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Published: July 31st 2013
Today I sailed by ferry from Xiamen to the Taiwanese Island of Kinmen. I only have a single-entry Chinese visa, so from here I will fly to the Taiwanese "mainland".
I was the only Westerner travelling on the ferry, but I met a Taiwanese woman who had lived in New Zealand, who explained that most people travelling that way were Taiwanese who had come to Xiamen overnight (Taiwanese do not need a visa for China provided they stay less than 24 hours, so many come to Xiamen for the day). The rest of the travellers were Chinese going to Taiwan, mostly for holidays, although this involves quite a lot of bureaucracy (the Chinese government requires Chinese people to jump through quite a few bureaucratic hoops before they are allowed to leave the country, never mind the visa requirements of the countries they are going to visit. This is one of the reasons so few Chinese people - relative to the population - leave China).
The crossing takes about an hour and can be bad, but fortunately they weather was much improved and the sail was smooth. My first impression of Taiwan was extremely friendly - no visa needed, and
though I had no accommodation booked the Visitor Information station at the port provided me with a hostel address and a taxi took me straight there. Jinsheng, the capital of Kinmen, takes about 20 minutes to fully explore on foot, but is very pleasant and laid back.
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