This post is about traveling because part way through the trip that is exactly what we did. Between Xi’an and Xiamen we were all over the place. After leaving Guangzhou we were off to Xiamen but first made a few stops in Rural China. The first day we actually ventured to the Hakka Villages about 2 to 3 hours outside Xiamen. The Hakka people came from northern China later than many other Chinese people because they forgot their wallets and needed to make some returns home, jokes jokes but the rest is history and covered over one of our many lectures. Besides all the nonsense their historical backgrounds are very interesting and throughout the years of Chinese development they have been viewed as foreigners and are live a slightly different Chinese culture than the rest of Mainland China. Their villages are built in large circles that hold an entire clan with a courtyard in the middle. This area is open to many tourists today which at first glance is upsetting and made me upset with modernization. The Hakka villages are however where we were granted the opportunity to collect information from interviews and after hours of conversation with the locals I learned to appreciate the gifts of tourism. This area that we toured and observed is affected by tourism in a positive way allowing people in the villages to stay here and have a flourishing life. The man we talked with from the Ke clan explained how in the past the families were barely able to produce enough food for their families but today the government contributes so much money to their land that they are able to prosper and do not have to move to the city in order to survive. This experience was a wonderful one as we sat in a small alcove in the Hakka village owned by the Ke clan drinking cup after cup of divine tea.
I guess to be fair we came into Xiamen with a good attitude and were most likely going to enjoy any experience thrown at us. Following our adventures in Hakka village we stayed a night in Dragon’s Platform in order to break up the travels and of course to observe more of China’s rural history. Our time in Dragon’s Platform also happened to lapse with one of our own’s twenty-first birthday! This of course called for a celebration and lucky us there was a flashy KTV attached to our fancy dancy hotel. KTV is Karaoke and big big big in China, these clubs are the place to be any day of the week. A few of us who survived the days travels dressed up and headed downstairs. You are placed in your own private room so the more the merrier and wilder! Since only of us has strong Chinese heritage we definitely stuck out like American college kids… allowing us to get taken advantage of, and that are exactly what happened. A woman met us as we walked up to the entrance screaming in Chinese the “rules” to KTV and showed us to our room, Fei (the only one who can speak Chinese) explained that she was the owner’s daughter and also happened to be hammered. She set us up with drinks and snacks so at first all seemed to be going well. About an hour and a half later we were stuck in a stuffy KTV room with a strobe light blasting away to Chinese music as our drunkie skunkie friend screaaaaamed Chinese lyrics into the microphone. Her male friends started to join us and things got weird… haha Fei decided to venture out and find her “father” who also supposedly owned the club. The manager stormed in livid that these imposters were of no relation to him, drank our beers and rained on our birthday celebrations. Writing about this night does not do justice to the actual event but if you can imagine sitting in a KTV room with William Hung on full volume… #roughlyfe.
Not to fret the next day we were on our way to Xiamen but made a “quick” stop at another museum, which happened to be outside in 109-degree weather. I have never experienced myself sweating so much especially when you are simply standing still… now I guess I know what it is like to be cooked alive. The past few cities including Guangzhou and Xiamen are very far south and hotsy totsy as all hell!
Next up in the lovely and most adored Xiamen, this post wasn’t about food (how shocking) but that does not mean we missed the odds and ends of the culture via digestion.