First Impressions

Xiamen reminded me a lot of Taiwan actually in certain parts of the city and the overall heat and feel of the city, moreover, particular scenes also makes me reminisce a bit of Japan, especially the feeling of being in Kyoto in the summer. I did no prior research to coming to Xiamen, but my friend told me that Xiamen is one of the special economic districts in China, Shenzhen my current base of operations, is also being one of them. Certain areas in Xiamen are quite beautiful and clean, but other locations are gross and littered with trash. But, this applies to all cities I guess. Overall, my first experience of this city was a memorable one, particularly because I helped my friend, 曹坤梁,aid his college roommate move, in the process, I learned a lot more about the circumstances that recent graduates in China face in when it comes to job hunting and finding a place to live. It was a humble experience. Best part.

Fun Facts 

  • Old architecture and relaxing atmosphere at Gulangyu Island
  • Modernized, clean environment
  • One of China’s five Special Economic Zones
  • Ranked as China’s “second-most suitable city for living” in 2006
  • A major city across from Taiwan with substantial Taiwanese investment

The city is on the coast of Fujian Province and has long been an important port city open to foreign trade. It was controlled and developed by the British Empire from the mid 19th century until 1912.

  • 960-1279 During the Song Empire period, the city was a port open to foreign trade.
  • 1387 A Ming general built a fort to guard against pirates.
  • 1650-1660 Koxinga fought against the invading Manchus from the area.
  • 1841 British troops captured the city and created one of their oldest settlements in China.
  • 1938-1945 The Japanese army occupied the city.
  • 1980 Xiamen was declared to be one of the four original Special Economic Zones.

*Information taken from

Nanputuo Temple 

“This Buddhist temple was once called Puzhao Temple (Universal Grace Temple). It was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was later destroyed in the warfare during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). During the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722), a naval general ordered it to be rebuilt into a Buddhist Temple and named it Nanputuo Temple.
The temple covers 30,000 square meters with four main buildings on the north-south axis. The buildings include Devajara Hall (the Hall of Heavenly Kings), Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), Dabei Hall (the Hall of Great Compassion) and a Pavilion built in 1936 in which Buddhist scriptures, Buddha images from Burma, ivory sculptures and other works of art are stored. The many rooms flanking the main buildings include dormitories, libraries and study rooms for monks”


藏经阁里珍藏有缅甸玉佛,宋代古钟、香炉,明代铜铸八首二十四臂观音清代瓷制济公活佛以及大量佛典经书著名的有《明大藏经》《日本大藏经》等。藏经阁 后有摩崖石刻多处,其中有块大石,镌刻着一个特大的“佛”字,高一丈四宽一丈,粗犷豪放雄健有力,为国内罕见。 寺后的五老峰山麓,有该寺历代高僧墓塔以及碧泉、般若池、净业洞、兜率陀院、须摩提国、阿兰若处和太虚亭等景点。寺内一侧的闽南佛学院,创办1925年,在海内外久负盛名,是宏扬佛法、培养佛家弟子的摇篮,目前,有很多学生在此就学。寺内“素斋馆”的素菜,烹调考究,颇负盛名”

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Gulangyu Island 

“During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the island was called ‘Yuanshazhou Island’. It got its present name from the huge reef surrounding it. When the tide comes in, the waves pound the reef and it sounds like the beating of a drum. The island came to be named ‘Gulang’. Gu in Chinese means ‘drum’, and Lang, ‘waves’.

During the later Ming Dynasty, the troops of national hero Zheng Chenggong were stationed here. After the Opium War in 1842, 13 countries including Great Britain, France and Japan established consulates, churches, and hospitals, turning the island into a common concession. In 1942, Japan occupied the island until the end of the War of Resistance against Japan.

This area has about 20,000 permanent residents, all of whom enjoy a comfortable, relaxing life. Only electric-powered vehicles are permitted on the island, so the environment is free from the noise and pollution of combustion engines. Breathing the clean air, appreciating the ever-present green trees and lovely flowers, anyone here can feel like they are in heaven. With classical and romantic European-style architecture, the island truly deserves to be called the’Architecture Museum’. It is also known as the ‘Cradle of Musicians’ and ‘Island of Music’ because of its reputation for music appreciation”


“鼓浪屿属亚热带海洋性季风气候,雨量充沛,四季温和,岛上90多科4000余种植物常年郁郁葱葱,珍贵树种有国内仅有的大果红心木、国内最粗的印度紫檀、从新西兰等国引种的各类珍稀果树,岛上一些植被已形成亚热带海洋性季风气候下的顶级群落。鼓浪屿周边海域为厦门港主要部分,濒临中华白海豚保护区、文昌鱼保护区、大屿岛白鹭保护区,与金门列岛隔海相望。 从19世纪中叶起,伴随着基督教的传播,西方音乐开始涌进鼓浪屿,与鼓浪屿优雅的人居环境相融合,造就了鼓浪屿今日的音乐传统,培养出周淑安、林俊卿、殷承宗、陈佐煌、许斐平等一大批杰出的音乐家。如今,鼓浪屿的人均钢琴拥有率为全国第一,岛上有100多个音乐世家,2002年鼓浪屿被中国音乐家协会命名为 “音乐之岛”。 鼓浪屿名人史迹众多。这里是民族英雄郑成功史迹保存最为完整的区域之一,岛上大批珍贵的摩崖石刻,虽历经长年风雨洗礼,依旧保存完好。中国现代妇产科医学奠基人林巧稚、中国语文现代化先驱卢戆章、中国现代体育启蒙家马约翰等60多位鼓浪屿籍名人故居、陵墓都在鼓浪屿岛上。鼓浪屿以其婀娜多姿的自然风光和积淀深厚的文化底蕴,成为国家重点风景名胜区、全国35个王牌风景区之一,在福建省居十佳风景区之首”

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Huandao Avenue 环岛路



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Last Thoughts 

As a final verdict, I doubt I would find any reasons to come back here unless a friend compelled me to accompany them to revisit this city. But then again, Xiamen is a nice city to live in, especially since it is so close to the ocean.

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*Majority of contents are derived from the sources provided in the hyperlinks. Thus, the credit goes to the original author of those links.

*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship 


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