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BLOG: Parting thoughts from Xiamen

View 2001 Sabah, Shanghai, Eastern China & Xiamen on alexchan's travel map.

Well, we watched Xiamen by night and have one more analysis (comparison with Shanghai area) to add. Up there, people have no qualms about going out to the malls in their pyjamas (ie those not wearing a suit). Over here, no one does that.

The development here is phenomenal. The expressway is built out over the sea, linking parts of the island. I suppose this saves on reclamation but the amount of reclamation is also unbelievable. Reclaimed land and demolition make way for new office and apartment blocks. Most tastefully done, with some in park-like settings. One area even retains several artificial inlets of the sea to make a picturesque setting. The high standard of cleanliness is everywhere ... Singapore standard.

My relatives drove us around the coast opposite Jinmen (one of several offshore islands occupied by Taiwan). The beaches here are very good and ABSOLUTELY spotless ... no seaweed, litter ... puts Takapuna beach to shame. We could see the Taiwanese-administered islands. These areas have only been recently developed and was even closed to locals until several years ago "for fear of Taiwanese attack".

I get interesting insight into the local way of thinking about Taiwan vs China. Another example being "we let Taiwanese visit our country, but they don't let us visit them for fear of us influencing their population to rebel against their capitalist government".

Along this coast was a huge loudspeaker formerly used to blast propaganda to the Taiwanese held islands. And there was one on another side of course, doing the opposite/same. Now, there is only a ginormous "One China" placard.

We were taken to a 300-table restaurant (table seats 10 but typical occupancy of 5, 2 sittings a night). It was so huge that the waitresses move around on skates while pushing their trolleys. Service was impeccable despite the size (offered to re-heat dishes, walk the doggy bag to the door at the end of the evening).

This morning we visited by great-grandfather's house. It has little bits of carving along the pillars and on the window panels. I could imagine how it looked with the old wall-fence, courtyard and houses inside. During the communist era, the compounds were built up with additional units which are now sublet by my cousin.

We're now packed and killing time before going to the airport. Kim bought an old (or old-looking) alarm clock with peasants in Mao suits waving their hands (or looks like shaking their fists). Also pictures of Mao on the side. I'm not worried about Aviation Security detecting this as we have no explosives attached to the clock. More worried about Malaysian customs confisicating this being a communist item ... or worse detaining him indefinitely under the Internal Security Act. The Act was enacted when Malaysia faced a lot of terrorism from communists in the jungle, and the government is quite proud of this piece of legislation ... because "the US ambassador wants to learn from them about how to implement similar legislation to counter terrorism".

So far I've been impressed with how China has advanced in the last three years.

The city buses here have some sort of smart-card reader. Just hold your card (or wallet) in front of the reader and it deducts the value of the fare. A bit like KL airport's passport reader ... just hold your passport or wallet in front of it and the doors open for you to enter or leave the country. And the bus disembarking door has a camera to ensure that schoolchildren are not dragged along the road like Stagecoach Auckland ... unusually safety-conscious for China. And smart-card / stored value cards / electronic purses are in use here.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in China

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