Today is the travel day from Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, to Xiamen, Fujian Province, China.
We took the metro from our hotel in Shenzhen to the Shenzhenbei Rail Station (Shenzhen North). This station is fairly new and large, and is well organized to accommodate huge volumes of passengers. Then we boarded the a semi-high speed train to Xiamen, which has a final destination to Shanghai.
We had purchased the tickets in advance online, which turned out to be a good idea since this was a weekend. Even though there were 4 trains per hour traveling this route, the train was filled to capacity. Many Chinese residents are using the trains as their primary mode of transportation these days, and perhaps people are still returning home from the Chinese New Year holidays.
The train was comfortable and clean. Food is available for sale. When we did not see coffee being offered for sale, I was able to order it, and it was brought to us piping hot and delicious. The coffee was pricey though, at 15 yuan ($2.50 USD) each. Most people paid for their food purchases using WeChat scan. Our purchase using cash was not the norm.
Three hours and fifty minutes later, our train arrived at the Xiamenbei (Xiamen north) rail station. The station connects directly to the Xiamen metro station so we were able to ride the metro to our hotel without any hassle. Xiamen’s metro system is similar to Hong Kong’s and Shenzhen’s, with the same automated kiosks, tokens, gates, and signage.
Xiamen (means a gate of China) is a popular tourist city for the mainland Chinese population as well as overseas Chinese, being their hometown. It is famous for its seascape, and has been one of the major seaport since ancient times.
Our first impression is that of an affluent city, orderly and clean. The metro system is extensive but there are also many expensive and new vehicles on the road.
Our hotel is close to the Zhongshan Park, the flower road, and the financial district so we began our city orientation by visiting the Zhongshan Park.
Built in 1927, Xiamen Zhongshan Park was the first park in Xiamen and is one of the earliest urban parks in China. It is named after Dr. Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925), a Chinese politician who established the Republic of China by overthrowing the rule of China’s last emperor. But the park was poorly maintained over the years and important architectural elements were neglected. It was outdated and no longer cohesive. A renewal of the park was recently completed. There is a flower exhibition gallery, a really big and well designed children paradise playground, a zoo, ornate bridges over lakes, lots of greenery and plants. Last but not least, there is of course a statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen.
Then we walked through the Flower Street. It had many flower vendors with flowers of every color and variety for sale. One vendor was prepping a white Range Rover SUV with a pile of red roses for a wedding.
Then we spotted a small restaurant at the end of the street that had some local specialties for an early dinner.
After the dinner, we still had some room to try out one of the many food delights of this city, the bean paste pastries, known for their soft and smooth texture with exterior golden crust that is at least six layers. We tried the red bean and the black sesame ones today but will surely try the other flavors like pineapple, pomelo, coconut flakes on another day.
The final item of the day was to withdraw a large sum of RMB in preparation for our trip out of the city to Fujian villages where the Hakka toulous are located. Within the smaller cities and especially the villages, ATM accepting foreign ATM cards may not be available. It is always a good idea to plan in advance and withdraw cash in advance while in the large cities such as Xiamen where it is easy to find ATM on an international network.