Hunan and Fujian province. The first, home to a capital city with super human feats of national pride (Hunan=birthplace of the Chairman. Chairman=Superman). The other a province of balmy and beautiful port cities, Taiwanese food stalls and unique dialects. Not to mention the province is also home to an awesome maritime, piano and organ museum (I may be a nerd). For the past three weeks I've committed my life and my exploring energies to these two provinces. I've only seen eight provinces in China so far (stop counting!!) but the gap between these two places has to be the biggest I've seen so far. I took a plane from Changsha, the uber-nationalistic capital in question, to Xiamen; the biggest city in Fujian province that's a mix of old town New Orleans (with Chinese characteristics) and the palm-tree lined highways of south coastal America. Xiamen natives are nostalgically referred to as the Amoy people, taken from the Amoy dialect of the south Fujian coast. It was a cheap, one hour flight....27 times faster and only three times more expensive. It's no excuse but I was pretty giddy to see Xiamen. By the way where's the eccentric traveler in me who can willfully stand for 25 hours on a train to get from middle of nowhere to even more middle of nowhere? The one who will wear the same clothes for 72 hours straight and on an empty stomach travel on a rickety railroad from sunrise to sunset no sweat? Sometimes I'm not as hardcore as I'd like to be. But having spent the day literally crossing Hunan province...first by taxi from Phoenix town to a random bus station, a two-hour bus ride, then a tuktuk (with Chinese characteristics) to the train station, seven hour train ride (live chickens and all), and finally another bus to the airport, a pretty small check-in line by Chinese standard followed by a mere two-hour flight I was like, "Palm trees? Yes please."
|Xiamen by night|
The flight to Xiamen served dried kumquats...just a preview of what Fujian province would be like. My mouth was still burning from all the Hunan chili centered food I'd had in Changsha, Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang. You think Chinese cuisine is filled with rice? Well replace the amount of rice you picture with fried red chilies, and you get Hunan cuisine. When I landed (and saw palm trees!) I realized that Xiamen was the most south I'd ever been in Asia. I became even more giddy for the months to come, and all the travel plans I hadn't made but knew were gonna happen. The airport taxi dropped me off at a gated colonial style hostel complete with a dimly lit garden. Hooray! I ate fresh bread in the morning and delicious seafood soup for dinner.The Amoy-style seafood soup I had was mouth watering but definitely devoid of hot spice...I'd tasted more spice in my St-Hubert bouillon (Montreal shout out!). Very un-Hunan. I loved it anyway. Although it was off putting not to have to run to the bathroom afterwards. Never mind. It was great. Holler back to my Amoy peeps. I spent three days wandering around and the people were inviting, the fruit markets bustling, and I found some second hand bookstores. Not too shabby. I did miss the colourful Miao ladies, and it was off putting to walk the streets without having to dodge tour groups and their crazy tour guides (those megaphones they use are HUGE!). And my insides were still adjusting to the red chili detox.
|Changsha, capital of Hunan province by day|
Labels: amoy, changsha, colonialism, fujian, hunan, redchili, xiamen