After five weeks in Shaowu we said farewell to our kids and flew back to Yangshuo to continue our teaching contract with Owen College. On our way back we spent two days in the beautiful coastal city of Xiamen. Xiamen is one of China’s special economic zones like Hong Kong and Macau and it is a prosperous and modern looking city.

We arrived in the evening and spent a few hours wandering around the narrow streets near our hostel. At 10pm they were bustling with activity. We saw an amazing array of live seafood displayed in buckets, stalls of gorgeous fresh fruit, BBQ street vendors and small restaurants cooking anything and everything from the sea.

On our first day in Xiamen we visited the beautiful island of Gulangyu, a small island off Xiamen. The island has no cars, which makes the streets very peaceful. The only form of transportation is by golf buggy or your own two feet. The island is attractively landscaped, and much of the architecture has been strongly influenced by the European settlers who were handed the island after the opium wars. Gulangyu has a history of producing talented pianists and there is a music school and a piano museum on the island. As you walk around you can hear piano music playing through speakers humourously disguised as rocks.

Gulangyu is heavily geared to Chinese tourists, of which there are many. There are a number of landscaped parks and museums designed to empty your pockets of tourist dollars. Most of the Chinese tourists spend their time between these “sights”, hopping on and off their hired golf buggies. We preferred to wander around the island looking at the architecture and the coast line. We enjoyed a fresh coconut on the beach and then headed back to Xiamen proper.

One our second day we visited Xiamen University (one of China’s most beautiful universities), an intersting museum highlighting Chinese people who have emigrated all over the world, a Buddhist temple and the Xiamen Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens were a little disappointing considering the price we paid to get in. In contrast, we were very impressed with the stunning Buddhist temple set back on a rocky hill. That evening we indulged in fresh crabs and prawns at a street stall. With chopsticks as our sole utensils we made a great mess extracting the delicious flesh from the shells with our bare hands. Our crab showed true fighting spirit, managing to wound Marty in battle despite having the clear disadvantage of being dead. Nevertheless, Marty did manage to outwit the dismembered crustacean and enjoyed the tasty fruits of victory.

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