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February 19th 2018
Published: June 14th 2018
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19th Feb: I enjoyed one last walk along the beach in Xiamen and since it was really early it was quiet. It definitely wasn't the quickest way to get to the subway station but it was the prettiest. The subway system in Xiamen is still relatively new. The train was really clean and quiet. It took about 30 mins, if I remember correctly, to get me to Xiamen North Station. Since it was the holiday, the station was packed. Also Xiamen Bei wins the award for nastiest train station toilets in China, they were foul. My train journey was a short one and I barely had time to get comfortable in my seated before we reached Quanzhou. I took a taxi to the main temple in Quanzhou, which is near where I was staying. Taxi driver was a dick ripping me off by going the long way and then having the cheek to wish me a happy new year.

The walk to my hostel was along a pedestrian street. The area was buzzing with people. I found my hostel but it was too early to check in, so I just dumped my stuff and went to explore. I had walked in from the temple side of the pedestrian street, so I decided to walk the other way and see what was about on the other end of the street. There are lots more shops and stalls selling street food. I came to the end of the street. There was a big clock there and it reminded me of Malaysia for some reason, one of the old towns like Georgetown or Ipoh. I headed away from the main street and down one of the streets adjacent to it. I really liked the style of the buildings here, the architecture was really pretty and I liked the more traditional style. I then headed back along the main street stopping at a few stalls to sample the street food. I ended up with some takoyaki balls that were good, some pan fried dumplings, which weren't as good as my local place, and a mixed bag of fried stuff. Some of the fried stuff was good, but I couldn't eat the whole bag as it was too greasy. I liked the veggies whih were wrapped in seaweed and then fried. Those were good.

The main thing to see in Quanzhou is Kaiyuan Temple, so I headed there. The temple was really busy with people coming and going. There was no entrance fee, which is always a bonus! The temple was first established during the Tang Dynasty in the year 686 and was named 'The Lotus Flower Temple' by Empress Wu Zeitan. It was renamed several times during the Tang Dynasty and in 739 it was renamed Kaiyuan. The temple has two pagodas which are visible from the outside, the Eastern Pagoda and the Western Pagoda. My wandering took me to the Eastern Pagoda first. It was very pretty. There was a plaque that explained that a large earthquake occurred off the coast of Quanzhou in 1604 and the pagodas only sustained minor damage, which is very lucky. From there, I wandered to the back of the temple complex, where I came across some very cutely decorated China Post postboxes. There was a fairly large building in the back corner with lots of people coming and going and I went in there for a look around. I think the building is part of the Maritime Museum as it houses an old wooden ship, from the Song Dynasty, that had sunk in Houzhu harbour and had been excavated in 1974. It was interesting to look around the museum and learn a little about the maritime history. From there I continued to explore the back of the temple complex. It was a lot quieter here, as most people had stayed in th front. There were quite a few monks walking around and I admired the buildings as I walked. I headed back to the front of the temple and to see the Western Pagoda. The pagoda was built during the Southern Song Dynasty and is 45.06 metre high. It is octagonal in shape and has five storeys. The pagoda has 80 reliefs on it that show various Buddhist figures. The temple's two pagodas are the tallest of the Song Dynasty stone pagodas still preserved in China today. I really enjoyed looking around Kaiyuan temple. It was really interesting and there was a lot to see, certainly more than I had expected.

I found some cute little side streets, so decided to walk around those for a while and hopefully not get too lost. The streets were small and filled with old style housing. There were quite a few murals painted on the walls of the houses. It reminded me a bit of the mural villages I had visited in Korea. However, the murals there were mainly art, but I felt that these ones were more instructional. If I could read Chinese I would have been able to work out if my hunch was right. The streets led me out to the main road and I headed to the mall, which I had spied earlier. I had a look around some of the shops, it was nice to use their air con for a while. I was still feeling pretty hungry and since I had spotted a Maccy D's I headed there for some dinner, before heading back to the hostel.

After chilling in the room for a little while and sorting out some of my stuff, it was time for a beer. The hostel had a cafe/bar on the ground floor, so I headed down to take a look at what options they had. They had quite an extensive cocktail list, but I wasn't really in the mood for one, so I settled for a fruity beer. I was going to sit at the bar, but the owner told me that the roof terrace is really nice, so beer in hand, I took the stairs up to it. The roof terrace was really nice, the views out over the pedestrian street to Kaiyuan temple were gorgeous. If I were staying in Quanzhou longer, it is somewhere I would like to hang out in more. The roof terrace was a great spot for relaxing in and people watching, too. 

20th Feb: I had expected it to be quite noisy during the night, but once I had my earplugs in, I was out like a light. I left my thing in the reception area and headed out to get some breakfast. Since I wanted to visit West Lake Park, I decided to head to the Starbucks in the mall I had been to yesterday for breakfast. It was pretty quiet in the cafe, and I got a coffee and some kind of sandwich for my breakfast. Since it was a warm day, I made use of the outside seating. From Starbucks, I headed to West Lake Park, which was about a ten to fifteen minute walk away. For some reason, I totally screwed up my left and right, and was going in kind of the wrong direction, when I looked across the road and saw what looked like a fairly big park, I thought that it must be the park and after looking at my map app, realised that I was walking on the wrong side of the street. I headed over to the park and took a walk around it. 

The park was really pretty and more importantly, it was pretty quiet. There were a few people about, but there were none of the tourist hordes that dominated the old town. The weather wasn't as good as it had been the previous day, and the sky was pretty cloudy. Blue skies would have made the pictures I took of the park even prettier. I followed the trail around the West Lake. There was a big pavillion, so I headed up the steps to take a look at the view from up there. You could pay to climb to the top of the pavillion, but it was closed for the staffs' lunchbreak, by the time I got there. I continued my walk around the lake. It was so pretty, with the traditional style bridges going across it. I made my way to the other side of the park, I could see the Quanzhou museum, which I wanted to visit. However, I couldn't figure out if it was possible to get there from the park, as there was a thick fence around the park and any lanes of traffic. Later on, I found the gate out, but decided that I probably didn't have enough time to see the museum properly, so chilled reading my book instead for half an hour. While I was relaxing, a monk came over to me and offered me something, I think it was a little Buddha statue, I accepted it, but then he pointed at his jacket pocket and at first, I had no idea what he wanted, but I figured out he must have wanted some money for the thing he gave me. No way was I giving him any money so I tried to give him the thing back, but he was insistent that I keep it, but I wasn't going to give him any money, such a scam artist. A woman saw what was going on and started berating the monk for me, thank you lady! I concluded my walk around the rest of the lake and made it back to the entrance I had originally came through. The park was a nice place to spend the morning.

Back at the hostel, I still had some time before I needed to get the bus to the train station, so I sat and had a coffee in the downstairs cafe. The coffee here is really good and it was a nice place to relax. I headed to the bus stop, which was about a ten minute walk away. I had googled how long it would take to reach the train station and it had told me about an hour. I waited a while for the bus and it was already pretty crowded when I got on. We drove to a few more stops and more and more people crammed their way inside. the bus driver was shouting down the bus telling us to make room, but really he should have just left the other people behind as the bus was too full. The estimate journey time was a bit excessive as we reached the train station after about 30 minutes. Now I had loads of extra time to kill at the train station. I had enjoyed Quanzhou, the pedestrian street was crazy busy, but I liked the energy of the place, it wasn't too overwhelming or off putting. I also really liked the hostel's roof top seating area, I could have happily spent many a warm night sitting out there, drinking beer and reading. The weather had surprised me too as it had been even hotter than Xiamen.

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