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Xiamen and Gulangyu, China

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Xiamen (Chia-men) is a city that sits somewhere on the coast between Shanghai and Hong Kong. There are a number of places like this in China that are wonderful to visit and have great city streets and resources, but are not frequented by Western Visitors.

Xiamen Shopping Area

When thinking about visiting the large and diverse land of China, most of us think about Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. However, it's nice to see some of these side places that are a world of their own.

Xiamen Shopping Area

As with a few of the other places we've been much of the tourist traffic comes from Chinese people visiting from other provinces. It's interesting though to see many of the signs in both Chinese and English. This city (like Shanghai) was about fashion and appearance. There were many salons lining the streets and as you can tell, basic black hair is sooooo yesterday. The photo below was a typical pow-pow session that many Chinese businesses have before opening. This upscale salon was preparing to sets trends for the day.

Xiamen Hair Salon Pow Wow Session

Xiamen, as with most of places in China, was much different than I had expected. Again, there was a vibrance and energy to the city that is typically seen in cosmopolitan cities.

Xiamen Side Street

While some of the architecture was old and "traditional" on the side streets, there was a great walking boulevard which housed multiple upscale shopping centers. As with Shanghai, most things were priced way above what they would ever be in America, and it seems obvious that the wealthy of China come here to shop.

After wondering around the city for a while, I took a boat from the main waterfront over to a beautiful

Gulangyu Island Waterfront, European Architecture

place called Gulangyu. It is a small island which sits off of the Xiamen houses some wonderful streets and unique architecture for Asia.

Gulangyu Island, European Architecture

I believe there was a European influence here from many years ago which created Victoria style buildings.

Gulangyu Island, European Architecture

There were lots and lots of Chinese tourists on this island. We took a ferry from the mainland and it takes only minutes, but it was crowded enough that you could barely move.

Gulangyu Island, European Architecture

One of the highlights for me was when I ran across a bride and her groom on the island.

Gulangyu Island Bride and Professional Photo Shoot

They were having professional pictures taken. I asked if I could photograph her and was given permission. The groom and his friends also asked if they could have their photo taken with me, so they each posed and traded cameras…super nice people. I guess we're all curious about other people and cultures.

A Portrait I Took of Gulangyu Bride

There were many interesting faces throughout and so I captured a number of them. This young lady was peering out of a high-end tea shop on the island.

Gulangyu Island Tea Shop Employee

I always love the great expressions that you can catch on people's faces when they don't know you're looking. There was such a confidence and intelligence to the people of Xiamen and Gulangyu, such as this young lady trying to lure customers into the store as she stood out on the street.

Gulangyu Island Employee Trying to Draw in Customers to Store

Although Xiamen is an unusual spot for Americans to travel to, I would highly recommend it if you have the ability to travel there. Remember though, shopping is at a premium, except for small local places.

Gulangyu Island Man

I don't have a whole lot to say about Xiamen since it's mainly a busy, cosmopolitan city. However, Gulangyu was great and well worth a look. The overall cost for food and transportation here was pretty cheap. They have various ferry boats that range from over-the-top, to general transport.

Gulangyu Island, One Type of Ferry Boat

If you're interested, there are a number of other photos of both Xiamen and Gulangyu that you can access in my photo album HERE. You can also use the "Slideshow" function at the top of that gallery for easy viewing.


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