A Travellerspoint blog

January 2007

Xiamen: Taiwan Cruise N Nanputo Temple

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya Luckily I brought along one of the latest Stephen King novels as it helped pass the time each morning whilst waiting for Daniel and Alexa to get ready. Hurry up you Snails! Just jokin mate, in fact I was happy they were late each morning as I got to get stuck into 'Cell'. Another great idea by the big man and put into words rather well. Of course as with all of Mr King's endings I thought it was crap and as usual he just decided to blow the crap out of everything. He's the greatest author ever but the man can not write an ending! The boat cruise 'To Taiwan' really was a beautiful time. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, the noodles were great but Taiwan we didn't see. I was pretty let down and actually thought all the cruise actually was was a trip to three tiny rock islands, one with Chinese writing stating that you are now entering Taiwan waters or that your noodles are ready. Probably the latter as I can't read Chinese. Anyhow, many nights later whilst I was frolicking on the beach with a beautiful Chinese girl she told me that the lights across the water we could see was actually Taiwan. Amongst the lights I could see three dark patches which were obviously the three little islands. So until then I was going to write 'don't waste your money' but on a clear day maybe you really can see Taiwan. I have no idea as most days here in Xiamen are pretty hazy on and around the water. The boat trip will coast you 80 Yuan a head, even for the Chinese. After the big let down and thinking that the Chinese were trying to tell us that Taiwan was actually three little rocks in the bay we decided on a huge feast of KFC down Zhong Shan Road. This is the main 'Shopping Road' in Xiamen so guys, get a big black marker and block it from your map and don't let the girls set foot on it. It's full of big shops, expensive shops, shops that will leave you penniless. Besides that it is a great street to walk down if your single as it is full of beautiful Chinese girls. ..Chinese girls...wallet...Chinese girls...wallet... I'm going Chinese girls. Selfishly I can say that being a single guy! HAR HAR! We then took to the streets and made our way to The Nanputo Temple or South Puto Si. On the way we met two American guys coming our way chuggin on bottles of beer as they walked down the street. Hey Man, we're looking for some action, you guys going to be around later. Yep, we are going to be around, dunno where...bye! The temple maaaaaan, it's just a temple maaaaan. I wonder if they actually went the temple or if they did, did they climb the mountain at its rear? We continued on our own merry way and came to the Uni District. Here you will find a large book shop on one corner that sells a small amount of English Novels, on the other corner is the Nanputo Si Gate and on the other corner (well type of corner anyhow) is a little uni market beside Mc Donald's and KFC. Beside the market are a heap of clothes shops and tasty little eateries. It's a great area to walk around and there is also an International Youth Hostel back up the road a little. I never spotted the sign until a few nights later. The temple was a great time. I left English (Daniel and Alexa) at the market place and headed across to the temple. Once through the gate I spent half an hour walking around the gardens out front taking photos and chatting to people who wanted to chat. To get into the Temple itself it will cost you only 3 Yuan. It doesn't say this anywhere at the ticket booth, in fact it has the number 1.2 there BUT everyone was paying three Yuan and the old Chinese man behind me even told me it was three Yuan so don't think they are trying to rip you off because your a foreigner. It doesn't cost 1.2 Yuan and I still have no idea what the 1.2 means. Anyhow, the temple was built 1000 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. It was ruined by the Mings and rebuilt by the Qings, so it's pretty bloody old and worth a visit. At the moment the temple is going through some restoration work. So once you're in the Heavenly King Hall you really can't see much at all. Once past the 'works' all is normal and there are people facing in all directions on their knees with incense sticks smoking at forehead height as they quickly move back and forth. Once you've taken all your photos take a walk behind the temple itself and take a walk up the hill. It's not a difficult climb, not as easy as Sunlight Rock but anyone can do it, if you can find your way that is. I was following a family and each time they stopped I would go on ahead and take a wrong track to then retrace my steps to find the father of the family waiting for me with is finger pointing in the right direction. This actually happened about four times so I felt like an idiot but we had a lot of fun as we criss crossed our paths. Don't get me wrong, it is not difficult to find your way and it is impossible to get lost I just become a little kid and take any track that is before me. On the way up you come to several platforms where you are offered what could be totally awesome views on a clear day but both times I went the sky was hazy. The views were still beautiful but I could imagine what they would have been like on a clear day. As you approach the top you'll find more of the 'War Bunkers' and once you reach the top head left and you'll come to a little refreshments store. Here you can actually pay the 40 Yuan entrance fee and enter the BOTANICAL GARDENS. Don't worry the normal gate fee for the gardens is 40 Yuan so they are not trying to rip you off cause your on a hill top and want to get down any way except the way you came. I wasn't sure so I headed back the way I came. Once I reached the Temple at the bottom I met up with English and we spent some more time in the little Uni Shops and then decided to walk back into the city. If you take Minzu Road which turns into Tong Wen road and walk instead of taking a bus you'll end up with some great views of Gulong Yu and prior to that a nice walk through some normal Chinese Streets. Gulang Yu really does look beautiful at night time light up with a large assortment of colours. For dinner we decided on a visit to the Italian Restaurant. As I've said previously and as we found out, it really is owned by a real Italian Guy. The food is beyond the word 'delicious' especially when one hasn't had spaghetti for two years. The pizza slice I had was just as good, the bread was the best bread I've had in two years. It was an expensive meal especially for a 'I'm not paying that when I can pay 3 Yuan for a rice dish down the road' type of guy but I happily paid my 45 Yuan or what ever it was for my huge bowl of spaghetti. What didn't impress me was the 20 Yuan you had to pay for a 3 Yuan bottle of local 'Snow' beer. I refused the beer until Daniel opened his and then after my huge day of walking I gave in. It almost tasted like a 20 Yuan bottle of beer too. What an awesome day! Beers N Noodles to ya...shane The soundtrack to this entry is Archie Roach's album 'Looking For Butterboy' A beautifully written Black Aussie outlook of growing up in society.

Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple

Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple


Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (1)

Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (1)


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Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (10)


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Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (7)


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Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (8)


Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (9)

Taiwan Boat N Nanputo Temple (9)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xiamen: A Beautiful Day On Gulang Yu

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya

Rose with my usual feelings of excitement whenever I have my back pack sitting beside me. Waited for 'English' to knock on my door and we then headed out into the Xiamen sunshine. To get more out of our day and Alexa's feet we decided to catch the bus to the wharf are. The bus we caught took a right hand turn and took us all the way over to Habin Nanlu and Xilu so don't catch bus number 72 from the train station area if you want to go to the wharf! We grabbed another bus which did take us to Lundu Wharf. THE FERRY: We headed back across to the back streets and sat for a cheap fried rice and noodles breakfast and then boarded the ferry across to Gulang Yu. The ride only takes about five minutes and during the day ferries leave every fifteen minutes or so. The ferry across to the island is free but the ferry ride back to the mainland will cost you 8 Yuan. Also if you want to sit upstairs on the ferry it will cost each person 1 Yuan so when you are asked to pay for a ticket this is not the actual ferry charge. Due to the amount of colonial architecture and history behind the island we decided to give Ms Li a call and have her guide us around the island. The Blue 'You Do You Do' girls will cost you 50 Yuan for as long as you want them....to guide you around the island that is! I mean they will guide you around the island for up to a day if that what is takes and if your lucky like me your guide might even meet you later that evening for a nice walk and chat around Xiamen. I always question having a guide, mainly as I can't usually afford one but here it was a nice treat. There are so many buildings and really without one you will no idea what each one is and what its history is. I was so surprised at the amount of embassy/consulates had been on this island. Sadly, now most of the buildings lay empty and deteriorating. ACCOMMODATION: My LP is much too old and doesn't mention any accommodation on the island but yes, you can sleep on Gulang Yu. There are several Guest Houses on the island and there is even a new International Youth Hostel. The second floor is available but they are still building the first /ground flood. Sorry, I've been in China for too long. Here the ground floor is actually the first floor and so on. Dorms are 40 Yuan and a single/double room I think was 120/140 Yuan depending on which Guest House. I saw several signs on my walk around and I believe you can get local hotel rooms for 120 Yuan. The island walk was excellent. The colonial architecture was plentiful as were the giant Boa Trees. They were everywhere with their long beards flowing in the breeze. The island is full of little hills so on a hot day if you plan one of my many hour walks water is plentiful from all the little local stores. Also if you're a piano fan you'll also love the walk as the island is also known as Piano Island due to the amount of pianos on such a small island along with its Piano Museum which has around 90 something pianos in it. The guides also get very excited about their pianos! We wound our way through the little streets and made our way to 'Sun Light Rock'. It is said (said our guide) that if you haven't climbed Sun Light Rock you haven't been to Xiamen. Also known as Diguang Yan, Sunlight Rock is around 93 meters high and is a very easy climb. ISLAND TICKETS: We had no idea you needed tickets for anything but you do. There are little patches of the island you can't enter without a ticket eg: museums, parks, rocks etc. Here's the run down. Tickets to climb the rock are 60 Yuan. For extra things like parks and museums etc you will have to pay an extra 15 to 30 Yuan for each. So the best thing to do is buy the BIG