Cheng Chin Yuen

Saturday, September 30, 2006

18th Sept - Gu Lang Yu to Xia Men

Feeling that I have missed a fair bit of the old houses, I woke up at 6am to attempt to photograph old Gu Lang Yu in one and a half hours. It was nice and quiet and the old folks were just returning home from their morning stroll and exercise. Compared to Xia Men, Gu Lang Yu must be really an ideal place to stay. People here don’t spit and litter so much.

Xia Men is generally boring except for the old and narrow side streets saturated with gambling dens, brothels, adult shops, barbers, tiny eateries, printing firms, cramped dwellings and the local seafood market. These radiate out form the most liveless pedestrianised street in China. Every other major city has beautified their central mall here, you can still see the arrows and lane markings on the road that ran through the street. The famous peanut soup here tastes similar to the canned ones you can get off the shelves at NTUC.

I rarely lose track of time but I had the impression that today was the 19th and we that had only two more days left in China when we had three. I had already bought our bus tickets to Shen Zhen the next morning but we decided we would rather spend an extra day in Xia Men than in Shen Zhen. So we returned to the bus station to change the tickets surprisingly without any hassle or having to explain ourselves. Everyone is allowed only one switch which makes perfect sense.

We ended the day early by watching Stephen Chows ‘Guo(2) Can(3) 007’ a real classic in our room.

19th Sept - Xia Men

Xia Men University looks more like a park with the lake and lawns. The red brick hostels resemble a massive laundry house with shirts, shorts and underwear hanging along the corridors on every floor. The well-lighted air-conditioned quads do not match the China hostel horror stories. Each undergraduate has a computer terminal beneath his bed, a cupboard and a locker. Some sleep on mats instead of mattresses. The busy canteen is cashless and the variety of food looks healthy. There are quite a number of foreign students here including a few from the Philippines. There are also 10 basketball courts in the sports corner.

While Karen went to MSN, I walked and re-walked the seafood market taking photographs of the dazzling spread. Returning to the main street. A large crowd was gathered Mei Zhen Xiang bak kua shop not for the bak kua but to watch a street warden argue with a guy on a bicycle. The two had been fighting and had suffered cuts and bruises but the funny thing was an old traumatised lady who had witnessed the whole drama had been called in to be the judge. No that what she said mattered, the two blokes and their gathering mass of supporters argued on. These uniformed street wardens weren’t the police, their main duty was to get people off their bicycles on the main street.

I had my farewell haircut in one tunnel saloon. For 7 yuan, I came out with a short squarish crop, looking like any Chinese fella.


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