1. Chongwu Stone Arts Expo Park Beach, February 2018. I should start this article by saying that I’ve cheated a little bit here. Strictly speaking I should have covered Chongwu Stone Arts Expo Park with just a singular Top 5. But then I was so taken with the compound’s gorgeous little private beach that it felt wrong to cram in one or two photos at the end, at the expense of some sculptural delights.
1. Chongwu Stone Arts Expo Park, February 2018. The only reason to make the trek out to the isolated Chinese outpost of Chongwu is for this fascinating park, set between a section of the town’s ancient walls and a pretty strip of beach overlooking The Taiwan Strait. The section of wall that runs through the park dates back to 1387 and is one of the best preserved city walls in China.
1. Chongwu Town, February 2018. The ancient walled city of Chongwu is fascinatingly situated in southeastern China’s Fujian province, right on a peninsula jutting out into The Taiwan Strait. In reality though Chongwu isn’t a city, but a run-down fishing town with a tourist industry that revolves around the truly impressive Stone Arts Expo Park.
1. Qingjing Mosque, February 2018. The arresting ruins of this city centre mosque can be found on Tumen Street, just a five-minute walk down from Guandi Temple. Built in 1009, this is China’s second oldest mosque and a major pilgrimage point for the country’s Muslim community.
1. Qingyuan Mountain, February 2018. The beautiful Qingyuan Mountain is a protected national park region of China’s Fujian province, located just three kilometers outside the city of Quanzhou. Dating back to Imperial China’s Tang Dynasty, the mountain is famed for its giant statue of Laozi (also known as Yuxian Rock), the founder of Chinese Taoism.
1. Guandi Temple, February 2018. As with most Chinese cities, there are plenty of temples scattered around Quanzhou. I consider myself something of a temple veteran, so decided to limit myself to this magnificently carved city centre structure on Tumen Street.
1. Sweet Mao, August 2017. It was mid afternoon on Gulangyu when, all of a sudden, the heavens opened and the rain came beating down. So I sprinted off through the nearest stone gate and into a colonial courtyard with brick arches, twisting trees and a statue of a red-haired, cartoon cat. Sweet Mao announced a number of playful signs; the home of sweet tea, handmade nougat and thoughtful gifts.