Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend in Xiamen part 4

The big sites in Xiamen are Gulangyu, Nanputuo Temple, Xiamen University, Zhongshan Park and Zhongshan Road.

We went to Gulangyu on our first trip to Xiamen and we absolutely hated it. There’s nothing wrong with the island itself. It’s probably very nice. The problem is that you can’t really see it when it’s full of millions of people – literally. It’s like Disneyland on opening day – only the people are much angrier.

It’s a very short ferry ride from Xiamen Island to Gulangyu, but they cram the ferry as full as they possibly can – even fuller than that, really. If you don’t want to smell cigarettes and what everyone else just ate, don’t take the ferry. Gulangyu is an island, so there’s no other way to get there. It’s technically illegal to smoke on the ferry, but smoking laws are merely suggestions in China. Since pretty much everyone smokes, those suggestions are always ignored.

Once you’re off the ferry, it’s still unbelievably crowded. Chinese people naturally push their way everywhere and this island is wall to wall people pushing to get to whatever they want to see. There’s an observation deck on the highest hill, but getting there was an absolute nightmare. I’ve seen lions on the Discovery Channel that were more polite to the zebras they killed than the way most of the people on Gulangyu acted in their mad lust to be the first at everything.

We also went to Nanputuo Temple on our first trip. That’s another place that’s probably nice without millions of people all pushing each other. We didn’t even try to go to the top of that hill.

Our first trip to Xiamen was in the middle of June and this one was at the end of May, so maybe we didn’t pick the best times to go. It might be less crowded in January. Maybe some of these places are better when there are only hundreds of thousands of people.

We didn’t go to Xiamen University on either trip. We didn’t see the point. There’s supposed to be a nice lake at the university, but out hotel was next to a lake, so we never bothered.

Zhongshan Road is a major tourist shopping street. We went there on our first trip with mixed results. This was where we saw the world’s filthiest Walmart and a woman peeing at the front door. There’s really nothing on Zhongshan Road besides tourist shopping. Since we already knew that, we didn’t go back.

What we never went to on our first trip was Zhongshan Park, so we went there this time.

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