con and 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.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.