TICKET which will cost you 80 Yuan and get you into almost everything. Also don't go in the afternoon if you only plan on going to the island once. It is such a beautiful place with so much to look at and the path that takes you around the island is such a beautiful walk. You really do need to spend an entire day. The beaches around the back barely have anyone one them so you can sit and relax in piece and quiet. (I can say this after visiting several times over the past week and a half). The climb to the top of Sunlight Rock as I said was pretty easy. On the way up Ms Li told us stories of the settlers of the island being trapped in typhoons etc and where they camped on the rock to escape the rains, winds and floods during typhoon season. The views from the top of the rock were totally awesome and well worth the easy climb. Looking down upon the little villages on the island I guess one could almost believe they were on an island in the Mediterranean. I can't pass judgment too much as I can only go from movies and documentaries I have seen but both Alexa and Daniel both let out big 'WoW's' of joy and passed the Mediterranean comment so I guess my thoughts were right. From Sunlight Rock you take the Chairlift across to the huge netting on the far end of the island. This of course is a huge bird avery and worth a look if you like birds. It was filled with...birds of course but you also get some big birds like emus, swans, pelicans etc. All seemed pretty happy and at home. Colour flies on by and happy chirps can be heard during your Avery Walk so why not give it ago. We then took a nice stroll to a popular little beach that offered fun things like a short time in a huge see through plastic ball where you can run and jump around on the water without even getting wet! Behind the little beach are some Fresh Seafood Restaurants where you point to fish in tanks and pay by the weight and by the plate for Prawns. Prices are very cheap and everything was swimming a few minutes before it was put onto your plate. Can't get fresher than that. Do It Mate...AWESOME! Next was the Museum, I can't remember what it was really called but I think it was called the Art Museum. Ok, don't think pictures, think Asian Writing Characters. What it is is a museum dedicated to Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Chinese characters and their history. Cool if you're a character freak but not so cool if your not. It's all noodles to me what ever the country so just hand me a menu and it's pretty much the same thing just not as beautiful. We gave the piano museum a miss and walked through to the big garden and bridge behind. When you are on the little beach you will see a bridge to the right, you can't walk on this unless you have a ticket and this one will cost you 30 or 40 Yuan but the 'big ticket' will get you in. The bridge is called the '44 Bridge' because Mr Noodle (?) was 44 when he had it made for his 44th Birthday. Mr Noodle owned the house and all the land around that area. The bridge is actually a nice walk as the sun sets and the lights come on the island behind you. WAR BUNKERS: If you explore a lot of the island you will find a huge amount of concrete bunkers scattered all around the island. They are all around the islands exterior and also on hills with great views of the waters around. Ms Li didn't really give a direct answer but I think she said they were left overs from the Opium War which seems pretty much on the money when Xiamen was the first port forced open. Someone a few days later said they were left by the Japanese. I have no idea as I have no idea if the Japanese ever invaded Xiamen. But I am sure my buddy Simon will leave an answer for me either attached to this entry or by email so I the question will be answered. Simon...help mate! Daniel was once again beginning to feel oozy and Ms Li and I decided to spend the evening together so after she had changed out of her blue 'You Go You Go' uniform we paid our 8 Yuan each for the ferry ride back to the mainland. The little silver coin you get is actually not money it is the token you put into the little slot to get on the ferry. I know it sounds stupid but I thought it was a 1 Yuan coin until I was asked to put something in the slot. Ms Li and I spent the next many hours walking around the busy streets and going from shop to store to shop to store. We had a great time and it was the perfect end to a perfect day. Beers N Noodles to you.....shane

