Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Xiamen University and a Helpful Chinese Stranger

The Chinese, you see, get a lot of bad rap these days, poor them. Most of the stories we read on the news reflect a very selfish, chaotic and unmannered group of people. I have witnessed a few events myself so I can understand the universal sentiment. Even the Chinese government are giving courses to its approximately 100 million travelling citizens on travel etiquette.

Read here: China teaches its 100m tourists some travel etiquette

Xiamen University

I visited Xiamen University and was able to have a quick peek into Chinese school life.

But before we even start to join in the laugh, the 2 other world economic powers and its citizens, Japan and USA were also on the same boat before these nations became highly industrialised. Surely, Europe was as well in the same league during the (barbaric) medieval period. It is how it is, a (necessary) part of the evolution of societies and man.

During this Xiamen trip though, I encountered a lot of unexpected revelations and all the negative Chinese stereotypes I know just flew out the window.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

First things first, in Xiamen, I rarely saw people spitting on the streets. The media say that this is the only place in China where people are not making the act of spitting in public an ordinary regular thing. I have no idea why. The city has a lot of open green parks for wellness and relaxation. It is also environment-friendly, only allowing entry to bicycles and e-bikes in the city. And although people do not speak English, I was surprised how polite and helpful the locals were. But that is just my own experience.

Well, I got thrown out my hotel by the police though, but they did it with finesse haha. Read here: Chinese Police Threw Me Out of the 100-Year Old Mansion Hotel

The story of this entry began on my visit to Xiamen University. I know very little about the university except that it is located across the Nanputuo Temple where I was visiting on the afternoon of my first day in the city. I heard it is a nice place and thought that perhaps I will swing by the university later. It is just across, so why not.

So after my visit to Nanputuo Temple, where I climbed the cliff at the foot of the Wulaofeng Five-Old-Men chain of hills, although I did not go all the way to the top because I got distracted by the tea offering at Tushita, I went to check out Xiamen University. I did not read any information about Xiamen University beforehand so I came a bit unprepared. Well, I do not mind being spontaneous sometimes.

OF STEREOTYPES & WHERE IS MY ID?

As I entered the what seems to be an old Chinese gate, I was stopped by the security guard and he pointed me to the left where a long line of people was standing behind the railings. You know in China, you have to get used to queuing up. Be it an attraction, a food stand or a university. So I quickly pulled in line hoping that what I am doing is the right thing. The problem is, no one speaks English and I am the ONLY FOREIGNER standing in the line. I tried asking the ladies in front of me if this was indeed the line to get inside the university, but I get replies in Chinese and lots of smiles.

Luckily, a couple behind me overheard my predicament. The guy speaks amazing English, he must have studied abroad, but he quickly came to rescue this damsel in (a bit of) distress. He told me that it is indeed the line to the university and from him, I learned a few things about Xiamen University as well. He said it is one of the most beautiful campuses in China and that they have a nice park inside. Thinking about the line and that it is almost twilight, I was wondering if I ever will get to see that nice park. He further told me that the university was for a time closed to outsiders and they have just recently reopened it back to the public but only on certain days after 17:00.

Well, I can understand if the university wants to tone down the number of tourists visiting. If I was the dean of the school I would not want to see a horde of tourists gallivanting around the campus during school hours. But still quite grateful that they have opened the campus to the public. I am very fine with that!

Xiamen University Queue

This is the long queue to enter Xiamen University. All local Chinese tourists, except me.

I got into a really nice conversation with the couple, albeit with the guy only because his beautiful girlfriend (she was very tall for a Chinese and looked like a model) don’t speak English well I think, although I believe she can understand as she was listening intently and was smiling and nodding along. They said they were from the north in the region called Shandong and they are visiting tourists in Xiamen. He even brought up the Philippine president Duterte which he was very amused about in a somewhat positive way. This was the time when Duterte was spewing expletives to the USA whilst downplaying the Scarborough Shoal dispute with China. He was very updated with international news!

As you can see, the Chinese are not only travelling the world but they are also actively travelling in their home country. This couple, in fact, was not the only local tourists I met. In Xiamen, most of the tourists I saw were LOCAL tourists visiting from other regions in China. I realised that China really does not need our foreign money to boost their tourism industry. They can easily sustain it themselves with their almost 1.4 billion population (more than a 100 million travelling), the year-on-year GDP growth and the increasing consumer buying power. The Chinese are spending money. They are travelling.

