I was going to start writing about Xiamen, China nostalgically until I remembered this isn’t a novel but a travel blog. So sorry memories, you’ll have to come in another form in another post.
To start off, I am very tough on critiquing Xiamen as a travel spot because, as some may know, this is where I called home for four years when I was merely but a teenager. This was a place that has grown exponentially from only having had two malls and no theatres to what is now, a busy city and a popular tourist location.
Unlike normal tourists, I did not go to the infamous Gu Lang Yu island because whenever I do have the chance to visit, to be honest it’s still the same as when I was 15 years old. Still full of stores of traditional Chinese calligraphy paintings, accessories strung together by fresh pearls being spat out from buckets of oysters, all laying on a pebble ground like it is in Greece (I presume). I did, however, have a chance to go back to some of the locations I used to visit when I was a kid, with my friends whom I still hold very fond memories of. I also got to stay in Langham Place, Xiamen, a hotel that wasn’t even built when I lived there (making me feel very old).
Langham Place, Xiamen, honestly makes me consider going to Xiamen more often if I stayed there every time. It was only a 15-minute cab ride from the airport (without traffic, Xiamen has officially been infected with heavy traffic jam nowadays…unlike when there used to be an over abundance of cabs just waiting around on empty streets). Located right beside Wanda Plaza means you can always trust there’s a variety of restaurants and shopping you can do. But I wasn’t there to shop! So I was very thankful of the food street by the mall.
Even without the mall being nearby, the hotel had its own restaurant outlets, making it all too easy to want to spend the entire day just lounging in this comfortable space. Asides from Ming Court, the sister of the Hong Kong michelin starred Cantonese restaurant and the L bar, The Place was a popular buffet choice due to its roomy interior and huge variety of cuisine.
The Place had a lot of different choices ranging from the standard iced seafood bar, sushi bar, and salad and cheese bar. I was most impressed by their large fruit selection. Already sizing up which fruit I’ll have to freshen up after the meal (spoiler alert: I was too full to eat any). The Indian cuisine is always something I’m most looking forward too, and this time I found myself excited for the amount of spicy Chinese dishes available as well. My favourite!
Breakfast at The Place is equally attractive with nothing less of a large quality line up of western and eastern breakfast items. The only reasonable activity after such heavy meals is of course, pool time!
Although I would’ve opted for an outdoor pool, the indoor one was just as serene. With floor to ceiling open windows, guiding in natural light, the entire pool area glistened and I felt totally relaxed afloat on the water.
Another restaurant I must feature is a local restaurant named Kitchen Heaven and man did they name themselves accurately. Their spicy boiled fish is perfectly spiced where your mouth feels a little numb but not too much so you can’t taste anything, leaving you to taste how tender and fresh of every slice of the fish.
One famous dessert item everyone must try when they visit Xiamen is the mango shaved snow. Overflowing with mango juices and big chunks of sweet juicy mangoes slathered over a mountain of creamy, snowy hybrid of ice and ice cream shavings, the perfect way to cool down in the summer heat. My favourite to add on are chewy taro glutinous balls. Yes, these are also items famous in Taiwan, and since Xiamen is located so closely to Taiwan, Xiamen has adapted a lot of similar food staples of the famous culinary destination.
I wasn’t lying when I said I didn’t visit many touristy locations asides from trying to eat at too many restaurants (I admit, it was a tad too ambitious). But one place I did insist on going was Zhongshanlu. This street was one of the places where young teenage Claudia would often hang around with her teenage friends.
Back then, the street had barely any stores, and definitely did not have its own food street, the road still hasn’t been blocked off from cars to become a pedestrian only tourist spot. Teenage Claudia and her friends would hang out in a McDonalds or KFC nearby after shopping in little boutique stores. This street, although now filled with souvenir stores, remains pretty close to teenage Claudia’s memory of the place.
I will always go back to Xiamen, even after a life changing event when it was harder to go back, it is a place that will always be close to my heart. This is also a huge part of my childhood and no matter how much Xiamen has changed, this is where I’ve met some of the most important people in my life and I’ll never forget that.