Gulang Yu & Miss Li (1)

Gulang Yu & Miss Li (1)


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Gulang Yu & Miss Li (9)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xiamen City: Speed Boats N Back Streets

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya

After a great day yesterday spent with friends walking around the streets of Shaowu window shopping we headed out for a huge good bye feast put on by the school. Daniel, Alexa and myself then boarded the 10:00 sleeper train that took us from the green mountains of Shaowu to the coastal city of Xiamen. I was woken at 4:30 by the young mother next to me waking her two year old son to feed him. OK I thought, he was asleep so why wake him, this can't be a good thing! And it wasn't. After the food the little bugger wouldn't fall back to sleep. She tried to settle him and to sleep herself but he wouldn't stop singing and chirpping to himself. Soon daylight filled our birth and I was still laying awake and the kid still happily singing. I wasn't too happy but thought 'Hey, I'm on holidays, Rock N Roll! I decided to rise early and sat for bread and fruit. Daniel and Alexa rose soon after and we all gave in and began singing the ABC Song with the kid. We arrived in Xiamen around 11:00am. It actually took thirteen hours from Shaowu which surprised me. ACCOMMODATION: We were met by some 'You Stay You Stay' peoples and when we got one down to a price we were happy with we ventured off for a look. All was well so we ended up staying at the Yingxiang Guest House which is just down the road from the Train Station. When you leave the station you will have Wallmart on your left, turn right and walk along Xiahe Road until the next road which is a T Intersection. Walk past the Department store and walk down the little lane beside it. Walk to the end and you find a little hotel beside a lighting store. Nice rooms, very clean and the staff are great fun once you get to know them. Its not at the water front but thats what you have feet for. After a shower we headed back down Xiahe Road towards the blue on the map. The Xiamen Port Area. Alexa begn to get blisters on her heels so we ended up catching a bus the rest of the way. You can catch almost any bus heading in that direction. Some will turn off not long before but buses 31, 50, 85, 28, 96 and 71 will take you to the ferry terminal. We got off at Lundu Wharf which is the name of the wharf that the ferry departs from that takes you to Gulang Yu. Instead of catching the ferry straight away we chatted to some 'You Do You Do' girls and decided on grabbing a ride on a fast boat around the island. The price for this is pretty much fixed as they have their own ticket booth and an endless supply of peoples wanting a bit of action so don't even try to get the price down unless its raining. As none of us had been in a speed boat for uncountable years we forked over the 30 Yuan a head and donned the life jackets and with the smell of boat fuel and salt water we sped around the island of Gulang Yu. The trip only lasts around ten minutes but it is a great time and it gives you a fair idea of the size of the island and how beautiful it is. I wouldn't do it again but its worth one go. You pay at the little white ticket booth to the left of the ferry terminal. Some 'You Do You do' girls can speak a little English. If you need information try the 'You Do You Do' Girls in Blue. After our little 'petrol head' fix we decided on some food before grabbing the ferry. We made our way accross the main road via the underpass and found a 'Lasagne/Pasta' Eatery owned by an actual guy from Italy who lives here with his young Chinese wife. If you do want Pizza or Pasta for lunch, its not opened during the day so we took the little road to the left and found a heap of little Chinese eateries. We dediced on the Music Cafe. Comfortable and clean but strangely no music was playing. The menu was pretty cool and in English. All around this area you will find heaps of little alleyways filled with normal Chinese daily goings on. Markets fill the streets. On each side you will find fresh sea food, live animals (named Lunch or Dinner) and colourul fresh vegietables. One of the 'You Do You Do' girls mentioned something about a little cruiser that takes you pretty much near Tiawan so we spent the next hour trying to find out more information on that. We were told to head dopwn to Heping Wharf which is further down Lujiang Road (Main Road along the port area). If your told to go down there, don't bother it doesn't leave from there. Anyhow, the sun had left our sky by now and we decided to leave Gulang Yu until the following day. It was pretty easy to decide on what to do next, when the question was asked Alexa simply pointed to the Pizza Hut resteraunt at the top of the Pizza Hut builidng. I think there are about twenty or twenty five floors and the glass elevator runs up and down the outside of the building. The ride up was beautiful and the window seats give a great view, I only wished we had gone for lunch instead. To get a seat you do have to leave your name and they give you a number and you then have to wait for people to finish eating. So no the elevator is not a play thing which really is a bugger for everyone. The food is far too expensive and the salads etc are much too small for their price. I can't eat pizza due to the amount of cheese on it here in China but they are pretty much the same as back home. I guess you can weigh up whether the views are worth the price, expecially if you don't eat pizza! By now we were all feeling pretty tired from the lack of sleep on the train jounrey. Daniel was feeling pretty dizzy and ready to pass out from his shocker of as head cold so we decided on heading back to the hotel. To get to the station from the wharf area, grab bus number 3, it goes the long way at night time so you also get a little tour of the city. So ended as most awesome first day in beautiful Xiamen City. Beers N Noodles to ya....Shane

