I don’t really believe in premonitions.However this weekend was certainly a weird one.It seemed to get off on the wrong foot smehow and things didn’t really work out so brillliantly.This is what happened.
This weekend was an extended one as the Qing Ming Tomb Sweeping ) Festival meant that we didn’t have to work on Monday. So we decided to go with our friends Hamburger and Sue to Quanzhou, a city about one hour’s bus ride away from Xiamen.We had visited there last year but there were a couple of places I still wanted to see there.Hamby’s grandmother lives in Quanzhou.She raised him in his teens and he went to High school there.He had not been back for a couple of years so decided to go too. Sue lives in another city about 2 hours’ drive from Quanzhou but said she could come over to meet us on the Sunday and the four of us would travel together to Chongwu,a fishing village about an hour away from Quanzhou.
So on Saturday,we took a bus from Xiamen to Quanzhou with Hamburger,and checked into a hotel just across the street from Hamburger’s grandma’s place.We then went by bus together to visit Qinguan Mountain , a famous site in Quanzhou topped by a huge statue of Lao Zi. The weather was pleasant, we had a nice stroll up the top of the mountain and saw lots of other tourists taking pictures and were only disturbed by a woman wailing at one point.Then some man came up and told her to be quiet,and that it was not suitable to wail in a public tourist site.On QIng Ming people are supposed to go and sweep the tombs of deceased family members and decorate them with fresh flowers.Hamburger said that sometimes people bury their relatives in the park, even though it isn’t strictly allowed,but that maybe they were very rich and had somehow managed to do that!.
He went to have dinner at his grandma’s house and we went out to my favourite Japanese noodle restaurant chain,Ajisen..We had intended to meet up later to go out for a drink but he later said that his grandma was kind of upset so he wanted to spend some time with her.
Next morning we met up at the bus station to travel to Chongwu.I had wanted to visit this place as I had heard it had an ancient fortress and fishing village and I wanted to see a bit of “real China”. I think in retrospect I regret that! The journey there was easy enough but on arrival we found a one-horse sort of town,a bit dilapidated looking and rough around the edges.It was EXTREMELY windy and not really that pleasant to walk around.It looked sort of like the “end of the line” or the last frontier.We had tickets back to Xiamen only at 8pm and I already felt somehow apprehensive.What the hell would we do in this place until 8pm? Anyway we set off to see the old fortress.First we sampled the local delicacy – fish rolls.You can have it fried or microwaved.The fried one looked like chips and the other one looked like Chinese gefilte fish.It was NOT a very memorable experience.
Next we walked through some rather pretty gardens with many statues depicting characters from Chinese literature,and with a view out over the sea,which was quite grey and stormy.We then walked down to the beach and up to the old wall.Most of the wall,which purported to be 14th Century looked to be completely reconstructed, and in fact there was not a whole lot to see there.But walking along the beach and clowning around a bit with Sue and Hamby was quite fun.
After we had eaten our lunch at a local place Sue had to get her bus back to Quanzhou and then we asked Hamburger if we couldh’t change our bus tickets to go first to Quanzhou too and then back to Xiamen,instead of waiting until 8pm to return.He said we should try.So that was when things got really bad. We exchanged our tickets and went to get the Quanzhou bus.There was no real bus station,just a huge crowd of people standing on the road waiting for the bus which nearly crushed people as it came in.The mob of people then rushed to board the bus (there were no assigned seats ) and pushed and jostled their way on,squashing people in the process. We couldn’t get on the first bus,and another one drove in after about 10 minutes.But as we waited Danny discovered that his wallet had been stolen from his back pocket (yes ,yes we know you aren’t supposed to put ith there!).We got onto the next bus but the whole experience was really not that pleasant.The trip had been ok but certainly not one of the most amazing places we had been in China and we could have done without that experience.
WE got back home to Jimei at around 9.30pm exhausted and a bit peeved.It was,of course,drizzling.We then had to call the bank in Israel to cancel our visa card and the bank in China to cancel our withdrawal card here.We now have various other bureaucratic things that need fixing as a result of the theft,but after all, it could have ended worse,right?
Have you ever been pickpocketed abroad? I am sure you have,, please feel free to comment.(but not to tell us we are idiots,we already know that)