Visiting Fujian

Mao Zedong's statue at Wuyi square in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

 

While you’re studying it’s important to take some time for yourself, and not just during the vacations you may or may not have. So while I was studying in Xiamen I took some time to visit the nearby cities Fuzhou and Quanzhou, which respectively are 2 and 1 hours away from Xiamen by train.

I organised my trip to Fuzhou by myself. I found a cheap hotel online, but when I arrived there were many people advertising their hotels around the trainstation that turned out to be much cheaper. So if you go there outside of a holiday you might want to take that into consideration. But, if you do travel during a holiday I strongly advise to book a hotel well in advance.

I stayed for 3 days, although I arrived late on the first day and left halfway through the third day, so I actually only had one and a half day there to do things.

I first went to Gushan, a mountain that was about half an hour away from the city centre. Half way up the mountain I met a group of middle schoolers that wanted to practice their English. Near the top was a gate to go to the actual top that I needed to pay for, although the mountain was free before that. It turned out to be worth it though. There was rock calligraphy and the view was great. I also met some people that had taken the day off from work to hang out. I went down the mountain with them and joint them for lunch, after which one of them brought me to nanhoujie, which is part of the 3 lanes 7 alleys.

Entrance to Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Entrance to Gushan

Calligraphy rock on Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Calligraphy rock on Gushan

Friso Denijs on Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian China

Me high up on Gushan with a foggy Fuzhou behind me.

Walking through just that street took the rest of my day but it was really nice. There were many interesting shops, my favourite one being one that sold Fujian style wood sculptures.

Entrance to Nanhoujie in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Entrance to Nanhoujie.

Fujian style woodcarving in a shop in Nanhoujie in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Fujian style woodcarving in a shop in Nanhoujie.

The next day I first went to Wuyi square, I wanted to see the rising of the flag, which happens at sunrise, but I arrived to late. Luckily I was direct by a local to a temple left of Mao’s statue and up the hill. It was a lovely temple, but sadly I forgot to take pictures there.

 

Mao Zedong's statue at Wuyi square in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

Mao’s statue on Wuyi square.

After that I went to the Fujian provincial museum. It had many interesting exhibits, my favourite one being about Fujian opera. I was also very surprised when I saw a diaroma of Dutch people. It was of them surrendering to Zheng Chenggong after he reclaimed Taiwan. After the museum I left Fuzhou and went back to Xiamen.

 

Diorama of the Dutch surrendering to Zheng Chenggong in Fujian provincial museum in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

Diorama of the Dutch surrendering to Zheng Chenggong in Fujian provincial museum.

 

Later in the semester I went to Quanzhou for a day with a group of classmates. We first went to Kaiyuan temple. It’s a temple with large grounds. We spent most of our day there, wandering about.

Pagoda at Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

One of the two pagodas at Kaiyuan temple.

Mural at Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

Mural at Kaiyuan temple

 

Friso Denijs standing underneath trees in Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

Me underneath two crossing trees at Kaiyuan temple

Afterwards we went for a quick visit to Quanzhou museum, but it was nearly closing time and most of us were hungry, so we went out to eat and have drinks. We got back late and tired to our dorms, but we all had a good time.

Quanzhou museum in Quanzhou, Fujian, China

Quanzhou museum

 

Studying in Xiamen

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

As I said in my previous post, I studied Chinese on the Xiang’an Campus of Xiamen University. It’s a campus that is still partially under construction, but it was already quite big. It took me about 15 minutes walking from my dorm to my classrooms.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Building, Classes

The building where I took my Chinese classes.

 

There were already many buildings, the biggest one being the library, but there are still many more to be build.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Library

Library of Xiamen University, Xiang’an Campus.

 

The campus is being constructed in several phases. The first one was already complete and the second one nearly. I’m not sure how many phases there will be after this, but from what I’ve seen on the map, there will be at least one or two phases more.

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

The big canteen. Referred to as 一期 (yī qí, first phase) by the Chinese students.

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

The small canteen. Referred to as 二期 (èr qí, second phase) by the Chinese students.

 

They were also still busy planting trees, but they still looked weak and young, except for one. But, I think in 5 years or so it will look really good.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Tree

The largest tree I found on Xiang’an Campus

 

The books we used were from the Developing Chinese series (发展汉语), published by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press (北京语音大学出版社). They are the following:

Elementary Comprehensive Course (初级综合) I by 荣继华

ISBN: 978-7-5619-3076-2

Elementary Listening Course (初级听力) I by么书君

ISBN: 978-5619-3063-2

Elementary Speaking Course (初级口语) by 王淑红 么书君 严禔 张葳

ISBN: 978-5619-3247-6

 

I think they were very good. Although to focus on reading and writing you’ll need another book in the series, named Elementary Reading and Writing Course (初级读写) I, the Comprehensive Course does have some writing practices in it, but it focusses mainly on vocabulary and grammar. Listening and speaking focus on just that, but the vocabulary between the three books don’t match up completely, chapter per chapter. You can use these books for self-study, but I think you’ll get the most out of them if you have a good teacher as well.

 

If you’re also interested in studying at XMU, follow this link: http://english.xmuoec.com

 

Edit:

After asking for their permission to use their names I can now tell you that depending on their availability and whether or not they teach classes at your level, try to get in the classes of 苏芸 (Yún), 吴茗 (Wú Míng) and 肖宁遥 (Xiào Níngyáo). They were my teachers for Comprehensive, Speaking and Listening respectively and a lot of my improvement was due to their guidance.

Visiting Xiamen

Xiamen is a city in a south-east province, Fujian, of China, where I spent the better part of the past half year studying Chinese.

I studied at Xiamen University. The main campus is in Siming district, which is in the city itself, but I studied at the campus in Xiang’an district, in a rural area, which was still under construction when I left. In my next post I’ll write about my lessons there.

During my stay in Xiamen I visited several landmarks, but the ones that stood out the most to me were the Tulou outside of the city.

Tulou are ancient buildings throughout Fujian province, made from earth, which is where the name tulou comes from. The characters for it are 土楼, meaning Earth and Building respectively. I have visited several and the most well known ones I saw were the ones in the Tianluokeng cluster. You can see them in my picture. When you look up images of tulou online these are the ones that you’ll find the most.

Tianluokeng Tulou cluster in Fujian, China

Tianluokeng Tulou cluster, seen from the top. One square Tulou surrounded by four round Tulou.

 

To go there I rented a taxi/tour guide with a group of friends. It took about 3 hours to go there from Xiang’an campus and we stayed in that area for another 4-5 hours. Besides that cluster we also visited another tulou which we saw up close and went inside and a village temple. I would strongly recommend to get a car to go there if you can or get a tour guide with one of those little tour busses. The places are far from where you buy the tickets and from each other, if you would go walking then you would be there all day.

But if old buildings aren’t your thing, there are many more places to go. I’ve been told that Siming campus of Xiamen University is the most beautiful campus of China. Nearby that campus are Nanputuo Temple and the Botanical Gardens, which are also definitely worth checking out. There is also Gulangyu, an island with many western building and several more attractions, and Zhongshan Road, a shopping road where you can wander and shop all day if you want to.