The soundtrack to this entry was the Aussie band 'The Angels' and their most awesome 80's album 'Watch The Red'. Brings back alot of memories from my early teens. Friends and adventures! It was a great time.

Xiamen - Speedboat & Backstreets (1)

Xiamen - Speedboat & Backstreets (1)


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

It's Winter Break Mate and the Packs Packed!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya Mate its Winter Break and the Pakks Packed! I have a ticket for tomorrow nights sleeper train to the beautiful coastal city of Xiamen. Here colonial buildings supposedly rein supreme. I'll spend a few days with Daniel and Alexa in Xiamen exploring the architecture and back streets, taking photos, eating mountains of sea food and beerin' it up before they take the big steel bird to Thailand.

From Xiamen the only plan for now is to take local buses to the south west corner of Fujian to a Minority Village where several families still live together in huge round minority houses and dress and live as they have for the past several hundred years. Tell me that's not a great plan! From there I really have no idea. I guess I'll just allow the Big Noodle of Life to take me where it will. Beers and Noodles to ya...shane The soundtrack to tonight's entry is bought to you by another MSN/iPod '80's Metal Night' spent with my buddy Aussie Crusty who has been teaching on Hanian Island. He's also packed and is ready to head west into Yunnan's splendour! From there he'll head back to Aus and return to the great Melbourne Pub scene to not only thrash about on stage but thrash about to Slayer, WASP and Sodom in the next several months. Lucky bugger! Crusty my friend, when you first reach the front steps to the The Tote remember to drop to your knees and bow before the worlds ultimate Music Venue...

The Tote Hotel my friends, where Beer Meets Rock!

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Happy Australia Day To All My Friends N Family

