Back to China - Hong Kong & Xiamen
We had a couple of days to determine if we wanted to either stay in Hanoi or head back to Hong Kong. Given that we were in Hanoi for a total of 6 nights and have seen what we wanted to see, we opted for Hong Kong. There were still a few things we have yet to see and there was an open invitation from our dear friends the Schwartz’s.
Holly and family were around and were more than happy to have us, we decided to stay with them. Plus the view from their home is amazing!
Dinner at Stanley was much busier than in February. The weather helps and all bars/restaurants now have outdoor seating bringing out tourists and the locals. We enjoyed pizzas, salad, dough balls with pesto and wine. It was so nice to see Holly and family again.
The family had commitments the following day, and Mark and I, weather permitting wanted to get to the peak. It had been many years and the forecast was to be sunny, so we wanted to take advantage of the day. When we were in Hong Kong in February the weather was bleak, so it didn’t make much sense for us to pay the fee to see it. We were quite lucky this time.
We returned late in the afternoon to have a nice Indian dinner with the family and watch The Greatest Show on Earth.
As always it’s so nice to see friends and spending time to hear their stories and listening to what it’s like being an expat in the various countries. We are so thankful that we they are in our lives and hope to see them again in 2019.
After saying our goodbyes we headed to the airport for Xiamen. Our former place of residence for 2.5 years.
We knew there were few of our friends were still in Xiamen as many have either returned home or moved to other parts of the world. The ones who were left we reached out to let them know we would be visiting and hoping to reconnect.
We had time before meeting up with different friends so we headed to one of our favorite places, Ba Shi, the local wet market. Like all of Xiamen, or Asia, things change so rapidly. The wet market is shadow of what it once was. It has cleaned up immensely so the grittiness is no longer, which is what made this market so lovable.
A cleaned up wet market in Xiamen
Mark timed his haircut so he could see his old barber but they were closed for lunch, so we figured we would go back the next day.
Headed to our favorite dim sum place, Lucky Full City Seafood, which to this day is our favorite restaurant in Xiamen. We make it a point to go there every time we visit this city.
One of my dear friends Howard and family were still living in Xiamen. We have been in touch over the years and knew he was planning on moving back to Australia with his new family, but lucky for us, perhaps not him, he was still in Xiamen. They were planning their move about a month before but were still there, so we were able to meet.
The bar area in Hai Wan park is no longer. Where many expatriates and locals used to frequent and have many memorable moments, sadly the bars are now being demolished. It was a government decision. Some of have relocated in other parts of the island, while others I suspect have just closed altogether.
Hai Wan Park - You & Me 2 Bar
Additionally, we met up with another friend Lugas at our local haunt, the Orient, where our favorite bartender still works. She was shocked to see us but clearly remembered us.
Christine - The Orient Bar, Xiamen
After a couple of beers, we then headed to Coyote where we had dinners and some margaritas. It was great to see Lugas and listen to some crazy stories.
Lugas @ Coyote, Xiamen
The following day, Mark and I went to Gu Lang Yu to stop by and see another friend Lina, where we used to buy our pearls. Great seeing her again, but painful now to get there.
Walking from the new ferry pier, Gu Lang Yu, Xiamen
Where it once was a quick 10 minute ferry ride, now it takes 20+ minutes, one has to go to the cruise terminal, show you passport, and go through security. No longer a quick ride.
Taking the Gu Lang Yu ferry back to the main terminal in Xiamen
Upon arrival we also noticed the villas which were in disrepair and had a haunting aura about them are now renovated. They are either hotels or a tourist attraction which the now have a cover charge to view.
Restored mansions on Gu Lang Yu
After seeing Lina and seeing some of the island, we maneuvered our way through the crowds to get back to the boat.
Back to the mainland we went back to Ba Shi so Mark could get his haircut. They recognized us immediately and starting talking in Chinese. Great to see them and amazing to me how quickly the remembered us. Prices went up, but still cheap enough in Mark’s world so we were good.
Getting the 15 yuan haircut in Xiamen
Later that evening we got to see Yih, our little sister, who is the remaining member of the family still living in China. She hasn’t changed a bit. Had dinner at a great new Japanese restaurant. Sushi was fantastic and of course the wine, which was supplied by Nationwide was also great. It was such a great time and looking forward to seeing her along with the rest of the family in Tasmania in July for our niece’s wedding.
Spending time with Yih in Xiamen
Although it was a very short trip to Xiamen, we made up for it with seeing some great friends/family.
Xiamen - continuing to expand upward