Written by nmagann on 23 Oct, 2012
Waiting for bus number 101 with a Chinese office clerk, I could feel the air getting thicker and the humidity making my clothes sticky and clingy. So much for deliberately wearing loose garb. When the bus approached, Waya noticed it was quite packed…Read More
Waiting for bus number 101 with a Chinese office clerk, I could feel the air getting thicker and the humidity making my clothes sticky and clingy. So much for deliberately wearing loose garb. When the bus approached, Waya noticed it was quite packed and suggested we wait for the next one.With a little bit more room available we boarded the next one. All the seats were occupied so we stood by the exit doors near the middle of the bus. I wrapped my arm around the vertical pole near the steps as Waya grabbed an overhead strap partially directly behind me. Additional people pushed their way down the middle jamming my body much closer to the pole than needed. The bag had slung over my shoulder was now wedged into the small of my back. The clip in my hair was biting into my head as a result of someone’s arm curving around to reach the back of a seat to hold. I found myself stretching to new heights in an attempt to breathe, while wondering if the pungent order could be emanating from me. Relief as I decided my arms were close to my body and couldn’t be the offending ones. Nonetheless, I felt wet.The next stop brought no relief as only one individual got off. However four had gotten on at middle exit door with three of them standing in the door well of the steps. Within an instant, bus cards and coins were collected and sent towards the front of the bus. Who or how it was handled at that point is beyond me. Bus cards had various amounts of money left them. How people knew, which was theirs when they came back is a mystery. After all, I had one too and I didn’t notice a number or photo.When the bus stopped again, the doors flew up because someone had to get off at the front of the bus. One well dress lady was determined to fit in at the middle stairwell. The doors began to close and bounced back open. The women look over shoulder rather indignantly and pulled at perhaps an inch from her strap. The doors started to close and again rebounded open. Still, I thought to myself she didn’t realize there was more behind her than her purse. She spoke a few words loudly and the gentleman in front of me pulled his one foot close to the other creating little more room. At the same time she chastised (I later earned) the woman next to her by telling her that her arm was in her way. To that, the other woman responded she was holding on, which she was, to the bar on the door one usually pushes on to exit. Although I realized we were packed in so tight there doesn’t seem to be a reason to hold on, we inevitably do. And so on the forth attempt, the doors closed. I wondered how long this could have gone on before the driver or passengers revolted. All Waya could whisper to me was that it was experience to remember. Now I understood why she insists on riding by an exit door. We didn’t have to push through nearly as many to get out of there. Ahhhhh, deep breathClose
Written by John-Boy on 21 Jan, 2006
I've been living on Xiamen island for almost 3 years now. I didn't plan on coming here, and once I got here, I didn't plan on staying more than a year. So what got me hooked? Well, first, it's not the most exciting of cities. Sure,…Read More
I've been living on Xiamen island for almost 3 years now. I didn't plan on coming here, and once I got here, I didn't plan on staying more than a year. So what got me hooked?
Well, first, it's not the most exciting of cities. Sure, there's nightlife, but not the bewildering array that Shanghai or Beijing may offer. Ten years ago it might not have appealed to me as much. The attraction for me is that it's not too big and in your face. But at the same time it has enough foreign restaurants and bars to satisfy your appetite and thirst when you need a break from a continuous diet of Chinese fare.
It is one of the cleanest cities you are likely to come across in a lifetime of travel around China. There is no heavy industry and motorbikes are banned on the island. The resulting lack of pollution extends to noise pollution, too, as there is also a ban on the gratuitous use of car horns. Xiamen is surrounded by pretty, clean sandy beaches, as befits an island. If you go far enough out on the ring road, they can be quite quiet, too.
Xiamen certainly has the climate to match those beaches. Broadly speaking, there's an 8-month summer and a 4-month winter, though the latter can surprise you with some warmer days. Full-on typhoons are a rarity, as Xiamen's stretch of coastline tends to be protected by the Taiwanese landmass.
Xiamen is a "Special Economic Zone" that attracts plenty of foreign investment. Therefore, the locals are relatively used to seeing foreigners. The contrast is huge once you leave the island. What starts as a novel sense of celebrity quickly degenerates into a feeling of having sprouted two heads or a pointy tail. I have literally witnessed cyclists eyeball me through 90-degree heat and then bump into a lamppost!
From a tourism point of view, there's enough to keep you occupied for a weekend. There's the offshore colonial concession of Gulangyu. There's also the Nanputuo Monastery and botanical gardens. But I think Xiamen really scores points as somewhere just to hang out after an extended period of travel. I should say that I now have a local fiancee and I've bought a property--it looks like I'll be here for the duration!