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.
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
What's a resort town without a bunch of phony surfboards advertising beer?
In a laid back environment such as this, one needs to sit....a lot.
Just in case you forgot that you were close to a beach
This was the boardwalk next to the hotel. Barcelona and Miami Beach are safe for now.
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
There were some nice little homes around the beach
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.
I can't tell if this hotel is old or made to look it
The boardwalk downtown is nice
Here are some shots of the new city
a little crowded
its got a big port
and very Chinese
The area I really enjoyed was the old city. Full of interesting architecture, eclectic retail and blood
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.
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
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
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.
They look clean from afar
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.
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.
Being the curious cat that I am, I went inside to explore
A little strange
Old children's drawings. Que the evil choir
Hmmmm. I've walked in to a makeshift temple.
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.
I'm not a religious person, but I started to get creeped out by this place and left after this picture.
We bounced from the supposedly evil temple and found an awesome old neighborhood
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.
Busted mansion close to the beach
Jinmen's neighborhoods are typical Taiwanese; dense, busy and full of vitality.
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.
Back to my old stomping ground: Tainan. I lived here for three years.
The improvements around the city, specifically the beach areas, were impressive. The water is now totally swimable.
Garbage on the beach is a problem in Taiwan as well
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.
Signage along Kenting's main strip
After Kenting, we headed to Kaohsiung; Taiwan's second largest city.
Kaohsiung University. It's a pretty stunning campus.
Kaohsiung's skyline from the university
Kaohsiung opened its first two subway lines about two years ago. It's a very nice system.
This is one of the main stations
We had a dope view from our place
Time to head north to Taipei.
Grab some tea eggs...
jump on the high sped rail....
and in 90 minutes you're there...
And that's it.
Thanks for staying until the end