Xiamen has become my home away from home. Some might say you can’t really love things or objects, but I love Xiamen. The city feels and breaths life so it’s not just a thing, it’s alive. There’s always something going on and happening. Xiamen is a beautiful city combining new and old types of buildings with a lot of cultural history behind it. Besides, Xiamen is open for western cultural influences and you can see that all over the place, there are many western restaurants which give the city a wider sense of appeal.
I come from a small village in the east of The Netherlands and life in my opinion is pretty boring over there. After 6 when most shops have closed there is almost nobody on the streets anymore so it kind of feels deserted. I never saw myself as a city person, but I feel Xiamen combines the two things I like. Many places in Xiamen are still like a village but then you just go in a certain direction for some time and you will be back in the city. So you can enjoy a peaceful calm life here and still enjoy the benefits of a big city.
In total I have been in Xiamen for almost 2,5 years and I still like it as much as in the beginning. I studied Chinese for 1 year and sadly that was in Xiang’an district where it is too much of a village of me. The university campus was in the middle of nowhere on the mainland surrounded by sheep and cows. They are building around it nowadays so there will be much more to do, but when I was there it was a little boring and too quiet in my opinion. I wasn’t there to have fun but to learn Chinese, it’s a very difficult language so therefore very challenging but also very rewarding.
This one time I was driving around in Xiamen and then I realized again how much I love this city and the traffic. The traffic is like a river, just go with the flow and everything will be fine. It is a bit chaotic but in a structural way and I love it. There is this road around the island and while driving it you can see the ocean clearly. The sun was slowly setting and you could see the warm red glow of the sun through the palm trees softly, elegantly shine on me. I was loving what I saw on the left side, but then I started looking on my right. I saw things that just made me happy to be alive in this moment. First off I saw a group of old age women dancing gently on some Chinese music and around them there were children playing and chasing each other with huge smiles on their faces. Moments later I saw a guy driving on an electric powered unicycle and right at that moment he got overtaken by someone on a big quadbike. He was startled and almost lost his balance, but he didn’t get mad even not when he saw me laughing my socks off. Just a few seconds later I see some beautiful girls trying to ride a tandem bicycle, they were not doing very well but seemingly they had so much fun together and that gave me a huge smile. At that moment I started to pass Zeng Cuo An which is a beautiful and choosy little neighborhood with a lot of different kind of shops. It’s a big tourist attraction for Chinese tourist, but still very much affordable. On my left side I saw a public open cinema on the beach playing a Chinese movie with both Chinese and English subtitles. I was on my way to Daring Duck which is a fun place on the beach where they hold parties and is a scouting club for mostly children. You can image that my mood was awesome and happy. When I arrived I popped open a cold beer, lit a cigarette all the while staring at the ocean, seeing the sun slowly disappear behind the horizon. My hearth felt full, full of love, happiness and satisfaction. It’s a strange feeling when you think that a city and random strangers can give you this feeling.
I love Xiamen, the people, the language, the culture and it all feels closer to my hearth than everything that silly little country called The Netherlands has to offer. Xiamen, I will be back.