Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Day Three: Xiamen

A reflection of Xiamen's downtown core on an overcast day
On our third and last day in Xiamen we explored the park near our hotel. We first crossed Yundang lake and an overpass to get to a pleasant and large park, that had a long boardwalk that led towards the water.

I noticed that Xiamen seems to like elephants, with many statues of the pachyderms around town. Now if we only knew why...

Nevertheless the park also had a playground area for children that included an amusement park complete with rides and games. However there was no one there because it was a weekday.

One of many elephants that hang around the city
We also discovered a creative way to use up dirt that was scooped up from elsewhere and dumped in the park to create a lovely man made hill covered in grass with a circular path to the summit. From this vantage point we could get a panoramic view of the city -- or at least the surrounding buildings in the area.

Afterwards we walked back towards the lake and decided to walk a good chunk of the perimeter, which is lined with a pathway that's easy to walk, and decorated with small plants, shrubs and trees.

In one section there were two massive buildings being constructed, and we could imagine the noise on the construction site must have been deafening. The amount of steel they were using particularly at the bottom seemed excessive, unless there were plans to build an extremely tall skyscraper.

Towards the end of our walk, there was a large open-air amphitheatre used for concerts and so it indicates there are cultural initiatives in the city.

The sign says no roller-skiing down the man made hill!
After a massage to relax our feet and legs, we headed to the airport and when we reached the Dragon Air counter we were dismayed to find a massive line -- it looked like one family was moving to Hong Kong -- because no one was manning the check-in counters. We waited some 20 minutes for the staff to slowly drift in, even carrying the rolls of tape used to tag luggage.

When we finally checked in, the ground crew told us the flight would most probably be delayed an hour... how nice -- and especially telling us now when we are at the airport.

There was nothing we could do except wait around. Going through immigration and security were pretty standard -- except for being frisked by a female officer -- and then we grabbed a bit to eat before heading to our gate.

The very large amphitheatre for public concerts and shows
It looked like our flight would be on time, but only a few minutes after we sat down, was the announcement made the 55-minute flight would be delayed an hour and a half. The ground crew were already organized with hot meals and drinks ready for disgruntled passengers.

The meal featured rice with pickled vegetables, surprisingly decently cooked fish, spicy chicken and stir-fried cabbage. But the wait was unbearable. The airplane finally arrived at the gate, those passengers disembarked, then it had to be cleaned before we were able to finally get on.

And that family with all that luggage? They sat across from us in the aisle. They were two families, with four children in between them, two of them toddlers. All the children wanted to sit together in the middle row, but as the plan was moving towards the runway, the flight attendants had to explain to them that there were only four oxygen masks, not five and so someone would have to move. The quick-thinking father then just took one of the babies and put him on his lap, though he and his wife changed seats later in the flight.

Where are the staff to check in all these passengers?
To say we were relieved to get back to Hong Kong is an understatement! We didn't check our baggage in so we could leave the airport as soon as we cleared immigration.

By the time we got home it was midnight after having spent four hours at Xiamen Airport.

Flying in China is not for those whose patience has run out...

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