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Wonderful Times Together

Popularity 8Viewed 3561 times 2015-8-12 20:32 |Personal category:Travel|System category:Life| xiamen, meet, travel, together

In the early morning of Saturday, August 1, I got up earlier than usual. I put a backpack on my back, and had a tripod on my shoulder, and headed towards Shenzhen North Station. From there, I was going to take a train to Xiamen, a city which I'd never been to. The journey took me about four hours, and I was lucky to get a seat near the window of the train. I plugged earbuds into my ears, and started listening to music. While my eyes kept looking at the outside of the window, I was thinking about how we're going to meet and how we are going to spend our times together.

Just two days before this trip, when I'd made my decision to go there and meet Ron, I called him and told him my schedule about the trip. I asked him if he had time to meet me that weekend. He said: yes, we could meet at Saturday afternoon.

So, at Saturday afternoon, half an hour before the scheduled arrival time, I got a text message from Ron. He said he's waiting for me at the Xiamen North Station. He gave me a brief description about his precise location and the clothes he's wearing, just to make sure I didn't miss him in the crowd.

Ron was certainly recognizable as he's the only foreigner in the crowd. Ron asked me if I was hungry. I said not so much. He gave me an IC card, with which I could take public transportation in the city. I followed him to a BRT station where we had our bags searched before we got in. When we were on BRT, Ron started to take out his iPad in order to show me the pictures he'd taken while he's on his holiday in Canada just a few weeks ago. Some of those pictures I'd seen before, because he had already shared them on Moments. As he was sharing pictures, he talked about things that were shown on pictures.

I could have met him a month earlier, before he returned to Canada for his vacation. When I first expressed my willingness to meet him a month ago, he said it's a good idea, but he's busy preparing for the trip back home. Then, I said, I could wait till he comes back. He revealed some of his plans for his vacation, and showed me pictures of his tent with which he's going to camp in parks in Canada. He promised to show me more pictures as he goes on vacation. So during his travel back home, when he visited a new place, he could post some interesting pictures on his Moments. Every time I saw those pictures, I'd know he'd a wonderful time there, and I'd be happy about that.

I told him I wanted to visit Gulangyu, so as soon as we got off BRT, he brought me to a ferry where we could buy our ferry tickets to that island. When we got close to the counter, we were told that tickets were only sold to Xiamen citizens. There's another counter nearby that sells tickets to outsiders, but it's closed and I was not sure when it would open. It's a bit sad that tickets for locals and outsiders are sold separately. Left with no options, I asked a staff standing nearby, how can we get a ticket. He said we could buy it on Wechat. Then I told Ron that we could first go to find a restaurant nearby, and during our lunch, I could buy our tickets on Wechat with my cellphone.

As we were having our lunches, I was scrambling for our tickets online. Since all tickets were sold out for this afternoon, I bought two tickets for Sunday afternoon.

That afternoon, we went to Xiamen University, since I was told that its campus is very beautiful. At the gate, there's a lineup, most of people in the line were tourists. When we finally got in, I was shocked to find that it's more a tourist attraction than a university. Looking around, I saw people were shooting pictures of the school buildings at the lakeside, leaving behind them trashes on the ground. With booming tourism, comes business opportunities. I even saw several peddlers were selling selfie sticks in campus. I couldn't deny the beauty of the campus, but I had to keep myself constantly reminded that this is a place for learning while everything around me tried to tell me otherwise.

Xiamen University

In the next morning, Ron and I were met nearby his apartment. Since we were quite close to the sea, he took me to a beach where we could take a stroll before we took a BRT to the ferry. As we walked along the beach, Ron told that this long stretch of sand beach was once nonexistent when he first came here years ago. The sand was dumped here only in recent years to create this artificial beach. As we were walking past a group of young people, a guy greeted Ron with a hello. Ron said hello back. The group then went away, with smiling on their face. I told Ron that he's popular here, then he told me another story. There's once a driver went so far as to get off his car to say hello to him as he's walking on the sidewalk. When he said hello back to him, it turned out that he didn’t have anything to say anymore. "Maybe that's all what they've got." Ron laughed.

Beach we walked along

When we landed on the island, we didn't know where we should start exploring. I told Ron since he's been here several times, he could be my tour guide. He suggested we first take a look at the map of the island, then we could decide where to go. So we went to a map near the ferry, and he asked me where I wanted to go. I pointed my finger at Zhengchenggong Memorial Museum located at the center of the island, then northward at former U.S. Embassy. "How about these two places", I asked him. To which, Ron agreed.

We started our exploration from the northwestern tip of the island, then made our way to the center in search of the Memorial Museum. We didn't find the museum there, instead, we went to a forest where there were a variety of birds. There, we shot a lot of pictures of different birds that we'd never seen before. We spent a lot of time in front of a waterfall, a place where we could see many birds flying around. I asked Ron to sit on a bench in a shelter, so that I could take pictures of him against the waterfall. It turned out to be a great setting as we reviewed our pictures on camera. We also took turns to shoot pictures of each other standing and sitting on a wooden bridge.

The next place we went was called Sunlight Rock. It's said that if you don't go to the top of that rock, you've never been to Xiamen. Maybe, that's why so many people were visiting there. I thought the top would be very high, but when we found that we could reach the top without breaking a sweat, I was not that impressed. On the top, we could get a bird's-eye view of the whole island, and it's also the place where we got quite a lot of memorable pictures.

Top of the Sunlight Rock

When we got off the Rock, we started to find our way back to the ferry where the exploration got started. As the sun went down, we boarded a ferry and said goodbye to a piece of land where we spent our most memorable times together.

Overlooking the city on Sunlight Rock

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Recent comments

  • My Second Trip to Tanzania 2016-3-17 10:25

    RonJaDa: Hey Cody, that sound like a scary experience,  it is hard to know what to do.  I am glad you got through safe and did not encounter more serious probl ...
    Hi, Ron, thank you very much for your concern and kind suggestions. Yes, it's a valuable lesson for me.

  • My Second Trip to Tanzania 2016-3-10 19:39

    Hey Cody, that sound like a scary experience,  it is hard to know what to do.  I am glad you got through safe and did not encounter more serious problems.

    My recommendation would be to talk to your boss about it to ensure you are covered for future trips. If you legally have to declare a business trip and get the $250 visa, your company should be able to add that cost to your customers bill for your trip.

    It is always hard knowing how to deal with corrupt officials, but I guess this is a valuable lesson for you.

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