Backpacking in Xiamen: My First ‘X’ City, Fujian, China

Jonny Blair in Xiamen, Fujian, China - living a lifestyle of travel

Xiamen – my first X city! Sitting relaxing by the harbour!

Xiamen intrigued me immediately for one peculiar reason – it’s beginning letter. I was sure that until 2012 I had never been to a city beginning with the letter ‘x’. The nearest I had come was when I was in Taiwan and got a train at Xincheng Station near Hualien, and stayed in the city of Shinying (sometimes called Xinying). So after an epic trip through the Fujian Tulou buildings in the centre of the Fujian Province near Yongding, I hopped on a bus from Shuyang Town to Xiamen. The ‘X’ City by the harbour in Fujian Province, China! By the way, China has a few other cities beginning with ‘X’, namely Xian and Xinyuan. It’s also worth noting that you may also know Xiamen as ‘Amoy’ – some people call it ‘Amoy’, the reason for which I never worked out.

Jonny Blair on a bus through Fujian to Xiamen living a lifestyle of travel

Arrival in the city of Xiamen was by bus from Shuyang. As with most of my travels in China, I was in awe of the views out the bus windows.

Xiamen is a growing industrial metropolis, in fact it’s an odd city. It seems to appear richer than it is. Gasping skyscrapers and state of the art fashion shops all make an appearance in the city centre and top world brands flash their lights in a city which has Chinese backstreets and typical factories. A harbour front with a view looks over to the marvellous island of Gu Lang Yu (also worth a visit and I wrote about it on that link).

Jonny Blair the travelling Northern Irishman in Xiamen China

I arrived in Xiamen at the bus station, known in English as “Xiamen Travel Distribution Center”!

The Portuguese, the British, the French and the Dutch for some reason all tried to unsuccessfully make Xiamen a main port for trade. The fact that it was unsuccessful probably explains why Hong Kong (once British) and Macao (once Portuguese) have infinitely more foreign culture influences than the neglected Xiamen. In Xiamen, some colonial buildings aside, you basically know you are in China. Let’s get back to the word ‘neglected’, as perhaps that is harsh. Xiamen is enjoying somewhat of a boom at present, with lots of Chinese factories nearby and the new rail links making this a decent port for trade. New offices and stylish apartments are being built in skyscrapers. Indeed I was surprised to hear that this city houses over 600,000 people.

Jonny Blair the travelling Northern Irishman in Xiamen Fujian China

Xiamen’s bus network takes something to get used to!!

One other thing of note is that Xiamen itself is an island called Xiamen, and the city called Xiamen is on the island of Xiamen. The prettiest part of Xiamen is the seafront, which is also great for eating out as you relax by the waterside. The most difficult part is negotiating the bus network. I have an advantage over other foreign visitors to Xiamen in that my girlfriend speaks, reads and writes Chinese! If it wasn’t for her, I’d have been lost.

Jonny Blair a lifestyle of travel in Xiamen Fujian China

Enjoying a spicy beef meal by the harbour at Xiamen – decent place to eat!

We didn’t stay overnight in Xiamen, as out flight was around midnight, but a day there is worth doing and there is a hostel there, with a website here: Xiamen International Youth Hostel . In terms of sightseeing in the city, basically there isn’t too much – the harbour front is great for a walk and the Nanputuo Temple is recommended. A university, a museum of Chinese overseas communities and a fortress are other possible sights but don’t forget to get the ferry across to Gu Lang Yu while you’re there!

Jonny Blair Don't Stop Living Xiamen to Hong Kong flight

Xiamen Airport – we flew out to Hong Kong.

Xiamen was the final stop on our short tour of the Fujian Province and a decent place to end it. We flew out of Xiamen Airport direct to Hong Kong. There will be one more story to follow at some point on Xiamen and that is on my odd quest to find an Irish Pub there!! Thanks to Xiamen for being my first ‘X’ city.

For the sake of it, I compiled an A – Z list of towns and cities I’ve been to (of course this list is only one for each letter) but it was nice to complete my A – Z. If Xiamen and X completed my list in 2012, the list began in 1980 when I was born in Newtownards, included under letter N:

Asuncion, PARAGUAY
Bogota, COLOMBIA
Caracas, VENEZUELA
Durban, SOUTH AFRICA
Exeter, ENGLAND
Florence, ITALY
Gaborone, BOTSWANA
Hong Kong Island, HONG KONG
Incheon, SOUTH KOREA
Jakarta, INDONESIA
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
Ljubljana, SLOVENIA
Magdeberg, GERMANY
Newtownards, NORTHERN IRELAND
Ollantaytambo, PERU
Paramaribo, SURINAME
Quito, ECUADOR
Recife, BRAZIL
Swansea, WALES
Toronto, CANADA
Ushuaia, ARGENTINA
Vaduz, LIECHTENSTEIN
Warsaw, POLAND
Xiamen, CHINA
Yarram, AUSTRALIA
Zurich, SWITZERLAND

Final point – Xiamen is actually pronounced “Shaa Menn”, reminding me of the rock band The Shamen for some odd reason, therefore here’s one of their songs:

The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode:

My Videos of Xiamen:

The bus on the way in to Xiamen (from Shuyang Town):

On a local bus in Xiamen city centre:

By Xiamen waterfront:

Overlooking the city of Xiamen from Gu Lang Yu Island:

A taxi through Xiamen:

For all my China posts try here – Don’t Stop Living – China. One of the decent recent ones was on Tiger Leaping Gorge. I LOVE travelling in China.

Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel is written by Jonny Blair – the travelling Northern Irishman!

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