Sunday, June 1, 2014

Weekend in Xiamen part 2

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which was a very good choice. Even though we’d been to Xiamen before, we didn’t know anything about the hotels.

In Fuzhou, you have few options. There are a few western hotels, but they are easily the most expensive. Most of the hotels are Chinese, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Chinese customers seem to have different ideas about what is clean and comfortable. Chinese hotels also look like they were decorated 50 years ago. I don’t care about the latest furniture and whatever this week’s trends are, but I think you have to redecorate your hotel once in a while. If nothing else, newer carpets and beds tend to be cleaner.

Xiamen has more choices. They have plenty of Chinese hotels, of course, but they also have a greater variety of western options. It’s not just the most expensive western chains. They have cheap western hotels, too.

The Crowne Plaza isn’t the most expensive hotel, but it isn’t the cheapest either. It’s supposedly a 5 star hotel, but Chinese 5 star isn’t the same as actual 5 star. I’ve seen some Chinese 5 star hotels that Motel 6 wouldn’t want anything to do with. The Crowne Plaza would probably be 3 or 4 stars in Paris. It was clean and comfortable – which are the most important things to us – and it was in a great location.

The hotel had all the basics you expect of an international hotel that are sometimes hard to find in China. Everything in the room worked properly and did what it was supposed to do. The hotel even had a pool, which is not as common in China as it should be, but the pool was being renovated while we were there, so we never used it.

The hotel was very close to the lake. We couldn’t see it from our room because we were facing the opposite direction, but it was a very easy walk. We went to the lake during the cruise, but we spent more time there this time. It’s not the most exciting lake in the world, but it’s a nice place to walk around and a lot cleaner – and a million times safer – than walking on the street.

Since we stayed at a major hotel, it was pretty easy to get a taxi. Even if we couldn’t, we were on one of the major streets, so taxis and buses were easy. Buses in China can be very difficult if you don’t understand the Chinese system. Most foreigners just use taxis. They can also be difficult if you don’t speak any Chinese. The drivers are almost guaranteed to try to rip you off – until you say something to them in Chinese. Once they hear Chinese, they immediately shape up.

If you can’t speak any Chinese, any decent hotel should be able to write down where you want to go. The Crowne Plaza, like most better hotels, has cards with a Chinese map on the back. If you’re going back to the hotel you can just hand the driver the card.

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