Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Red Armadillo

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If you have been living in China in a city like ours for any length of time, you get a hankering for a real hamburger, a real pizza and some Mexican food. Lucky for us we were staying with my old college pal, Paul and his family at their restaurant, The Red Armadillo. It's a converted hostel across the street from the beach and it's a little bit of food heaven for the expats in that city.
The fare is basic and very good. Charbroiled burgers, enchiladas, nachos, chili, fries, and pizza. We ate it all, including double bacon cheese burgers.
The customers are an eclectic mix of Chinese, expats, and tourists. I met a Chinese guy from the Philippines who grew up in Los Angeles, an unhappy ex real estate broker from Boston who was working for an export business, and a mess of local Xiamen Chinese.
It was worth the 18 hour bus ride just to have the burger.

Big Day on Gulangyu

Modern Boat People

Welcoming Committee. Actually they are very helpful with the elderly and little ones during the hectic disembarkation.

These crowds can be avoided.

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No trip to Xiamen is complete without a trip to the island of Gulangyu. It's a place very unique to China since virtually all vehicles including bicycles are banned. You can read a little about the history here. It's very charming, even during holiday times, when the island is mobbed with thousands of tourists. I'm sure the locals lie low, except for the ones selling stuff. You can buy pearls, Taiwanese cigarettes, dorky hats, seashells, excellent Fujian tea, dried fish, fresh squeezed juice, and all kinds of cheap Chinese souvenirs.
We had a grand time, and look forward to returning at hopefully a more quiet time.

Some Sights on Gulangyu

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During the course of a lovely day, we wandered the narrow streets of this island, enjoying the architecture, and avoiding as best we could the masses. It's actually not that difficult, as long as you stay clear of the main thoroughfares.
There are a couple of exceptions to the no vehicle rule. One are electric carts that seat about 20 folks who are either too old or lazy to get about on foot. They are only slightly annoying and make their presence known with an electronic version of "Jingle Bells" constantly playing. I heard that they had to lobby pretty hard to get these, and I saw few elderly folks on them. They were mostly people who seemed to get some kind of face enhancement by cruising by the unwashed masses while one of the top 5 worst Christmas songs ever is playing over and over.
There are nice bronze statues throughout the city depicting life in the past: gamblers, peasants and manly warriors. There is also a wonderful temple complex.
Hotels were booked up for the holiday, but we checked the rates and most were quite reasonable. This would be a very nice place to stay during a non holiday time. Too bad holidays are the only time I'm off work.


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One of the more lucrative trades on Gulangyu is the selling of dorky hats to the tourists. Especially fetching are the faux cowboy hats.

Wax Works

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We just had to get our pictures taken with the Dick Taters

Antiquities Museum

This saddle was used as a punishment device for unfaithful wives.

Opium paraphenalia

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This museum had some old stuff, the usual ceramics and a few paintings, but it had a great tribute to hedonism of old including opium gear, porn and some stone age type sex toys