So, we started day two of our Xiamen trip with a long yoga class. According to the schedule, it was only supposed to last 75 minutes, but it went for a full two hours. Despite the fact that this cut int our tourism time, I was quite happy about it. It’s the first yoga class I’ve taken since I left DC! I practice on my own, but I really miss classes. My mom even stuck it out through the entire class, which was quite impressive.
After yoga, we headed down to the waterfront for a mid-morning snack at Starbucks. We’d had a small breakfast at the hotel, but not much at all (and this preceded the 2-hour yoga session). This particular Starbucks just might be the nicest one I’ve ever visited. It occupies a full 4 floors, the last of which opens onto a roof deck with a great view of Gulangyu.
After Starbucks, we hopped on the ferry over to the smaller island. It was very crowded, and also very hot. But heat doesn’t bother me because it provides an excuse for afternoon ice creams. So, we started wandering around, which is the best way to explore Gulangyu. It’s extremely easy to get lost, and in some way is like a more tropical, Chinese Venice without the canals. If you can bring yourself to imagine Venice without canals. Perhaps not.
For lunch, we really wanted to sit down. This proved more difficult that one might think, as most of the food available on Gulangyu is xiao chi and thus is not served at a table. Finally, we found a cute little courtyard and ordered off of their tiny menu. The food was, at best, edible. Barely so. Despite the somewhat disgusting food, we were happy for the seats, shade, and cold bottles of water, so we made the best of it and then stopped for xiao chi afterward. Here, the vendor is preparing our tofu and fish:
After lunch, we climbed up to the highest point on the island. There were quite a few stairs, and it was predictably crowded, but it was worth it for the view.
We spent the rest of the afternoon continuing to guang guang (wander) and bought a few souvenirs. For dinner, we decided to return to the bigger island. Once again, we wanted to sit down and thought our chances would be better away from the biggest crowds. I’ve always been one of those people who turns her nose up at the thought of eating at American chains while abroad, but I must admit that living in China has changed that somewhat. There’s something to be said for the comfort and relief in the assurance that a Starbucks, for instance, will be exactly the same anywhere in the world. The menu items are slightly different, but the ambiance, service, and drinks are the same. So, I’m not ashamed to admit that our plan was to head back to Starbucks, buy sandwiches there, and eat them on the roof and relishing once more in the view. Our plans were thwarted, though, when we returned to Starbucks only to find that they had a paltry selection of sandwiches. Nothing dinner-worthy. We were forced to seek nourishment elsewhere. “Elsewhere” turned out to be a tiny restaurant that was literally, not figuratively, a hole-in-the-wall. Ryan spotted the sign down the street amid hundreds of other florescent signs and swarming crowds. We decided to check it out, because we know that we love this particular type of noodles. This style comes from the Western part of China and the restaurants are dependably clean, delicious, cheap, and almost always have picture menus. It was, as we knew it would be, very satisfying, and it only set us back about $2 each.My favorite part of the meal occurred when I asked our waiter if he could provide us with drinks. He beckoned for me to follow him. We exited the restaurant and stepped over to the shop next door, which you can see in the picture above. He asked me what I wanted, and when I said 3 waters he grabbed three bottles from a fridge and yelled to inform the slightly disgruntled-looking shop-keeper. I’m assuming he paid her later. He was very nice, informing us that he came from Lhasa, and that Ryan and my Chinese was, “not bad!”
After dinner, the three of us indulged in McFlurries. We bought drinks at Starbucks so that we could sit on their roof and enjoyed watching the sunlight disappearing from Gulangyu.
We had to be up early the next day for our train, so we retired to the hotel after ice cream.