Zero to Sixty, City Change to the Extreme
From Hong Kong to Xiamen
Yesterday we said farewell to our beloved Hong Kong, and landed in Xiamen. Even though we all know Hong Kong and Xiamen are both in the same country, they basically aren’t. We even know that they’re close, plane ride was less than two hours. When we crossed from Hong Kong to mainland China they checked our passports like 7 times, not something usually done in cities of the same country. Another thing that makes them seem so separate is that they use a different currency and speak completely different languages. In Hong Kong it’s all Cantonese, with some English for the tourists, while in Xiamen it’s purely Mandarin. There’s not many foreigners over here, either. So here’s the low-down on my experience moving to Xiamen.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
- Xiamen is a lot less touristy. The food and shopping is a lot more authentic and cheaper. The store owners don’t jack up the price because they know we’re tourists. There’s a whole bunch of street food right next to us since we live in a fishing village. It’s easy to get to and definitely a great experience you can’t get back in Seattle. Also it’s a lot more spacious. In Hong Kong is always seemed like we were packed into every space. It’s like you’re in a constant crowd, which can be exciting but also overwhelming. Xiamen is still part of China, so very hectic, but nothing like Hong Kong, in that aspect. And most of all, I love that everything is cheaper! China money is less valuable than The Hong Kong Dollar, and still it cost less to buy similar products.
- In our group we only have three really fluent mandarin speakers. English is very scarce and we have to heavily depend on those three people the whole time we’re here, which makes things more difficult to get around and just to buy simple things like water. Also, this isn’t as big of a city so there’s not as great accessibility. If I need to go to the store to buy something late at night, there’s not really any options in Xiamen, at least not like Hong Kong, in my experience. The hotel we are currently staying at is a huge change from our hotel in Hong Kong. It’s like a hostel. It’s not very modern or clean, more realistic as to how the people of Xiamen live, but it is not what we’re used to and makes it harder to stay here.
- Squatting toilets… The bathrooms here are a nightmare. They’re all squatting toilets, all of them, except the ones at the place we’re staying. They usually don’t have toilet paper or soap. And they’re mostly always filthy and smell terrible. Let’s just say I’ve definitely cut back on drinking water since I’ve been here.
Conclusion: I love it, but I hate it. There’s a lot of things I can’t really get past (AKA the lack of proper restrooms), but at the same time I really like it here. It would be better if we blended in more. If only I could speak Mandarin!!