Thursday, October 30, 2008

Xiamen vs Singapore

One should never have a mindset that China is a backward country; many a times, their system works cleverly for control of their immense populations.

1. Public Buses. We were impressed with their transport system. Though without the Mass Rapid Transit, the public bus transport network was efficient and never over crowding, except during peak hours of 6-7 pm.

Their many bus service numbers overlaps each running routes meaning we don't have to wait for a specific bus number to board - there are more than 1 bus number for our destination, waiting time is therefore minimal.

For a net price of $1 Yuen per person, we could travel any distance.

Bus routes were clearly displayed (in Chinese only) and as tourist, you don't have to worry about missing a stop as the buses stopped at every stop. Yeah, you don't have to flag them down either :)

I kind of miss their buses while cramped on the MRT ride this morning.

2. Traffic Signals. There's the 'Countdown' display for both the pedestrians and motorists, which feels somewhat better than just having amber lighting which you may experience sudden brake to stop as it turns red.

3. Going Green. We were caught unprepared and forced to getting used to bringing our own bags for purchases made ranging from supermarkets, bread shops and even fashion outlets.

Their nation wide ban on use of plastic bags was truly commendable; everyone have their own recycle bags.

We really should step up our efforts here; limit 1 plastic bag to 1 customer perhaps - cos' it's really inconvenient when you buy a lot at the supermart and found your bags ran out.

4. Renaming of Bishan Rd (in Gulangyu Island) versus our 碧山路.

5. Service Charges. No +++ in restaurant dining!! It's such a breeze and rather not getting used to dining without paying for those extra charges. Even tea and serviettes are not separately charged - unbelievable!

Only a +4% above our hotel room charges.

6. Channel Surfing. There are 60 free-to-air channels from our hotel room, channels from Inner Mongolian, Beijing, Xingjiang and Chongqing the various China provinces.

Which channel are you on now? There are 6 on my guessing list :)

7. Bargain Hunting. Don't be too happy when the retailer finally gave way to your bargaining, the norms are that the weighing machines have already been calibrated to their advantage ;)

Buying from the Mega Marts is safer, but do note that items are priced by per 500 grams and not per kg. They've got Carrefour, Wal-mart, Trust-mart.

8. Train Spotting. Ric spotted this long truck; i don't suppose we have this in Singapore?

9. Cheers! The cost of China beer is about Y$3 a bottle here. They're light & smooth to drink; we share a bottle almost everyday :)

10. Watering. It's watering of the public road as this keeps the atmosphere cool and fresh from dust. Cute "Happy Birthday" tunes play from the water truck as it moves along.

All in all, it's still Home Sweet Home.

I was on a start with a flu and cough, and guess it's time to go home to mom's home cook goodness. And we were happy to be back after our tireless roaming in a strange land.

Our home coming was greeted with the coziness of the Changi Airport Arrival Terminal, hefty taxi charges and of course, a good home-cooked dinner i much missed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Xiamen D8 - 椰风寨

I couldn't resist coming to the beaches again, just before our flight back tomorrow. This time, we took an extended bus service from the Xiamen University to 椰风寨, the further end of the beaches.

If i may say so, this is the coldest part of Xiamen! I had to double up my shirt with my new bought long-sleeves blouse.

The strong gusty wind was lifting the sand along the beaches, and what a sight if you could keep your eyes open!

But it's a pity that the cloudy sky today hide the sunset from us, unlike during our previous visit where the sun sets gloriously on us.

Later we shopped at the shopping streets of Xiamen University and was tempted to dine at the many little eateries there but a safer bet would be to dine at Ajisen restaurant.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Xiamen D7 - Ajisen, a must eat in China

Ajisen Ramen is a must eat for us whenever we are in China because the prices here are half of that of Singapore!

After a cozy dinner here, we have to be back to our hotel, that's just next door, for some luggage packing; tomorrow's our last day here.

The price of a bowl of basic Ramen at Y$18 is equivalent to S$3.93 only. At this rates conversion, even the more sophisticated bowl of Y$25-29 is very much affordable.

