A Weekend in Xiamen
OK these photos are OUT OF ORDER, because I knew that once I posted the
Tiger Leaping Gorge & Lijiang photos, I would most likely not post more pics
or updates for another chunk of time. That meant that if I’d followed the
order of things, these shots of the last weekend H&G and I spent in the city
of Xiamen on the coast of southern Fujian province would be the first things folks see when they check the blog, for at least a few weeks. And, frankly,
Xiamen was lovely but it doesn’t deserve that honor over the gorge.
So here they are, looking as though we went to Xiamen in between Dali and
Lijiang. Not so, but hey, it’s my blog and I get to do what I want! After
Lijiang we came back to Beijing so I could spend a week at work while they
explored the great city, and then we flew to Xiamen for the weekend.
A few factoids about Xiamen, as long as you’re looking. It used to be known
as Amoy, which comes close to representing how the name is pronounced in the local dialect. (Which, for those not up on their Chinese geography and history, is closely related to the dialect spoken in Taiwan, since Taiwan is a mere 100km or so across the strait from Fujian, and was in fact part of Fujian province under the Qing, until it was ceded to Japan after Japan’s rather successful 1895 war against China…again, assuming I’m correctly remembering my college history studies.) We spent two nights on the lovely and very relaxed island of Gulangyu, just across a short channel from the main part of Xiamen. There are no cars on Gulanyu; people walk, ride bikes, or hop on golf carts to get around.
Xiamen was one of the treaty ports, when the western powers (especially France and Britain) repeatedly attacked China during the 19th century in order to force its market open to western imports…and to opium imports that the British East India company was so interested in selling to the Chinese in the waning years of the Qing Dynasty — if I remember my history correctly. In any case, due to this history Gulangyu, which housed some of the foreign consulates, has a good deal of 19th century colonial architecture, in addition to its relaxed feel and nearly tropical vegetation and climate. Though I only ordered on their behalf and didn’t eat any myself, Howard and Gene tell me the seafood was also quite excellent.
Oh, if you’re curious, this is a shot of the temple built at the base of “Sunlight Rock,” the 93-meter high rock you’ll see in some of the other shots, which dominates the island. It’s said that Koxinga, who in the 17th Century (?) led a group of warriors from Fujian across the strait to claim Formosa (later known as Taiwan) from the Dutch (who claimed to have discovered it around then, though when they did it was already inhabited by indigenous people whose descendants are now registered among the official ethnic minorities of the PRC)…anyhoo, this Koxinga guy is supposed to have sworn some big bad pledge with his soldiers about driving the foreign devils out of the Chinese sphere of influence. So there’s a statue and a museum to him on the rock, also. Most of the other shots were taken from the top of the rock.