There’s something dreamy to me about China and Taiwan. It’s a bit hard to explain. It’s like you’re stepping into another world. I haven’t found the same type of feeling on anywhere else on my travels, not even Hong Kong or Macao. Both of which are to a political extent under the rule of The People’s Republic of China (at least in some frame or form). Even a bus journey in rural China has some kind of disconnected quality about it. Such was the charm of this one.
Our morning bus journey began by car. Yes, we were picked up at the hostel by the owner in his car, around 7.30 am I think. We stayed in The Hotel of Qingde (basically an old Fujian Earthen Building) in the Taxia Village, in Shuyang Town.
Panny in the car. We were taken to the very edge of Shuyang Town. Quite far away from where we stayed. We couldn’t have walked it.
This remote wall seemed like it marked the edge of Shuyang Town. We were dumped out in the middle of nowhere! At one point I really doubted if there was a bus from this remote narrow road all the way to the city of Xiamen.
Our driver pulling away by this bridge. We were to wait by the side of the road.
This was the only road sign in the area. We were the only two people in sight and it was about 7.40 am. The hostel owner told us there would be a bus before 8 am. Panny believed it. I wasn’t so sure. We weren’t even at a bus stop! But then again, this is China.
There was a large entrance arch however over the road on the other side of the crossroads. This was advertising the fact that this is the entry point into the Fujian Tulou Scenic Area. We had done the Fujian Tulou tour the previous day.
Panny Yu was in control. China is her forte in travel. She’s been all over her motherland, and her dual lingual knowledge of Putonghua (Mandarin) and Guangdonghua (Cantonese) comes in handy. She did map and bus timetable reading while we lingered at this ominous non existent bus stop.
The view glancing back at the suburbs of Shuyang Town are typical of China. Concrete lego block style housing, nestled in tidy communities in front of gaping mountains, smoggy sky and that sense of wonder and intrigue that lurks in the People’s Republic.
In the meanwhile our view was of this lonely, rarely used road on the edge of town. If the bus stop was non-existent, then the buses at least were. We saw a few pass. I was tempted to yell out, and get on them, but Panny said they weren’t ours. Most Northern Irish people, I’d imagine cannot read Chinese bus routes, or the destination boards on Chinese buses.
A few more travellers turned up but went straight through the tunnel.
Waiting patiently by the road side in Shuyang Town for the Xiamen Bus. Probably just after 8am and just before the bus arrived.
And then out of nowhere, a silver bus arrives! It’s heading to Xiamen! Panny and I hop on board and off we go!!
Our bus arrives, with the bonus of having two empty seats together.
The view from my seat on the bus. The price was 45 Yuan (RMB). Decent enough for a 4 hour drive to the seaside island city of Xiamen.
Panny and I relax on route to Xiamen. The bus did fill up a bit but we could both enjoy a wee sleep, a gaze out at typificational Chinese countryside side, a visit to iPod land and a beer for myself.
Derelict buildings give that eerie impression of a failed communist ideal. “We started but we ran out of money so we didn’t finish”. I could be wrong of course. I wouldn’t be surprised if these types of buildings can be found in North Korea.
I’m surely not the only one who enjoys the countryside from bus and train windows. When I used to travel I never took any photos of these parts of the journey (mostly to save film, battery and when they came out SD cards). These days; I’m snap happy with it.
We passed countless banana fields, and it got a bit hotter. This was another incentive for me to drink my beer, before it got too warm to be of any value.
Leave your preconceptions of China at home. A smoggy sky they may have, but the glorious countryside underneath rarely disappoints.
So China is communist in principle and the lack of commercial advertising backs this system up. You rarely see large global companies advertising, especially away from the major cities. The most common advertising I found to be was property and beer. Again, that could be well off the mark, but it was my take on it.
You can get lost in countless banana fields. I daresay you could get work here no problem. The hours and salary might not be what you crave though.
Another random Chinese city crops up in the background. I estimated this was the city of Zhangzhou, which falls just over half way on the trip and seems to be an urban sprawl.
