Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Weekend Trip to Xiamen - Gulangyu and Seafood Restaurant

I went to Xiamen with my mom for the long weekend… and boy, do I wish we hadn't come during the May holidays!  In addition to the long lines and crowds of people, we also had to deal with incessant rain (but thankfully only on our first day there).  I didn't realize that May 1 was such a big deal in the People's Republic of China.  Oops...and let the record show that I. will. never. forget. this. important. fact. again.

Upon landing at the Xiamen airport, you see cranes, cabs and commercials.  Sigh… this was an omen of the things to come.
We stayed at Le Meridien in Xiamen, which was a nice soothing oasis from the hustle and bustle of the hectic city and downtown area.  It was also pretty far, with a long winding road up to the hotel, so that taxi drivers didn't really want to take us.

We went to Gulyangyu on our first day.  Here is a view of the ferry port:

and here is a view of Xiamen:

The rain did not deter any of the locals from gamely stepping out with umbrellas and shoes and embracing their holidays.  You have to admire the local spirit.  I would like to point out the abundance of rainbow umbrellas (how wonderful is that?) and the multitude of plastic booties (meant to go over the shoes to keep them dry).
While walking the streets of Gulangyu, we saw a lot of little shops and historic-looking buildings:
 We also saw lots of seafood restaurants with random buckets of unidentifiable sea creatures crawling about.

 Also quite a few sausages… Taiwanese style sausages, supposedly.
One of my favorite shots from the trip, undoubtedly:
  A lot of the buildings are old, lending our stroll a quaint, otherworldly air.

After our trip to Gulangyu, we went to a seafood restaurant in Xiamen called "The Little Octopus".  They had live tanks full of shrimp, fish and seafood.  We were thinking of choosing a fish, and leaning toward splurging on one, when the guy, without a second's hesitation, scooped it up in his net and threw it on the floor.  His colleague immediately smacked the fish with the stick, beaning it with one decisive blow so that it stopped thrashing.  I was nearly breathless with how quickly and how violent the actions were.  I couldn't believe that the fish, one second swimming so happily in its tank, was now stunned and nearly dead in its plastic bag.
Ah, well.  I guess you can't ever accuse the Chinese about being sentimental about their food.

We sat down to a nice, fresh meal of fresh boiled shrimp (so tender and sweet!)
The fish was cooked two ways - with the head in a soup and the body steamed in a light soy and scallion and ginger sauce.

We ordered watercress vegetables stir fried in garlic.

My mom in front of our feast!
My mom and I are really good at eating things clean - here is the aftermath of the fish!
A view of the fresh tanks of the restaurant as we left - it was a good meal, but it was definitely very expensive.  We got taken… but I guess we were okay with it.  Ultimately, you win some and you lose some.

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