Pan Fried Gyozas (Y$6)

Nothings less than what we usually get in Singapore.

Tonight's dinner, that comes with complimentary free flow of aromatic green tea (real tea leaves, not tea powder) sets us back at S$9.17 only :)

Xiamen D7 - Gifts/ Souvenir Shops

Souvenir Shops or better known as 精品店 could be found in popular shopping belts of the youngsters, yes places like our Bugis Streets.

But unlike our local gifts shops, their gifts shops were so cozily decorated that it simply draws us in. Each shop has their individualistic do up; it interests you and makes you want to take a closer look inside.

And possibly, own a piece of the warm...

At 中山路 Shopping Area.

At University Shopping Belt, 厦大商业街

Yes, i do have my reaps :))

Xiamen D7 - McDonald's China

We were sure grateful for having McDonald's in every of our travel trips. Their friendly staffs cheers your way, free use of clean toilets, air-conditioning respite from the warm weather and tasty food when you can't get accustomed to the local fare.

Great value too; with discount coupons.

Do check out the McDonald's in cities you travel; they always offer different varieties of food to cater to suit the local taste buds. So much for their R&D kitchen!

Below are just 2 items that we don't find in Singapore.

Dual layer of Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich, hot and extra spicy yet tender and ever so juicy. McDonald's seldom disappoint erh?

A drink that looks kind of weird to us in the first place actually tasted superb! Vanilla ice-cream mixed into F&N Fanta Orange tastes fantastic!

It's a very popular beverage among the youngsters here, every table were having it. I wish they would bring this to Singapore; probably for the Chinese New Year Season?

Xiamen D7 - Gulangyu 鼓浪屿 (Pt2)

Yeah! Couldn't wait to see the rest of Gulangyu's historic buildings after our visit few days back along its coastal section.

With our brief map of the island in hand, Ric leads the way - i was too slow in directions orientation :)

Another relaxing day, our paces slowed as we relish on the historic architectural beauty and character of these old buildings.

Xiamen D7 - Favorite Snack in Gulangyu

Yeshi flour cake, 叶氏麻米兹 is my must eat in Gulangyu Island, and for every tourist here too :)

A very simple flour cake which holds Sugar, Peanuts and plenty of Black Sesame. Its chewy texture and lightly sweet aromatic content draws them many overseas fans.

Y$1 for a piece.

Xiamen D7 - First Church in China

I was surprised to learn that the oldest church building set up in China was in Xiamen Island! And just next to our hotel by the busiest streets of 中山路!

We had to visit them, of course.

The well-known 新街堂 was built in 1848 after the end of the first Opium War.

For 13 years, church activities were halted from 1966 to 1979 due to the Cultural Revolution, but the building reopened in August 1979. Then in 1982 the local government declared the church a protected historical location.

Re-construction works were all over the surrounding sites of the church, new shopping malls and development goes up, but gladly the church stays.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Xiamen D6 - Beef Noodle Again!

With boxes of Nanputuo Temple's cookies in hand, we rode through the busy streets of 中山路 to dinner at 泉州牛肉面 again.

This repeat visit here was purposely to try its Vegetable Rice i last seen many ordering it, it reminds me of the home cooked version mom had always prepared for us.

Topped with fried onion oil 葱头油, the rice was simply aromatic... yum yum.

And Ric top up my rice with my favourite cooked egg styled in hard boil after seeing other customers doing the same :) happy.

Vegetable Rice (¥2), egg (¥1)

Chewy & bouncy Beef Ball Soup (¥6)

Braised Beef Steak Bee Hoon (¥7)

I shall definitely be back, shall i step on Xiamen's soil again. Is Xiamen a boring place to holiday? Not now i think.

Xiamen D6 - Xiamen University Beaches

A direct bus from the city took us to Pearl Bay, 珍珠湾 the beach next to the Xiamen University that boosts a scenic boardwalk of 10km length.

Taking a walk along the sea at Baicheng, 厦大白城.

Despite the Saturday beach crowds, the vast ocean view, extensive beaches and flapping of the sea waves help restore one's peace of mind.

It's a beautiful beach.