Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Xiamen, China
XIAMEN, China (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Xiamen, the booming southeastern Chinese city and emerging tourist destination?
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to the balmy coastal city.
8 p.m. - Xiamen has done a surprisingly good job at protecting many of its beautiful old buildings which date back to the 1920s and 1930s. In one of those structures, just by the east gate of Zhongshan park, is The House. Serving what it calls California cuisine, the portions are both huge and tasty, with an extensive wine list and friendly, English-speaking staff. If the weather is good, sit on the terrace outside. (10-1 Bai He Rd, 0592-204-4358, www.thehousexm.com)
10 a.m. - Tourism in Xiamen is really all about one thing -- Gulangyu. A 10-minute ferry ride, or five on a speedboat, the island is full of beautiful old houses, some of which date back to the declining years of the last emperor.
The building styles are an eclectic mix of neo-classical and art deco, and many were built when the island was autonomously run as a foreign concession prior to World War Two. English guidebooks can be picked up at the Xinhua bookstore in the rather tacky center of town, and the island is small enough that you can wander around its hidden lanes in around an hour.
But take your time, for Gulangyu's full beauty cannot be experienced in a rush. Listen carefully, and you can hear piano music coming out from behind the wooden shutters of some of the houses, as the island is home to a renowned music school.
1 p.m. - On the southwest corner of Gulangyu is a pretty beach, but avoid the plethora of food stalls and head straight to Le Petit Cafe. Continued...