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya MAAAAAAAAAAATE, I hope and wish that all my fellow Aussies hadda HUGE and HAPPY AUSSIE DAY! I spent a glorious sunny day beneath a huge cloudless blue sky exploring Shaowo. Dinner was spent with some teachers from Daniels school at a Hot Pot eatery dipping assorted foods into our individual Hot Pots, drinking a heap of beer and happily chatting about anything and everything. After dinner we headed back to Daniel and Alexa's pad and spent the evening watching a DVD sent across the big blue by a friend. The DVD is called 'Biffs Bumps and Brawlers 1 & 2' and its nearing four hours of some of the hardest footy from the black and white days until the late 80's when the AFL transformed the game into what it is now, a fast moving athletic money making machine. Believe me, it had my English friends awestruck. I spent 7 years working for the 'AFL Tribunal' as the man who ran the 'Video' side of things and believe me, the present AFL didn't want a lot of this footage released. It's full of collisions as hard as a head on car crash that leave players out cold, broken bones that leave a players limbs as floppy as a rag doll and faces as bloody as a boxers. Amongst all that there is some great footy too. All in all though it is about what Aussie Footy used be like 'sometimes mean and nasty but mainly full of guys as big as bull dozers slammin the shit out of each other! Unlike last years Aussie Day when there was four of us Aussies beerin' it up together, this year I had to make do with what I have around me in my current surroundings. All in all it was an awesome way to spend Australia Day and Night away from home and my fellow Australians. This side of China still hasn't recovered from the earthquake several weeks ago so I couldn't tune into Triple J for the Hottest 100 and that was a real bugger for me. It's also sad to miss the Big Day Out and the huge line up this years had to offer. A bugger for me also is the fact that Australia is on the receiving end of many 80's Thrash Metal bands. Bands like Kreator, Testament, WASP, Sodom and Slayer have played and are yet to play in the near future. But hey...I'm livin an awesome life here is China and have an iPod full of 80's Metal! HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY & GETIT INTOYA MATE!

The Aussie Vibes to tonights entry were provided by several Aussie bands that I miss dearly:

Sydneys 'Def FX'. Sadly not around anymore but mate, what an awesome sound! Download and getem intoya!

Sydneys 'Astroid B612'. One of the Aussie Greats Mate! Download em and you'll never look back!

Melbournes 'Underground Lovers'. Probably the greatest band ever! If you want a wishy washy panaramic experience to Melbournes music scene, this is the band for you. Especially for those of you who got into the 'English Guitar Scene' or those who adore Depeche Mode'. I seriously can't put into words the feelings this band can give you.

Melbournes 'Rose Tattoo'. Mate, street rock and slide guitar at Aussies Best. Ya can't go past these guys!

Sydneys 'The Splatter Heads'. Full of blood and awesome 80's/90's pub sounds. WIKKED stuff!

Tassies 'Mustang'. Go Baby Go Baby Go Baby GO! Stoney, mate your the greatest!

Melbournes 'The Fuck Fucks'. What can I say, grab a frozen chicken or a watermelon and GO FOR IT! No, I won't explain.

Melbournes 'The Angels'. Download the 80's stuff. Twas when they and Doc Neeson were at their best!

Melbournes 'Dave Graney'. The man is a master of words and smokey pub feelings! Do it!

Geelongs 'Magic Dirt'. She was voted as one of the worlds most beautiful women in some English Music Magazine but she has the mouth of a brickie. Love Magic Dirt Mate!

Queenslands 'Regurgitator'. Funny as fark so also getem intoya!

Queenslands 'The Onyas' If you want Pub Rock, mate this is the band for you!

Brisbanes 'The Saints'. Maaaaaaaaan, Australias most seminal band ever. Do it, getem intoya!

Sydneys 'SWOOP'. A most awesome funk/metalish band. On stage appearance was a confusing cross between Reggie lookin people to guitarists who could have played for Judas Priest. Cool stuff!

Melbournes 'You Am I'. Some of the greatest song writing ever. Lyrics are deep and beerin'. For your own sake, gettem intoya!

Melbournes 'The Bombshells'. This is one of Crusty's thrashabouts.

And to see the new year in 'Yothu Yindi'. Black and as he should be 'PROUD'.

Melbournes 'Cosmic Psychos'. Like Brisbands 'The Onyas', if you want your feet stickin to the pub floor, your bass as hard as your stomach can take it and your guys with a beer gut dressed in bonds blues, this my friends is the band that grew to symbolise the entire Melbourne Pub scene. If I ever think of 'a' Melbourne sound then this is the band. Get the Psychos into ya! One of L7 did!

And lastly Sydneys 'Radio Birdman'. If there is one band anyone in the world should download for the sound of the great Aussie Pub Scene, this is the band for you! Do it!

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)