The city of Zhangzhou, at least for argument’s sake…
Devouring a beer on route. It had kept remarkably cold. No idea why!
After Zhangzhou more mountains, bridges, factories and banana fields mixed up the route to give us enough diversity on route to the island city of Xiamen.
A pretty river.
Being in Banana land, we made a few stops on route, one in what seemed to be a banana town. We just had to buy some bananas. They won’t come cheaper or fresher than this!
Panny in Banana Town, somewhere near Zhangzhou.
Bananas! And much more than I’d seen while living in Australia.
Muddy desert type terrain offers proof that Chinese countryside is as eclectic as your U2 back catalogue.
I was sipping a beer when vintage China went flying by.
Petrol meter. I assume that is 73 Yuan per litre/gallon. Probably cheaper than it costs in Northern Ireland or England.
The banana woman selling bananas!
Massive residential buildings, again this must have been in or around Zhangzhou, which has a lengthy sprawl according to the below map, which is also the rough route of our bus:
The blue route is the way we probably went, leaving Shuyang Town for Xiamen, itself on an island.
Typical Chinese road culture.
You’ll have to forgive me for not knowing the exact locations of these interesting photos. A lady selling inflatable balloons, some skyscrapers and some bridges all gave our eyes a pleasing mix.
Sky blue bridges.
A nice hillside Pagoda was on view out the left hand window.
Soon we had crossed another main bridge and it was obvious that the skyscraping metropolis of Xiamen was nearing.
The edge of Xiamen. Small lego block typical Chinese flats lurk shyly in front of the new skyscrapers. This is a trendy up and coming Chinese city.
A few photos of Panny on the bridge to Xiamen.
The approach to Xiamen.
Skyscrapers in Xiamen. Songs like a song title from a dodgy 1980s punk band. And it could well even be.
There was nothing immediately striking about Xiamen. No “Wow!” factor, that didn’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy it. Relaxing on a bus miles from Bangor in Northern Ireland entering yet another new city life was sweet.
A road sign through some trees from the bus window. Yes, most of the photos here are taken from the bus window. Well come on, it’s a blog about a bus trip…
Xiamen was hot and another thing I suddenly thought of, was How do you pronounce this city??? It was only the third city I had been to beginning with the letter X – the other two were in Taiwan in 2009: Xincheng and Xinying. Although Xinying is most commonly spelt in English with an “s”. Panny alerted me the easiest way to say the name of the city is Sha Men. Which immediately reminded me of a psychadelic rock band bearing the same name.
Two large skyscrapers – most probably residential.
And just before noon we had successfully arrived in the city of Xiamen. This travelling rollercoaster was all it cracked up to be. As we exited we decided to first find a toilet, then get another bus (a local one) down to the seafront for food. This was also Panny’s first time in Xiamen.
The bus station at Xiamen, or as translation experts will tell you Xiamen Travel Distribution Center
We had just got off the Hu Bin Long Distance Bus and were now in Xiamen.
A posh spa complex sat next door which is where we popped to use the toilet.
Reception in the bus station.
An Ulsterman arrives in Xiamen – complete with that Northern Ireland flag which has been flown in over 400 cities now.
Like almost every story on this round ball, this one isn’t over yet. We had arrived in Xiamen, now it was time to see the city and travel over to the island of Gu Lang Yu. Xiamen incidentally is also known as Amoy and is the provincial capital city of Fujian.
From – Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, Fujian Province
To – Xiamen, Fujian Province
Transport Used – Bus
Nationalities Met – Chinese
Key Song –
THE SHAMEN – MOVE ANY MOUNTAIN:
My Videos –
7.40 AM IN SHUYANG TOWN WAITING ON BUS:
ON BOARD THE BUS FROM SHUYANG TOWN TO XIAMEN:
HAVING A BEER ON THE SHUYANG TOWN TO XIAMEN BUS:
PASSING BANANA TOWNS ON THE BUS:
ARRIVAL BY BUS ON EDGE OF XIAMEN:
ARRIVAL IN XIAMEN: