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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:08 AM   #1
giallo
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XXXiamen: All dirty n' stank...plus TTTTTaiwan with a stutter.

These photos are from late January/early February aka Chinese new year. I've just been so busy I haven't found time to post them yet.



Xaimen, China is an interesting place. It's sort of a 'gateway to the south' city. Big, but not huge. Not terribly dull, but not terribly exciting either.


Music

http://www.zshare.net/audio/612178401afbb5f7/




We stayed about 15 minutes outside of downtown at a Greek inspired beach resort. Ack! It was winter time, so there was this quiet and isolated feeling around. Unfinished resorts linger on the coastline possibly due to the economic collapse that happened months eariler, people just sort of hanging around not doing much. I don't know. The area wasn't thrilling.



All catholic up in here

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What's a resort town without a bunch of phony surfboards advertising beer?

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In a laid back environment such as this, one needs to sit....a lot.

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Just in case you forgot that you were close to a beach

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This was the boardwalk next to the hotel. Barcelona and Miami Beach are safe for now.

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Despite hearing a hammer here or a drill there, the resorts under construction around us seemed to be in limbo.
The beach itself was nice, but the water didn't look (or smell) all that inviting

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There were some nice little homes around the beach

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The city of Xiamen is a city in transition. The old city has almost completely disappeared. All that is left are a few dozen oldies along the main shopping street and in the old city.
The new buildings are ok. Nothing too special.


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I can't tell if this hotel is old or made to look it

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The boardwalk downtown is nice

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Here are some shots of the new city


It's clean

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a little crowded

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its got a big port

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and very Chinese

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The area I really enjoyed was the old city. Full of interesting architecture, eclectic retail and blood

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Another part of Xiamen I liked was Gulangyu Island. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in beautiful colonial houses, decent beaches and great views.

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There aren't many cars or scooters on Gulangyu Island which makes for a pleasant walking experience. Most roads lead to old mansions now housing hotels and coffee shops

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The upper expressway in this picture is a BRT line. The bus stations are even elevated! I'm not sure why they didn't just build some rails and a few trains

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Gah! Nothing pisses me off more than seeing easy to clean garbage along a shoreline. Why are five people needed to rip my ticket in to a public park, but not one person is doing garbage duty along one of your biggest tourist attractions? If I ever become wealthy enough to never work again, I'm cleaning up China's beaches and parks. Seriously.

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They look clean from afar

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That's all from Gulangyu Island and Xiamen. Would I go back? I'm not sure. There are a million other places in China I'd like to see first.



Our next stop was Jinmen Island. The island belongs to Taiwan, but it is so close to Mainland China (an hour ferry ride from Xiamen) one would have to squint at a map to realize it. This was my first time back on Taiwanese soil in over three years. It felt great!

Jinmen Island is a military island. Going over on the ferry, you see signs on some of the smaller Taiwanese occupied islands facing China that read 'DEMOCRACY!!' in Chinese . Recently, it has opened up to the Chinese mainlanders. I believe 80% of the visitors to the island are mainland Chinese.



Music

http://www.zshare.net/audio/612179824073d5a4/



Once on the island we quickly rented a scooter and toured the tiny hamlet. The first thing we stumbled on were these old bunkers. I'm guessing they were for the Japanese during WWII.

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Being the curious cat that I am, I went inside to explore

A little strange

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Old children's drawings. Que the evil choir

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Hmmmm. I've walked in to a makeshift temple.

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When I asked my wife why someone would bother making a budget temple like this one when there are literally thousands in Taiwan, she said that not all gods are popular enough to get their own temple. Naturally, I asked which gods aren't the popular ones. The evil ones, she responded.

She didn't go anywhere near the temple. I did.

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I'm not a religious person, but I started to get creeped out by this place and left after this picture.

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We bounced from the supposedly evil temple and found an awesome old neighborhood

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After the neighborhood walkabout, we found a heavily fortified beach. I'm not sure these giant concrete slabs are needed anymore. China/Taiwan relations are the best they've ever been.

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Busted mansion close to the beach

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Jinmen's neighborhoods are typical Taiwanese; dense, busy and full of vitality.


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Our visit to Jinmen Island was short. We had more pressing matters on the main island to attend to.

The airport was filled with soldiers going home for Chinese new year. Service is mandatory in Taiwan. Every male must serve for two years.

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Back to my old stomping ground: Tainan. I lived here for three years.

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The improvements around the city, specifically the beach areas, were impressive. The water is now totally swimable.

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Garbage on the beach is a problem in Taiwan as well

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Didn't spend too much time in Tainan. Made a quick detour to Kenting for some sun and beach time. Unfortunately, the weather was shite despite the two pictures below you. It's Taiwan's southern most and warmest city, but the weather is always unpredictable.

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Signage along Kenting's main strip

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After Kenting, we headed to Kaohsiung; Taiwan's second largest city.

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Kaohsiung University. It's a pretty stunning campus.

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Kaohsiung's skyline from the university

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Kaohsiung opened its first two subway lines about two years ago. It's a very nice system.

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This is one of the main stations

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We had a dope view from our place

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Time to head north to Taipei.

Grab some tea eggs...

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jump on the high sped rail....

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and in 90 minutes you're there...

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And that's it.

Thanks for staying until the end

Last edited by giallo; June 14th, 2009 at 07:39 AM.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #2
Assemblage23
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Great tour.

Having a little explanation of each pictures makes things much easier to understand.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:29 AM   #3
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Nice. That shot with the buses in Taipei sort of looks like a New York City canyon. Would love to visit the city one day.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #4
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Interesting photos of Xiamen city; thanks for those
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Old June 15th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #5
Pansori
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Damn, giallo, your photos are just beyond anything. Really a pleasure to see.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #6
Cartel
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Nice tour man, loved it.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #7
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Lovely photos i really liked them
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 02:58 AM   #8
giallo
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Thanks for looking, guys. I appreciate it.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:06 PM   #9
Ethaniel83
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great journey and very nice pictures :>
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 01:05 AM   #10
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Same here, I enjoyed your little tour.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 08:20 PM   #11
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bloody awesome!
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Old July 6th, 2009, 08:24 PM   #12
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Great thread, great pics and comments!
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Old July 6th, 2009, 09:58 PM   #13
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Awesome tour!
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Old July 6th, 2009, 11:21 PM   #14
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Very interesting! Indeed, a very great thread!
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:04 AM   #15
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I'm going to Taipei for some 'urban adventures'. what is the best thing about Taipei where i can't get it in other chinese cities?
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OshHisham View Post
I'm going to Taipei for some 'urban adventures'. what is the best thing about Taipei where i can't get it in other chinese cities?
The night markets were the best for me when I visited Taipei. The food is great. Blending Chinese with Japanese influences.

As a non-urban adventure there is great nature just outside the city. Rivers to swim in and hot springs.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 10:25 AM   #17
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Fascinating, would love to visit both TAiwan and Xiamen. Your photos are some of the best I've seen from these places - thks for sharing.
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