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06
Sep
2013
Xiamen E-mail
Reviews - Travel
Written by Local Ren
Xiamen is actually an island linked to the mainland by a long causeway of road and railway. Sightseeing by riding on the Island Ring Road and a long bridge along the seaside is wonderful. Though the city is also called Egret Island, we saw no egret this time. Numerous parks, hills, waters, temples and gardens comprise a grand beautiful picture, making the city a great vacation site.

Fortunately, hotspots are conveniently concentrated for visitors to experience the area's hype and magic. You are deeply impressed with the evidence of an international settlement in the surviving colonial architecture of parts of its skyline. Previously, Xiamen had an excellent record of public safety and was tranquil and graceful, free from the hustle and bustle, traffic jams and stale air typical of big cities. But a Golden Week just gave a different picture of Xiamen.

Huli Hill Fort, on the beach outside Xiamen University, boasts the World of Exotic Stones and an exhibition of ancient weapons, including a 60 ton German Krupp. Taiwan actually controls the smaller islands a mile or so off the coast at Xiamen. We failed to find a special telescope that had helped us to see a carved slogan at the shore of a Taiwan-controlled isle. Across the causeway from Xiamen is Tan Kah Kee's home and tomb ("The Turtle Garden") in Jimei. Mr. Tan's memorial has an incredible display of stone relief carvings with intricate details, carved by stonemasons from Hui'an.

We explored the Nanputuo Temple - featuring the Laughing Buddha and other stunning collection of Buddhist scriptures and statures. The temple's halls and pavilions sprawl across the Wulao Peak like an oversized Chinese miniature landscape. Next to the temple is the beautiful campus of Xiamen University - a campus by the sea. This is a wonderful place to stroll around on a sunny morning or afternoon.

If you walk the paths around the lake you will discover arched bridges and an island with bronze life-size statues. You can see the modern architecture of the new administration and classroom buildings as well as the original ancient style dormitory buildings on the opposite sides. Behind those buildings you can hike up the mountains in the back. There are many trails that lead over the mountain to the botanical gardens on the other side. A heavy rain wet-blanketed the sightseers like us.



A mere 500 meters away from the downtown Xiamen lies the famous island of Gulangyu (or "Drum Waves", because the breakers pound the rocks like drums). Visitors take a 10 minute ferry ride to Gulangyu, well known as "Garden of the Sea" or "Piano Islet". This tiny community has more pianos per capita than anywhere else on the planet - one in every five homes.

Surprisingly we missed the sound of this King of Musical Instrument. However, we met many great street artists who gave performances for money. Vehicles and bicycles are forbidden on the tiny island which has not had cars for centuries! We stole a great glimpse of the magnificent harbor and skyline by climbing a high platform near the Sunlight Rock.

We found a lot of local delicacies like steamed glutinous meat and rice dumpling, Xiamen spring roll, jellied sandworm, peanut soup, shrimp noodles, noodles in peanut sauce, five-spice meat rolls, and upper thread. Insufficient free time did not allow us to taste them all!

Our valuable Editor Local Ren has been with us since Wednesday, 23 January 2013.

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