1. Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. A nomadic friend of mine once described China as a place with “lots of beautiful things to see, nothing to do”. On more than one level, I know exactly what he meant. When it comes to Chinese cities I know what I’m gonna get in a round about way – another stunning temple, delicious, cheap, rough and ready street food and at least a handful of meticulously sculpted parks and gardens. I’d like to think of myself as something of a Chinese park connoisseur, lord only knows I’ve seen enough of them over the years. In Xiamen alone there are ten in and around the city centre, so I had to do my research and handpick just a few for special attention.
2. Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. Bailuzhou Park is an island within an island, situated in the north of the city in the middle of Yundang Inner Lake. Sauntering along the central stone path, surrounded by manicured lawns and sky-scraping city views, the vibe was very much one of tiredness and reflection after the unforgiving onslaught of Typhoon Nesat. Still, around a dozen or so hardy locals came out to gaze up at the broken sky and feed the pigeons. The dude in the yellow hat was selling pigeon feed.
3. Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. Beyond the pigeon district there were very few people about. I came across an old man staring at a flooded square and passed a serious-looking couple floating across a lawn hand in hand. This lone wolf was performing Tai chi in a secluded corner. I stood watching him for quite some time and at some point he caught sight of me as his body drifted to the left, but he barely broke his stride.
4. Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. In the west side of the park I chanced upon four middle-aged ladies cleaning up the mess left by the typhoon. They were raking leaves, clearing fallen branches and planting fresh flowers.
5. Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. The Egret Goddess Statue holds court in the pond of the park’s main square, just across from the south yacht dock. “Would you like me make a photo?” asked the Chinese photographer who’d silently joined my side. His own camera, with its unfeasibly huge lens, hung around his neck like a trophy. Nevertheless, I politely accepted his kind offer, gave him my own humble Sony and showed him where to click.
For more snapshots of this amazing city, check out My 5s from around Xiamen.
Or maybe search further afield with my zillion articles from across China.
I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.