Anyway, the gates to the university were finally opened!

As people were going in one by one through the guarded gate, I noticed that each person had to identify himself with an official ID. Oh no – I do not have my passport with me! I looked around to the couple and the guy quickly understood my predicament. I told him that I left my passport in the hotel. He said not to worry as he will tell the guard that I am with them.

When it was our turn, he quickly explained something to the security guard and I was let in. Wow, that was nice and quick! I don’t know how thankful I was with this couple who went out of their comfort zone to help me. I thanked them profusely! They have again rescued the damsel in distress for the second time, haha. He then asked me if I am okay to go around on my own. I told him I am fine and thanked the couple again for the 100th time before saying goodbye and parting our ways.

So yeah, stereotypes exist for a very good reason but when we encounter situations like this, it does shed some perspective on the bigger picture. We become more tolerant. We become less judgmental.

XIAMEN UNIVERSITY

I have already been clacking away so I won’t bore you with details about Xiamen University. Below you will find some links with information about the university and my (evening) picture gallery.

Xiamen University website
Xiamen University campus tour photos (these are daytime photos)
Xiamen University (according to Wikipedia)

Xiamen University Campus from nanputou

Xiamen University campus from the hills of Nanputou Temple.

Xiamen University

Xiamen University from the Tushita building in Nanputou Temple.

PICTURE GALLERY XIAMEN UNIVERSITY

The picture gallery is really my do-it-yourself campus tour. I just roamed around and was able to witness a few stuff within the 2+ hours I was there. I was able to take a peek into Chinese student-life, albeit really quick which was all fine with me.

Because it was already night time when I saw the park and lake, I thought of visiting the university campus again the next day, but sadly, I did not have the time anymore.

Xiamen University

There were free campus maps but they were all in Chinese. The bus station is located right outside the university (and Nanputuo temple). Fares within Xiamen city is flat 1 Yuan.

Xiamen University Campus

Like most university campuses, you will find a number of shops and mini-marts here.

Dormitories Xiamen University Campus

This dormitory building looks really nice! It looks like it is Moorish-Spanish architecture inspired.

Dormitory Xiamen University Campus

Student life and laundry life =)

Dorm Xiamen University Campus

Just a quick peek into one of the dorms. Many of the students living here keep their doors open.

Cafeteria & Restaurant Building Xiamen University Campus

This cafeteria building's design looks like it is influenced by the Tulou dwelling that is famous in the Fujian countryside. I wanted to visit one but my 72-hour visa-free transit is only valid within Xiamen. At the top of the cafeteria is a restaurant.

Cafeteria Menu Xiamen University Campus

The menu at the largest cafeteria in the campus.

Cafeteria Xiamen University Campus 
Cafeteria Xiamen University Campus

This is campus student-life food. Not bad at all, huh. I am lusting after that noodle broth.

Xiamen University Campus Cafeteria
Plastic Curtains in the Campus Cafeteria

I saw 2 cafeterias and this is I believe the biggest of the 2.

Hu Pan Coffee Xiamen University Campus

This coffee shop called Hu Pan Coffee has colourful post-its all over the place, on the walls and on the glass windows.

Furong Lake Xiamen University Campus
Furong Lake Xiamen University Campus


The man-made Furong Lake in the campus. It has views to the tallest twin tower buildings in the city, the Conrad. It was a bit dark here though, they seriously need to put some street lighting in this park.

Xiamen University Campus
Cafeteria Xiamen University Campus

This is the other cafeteria in the campus. I actually wanted to eat here but it looks like they only accept one form of payment, and that is through a local (could be student-affiliated) card.

Cafeteria Xiamen University Campus
Library Xiamen University Campus

I could not go in the library as it has an access point, so I was eavesdropping at this student while she is reserving a seat in the library. Quite high-tech, huh.

Bus Xiamen

Going back to my hotel I picked the bus which was located just outside Xiamen University. These 3 little girls were so cute, they just finished school and are going home. Interesting that they finish late. All bus routes within Xiamen City is a flat fare of 1 Yuan.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Siming, Xiamen (Fujian), China

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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