In which I visit the rarely explored city of Fuzhou
I would probably never have gone to Fuzhou (pronounced fujoe, just like Zhangzhou where I live now is jangjoe) if it hadn’t of been for my New Zealand visa medical – I was really lucky that there was a designated hospital in Fujian, the province I’m living in. Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian and was either a 2 hour train journey or 4 hour bus trip for me from Zhangzhou. Unfortunately, with my visit coinciding with the end of Spring Festival, train tickets were not available, so I had to go for the 4 hour bus journey at ¥120 for a single trip. For this price, the seats were really comfortable and the ride was comfortable too as it was on the main roads and motorways.
We stopped after 2 hours for a rest around lunchtime (we set off at 9.30am), only to get back on the bus and the driver was handing out a McChicken burger to everyone – a little random! Everyone also got a bottle of water so we did pretty well there.
As I needed to stay in Fuzhou for a couple of nights, I’d first checked if there were any hostels in the city. No luck. I then checked my usual haunt of booking.com to no avail either. So, I sent out a Couchsurfing request. Couchsurfing is a site where you can advertise your couch or spare room for travellers to come and stay and vice versa. I was really lucky in the fact that Kelvin, a Kiwi who’s just moved to Fuzhou to teach, responded really quickly and offered his spare room for me to crash in for the 2 nights I needed, excellent! This was also my first Couchsurfing experience, so I was really excited about that too. We’d swapped numbers and he’d text me his Chinese address, so as soon as we arrived in Fuzhou and I’d bought my return ticket to Zhangzhou, I hopped in a taxi to Kelvin’s flat.
Turned out, Kelvin had been living in China for only a week! I felt worldly and old when talking to him about China most of the time, but we had a good chat and he was keen to show me around the city, despite not knowing much about it himself. We headed out to catch the double decker sightseeing bus (yes, I couldn’t believe there was one either!) which served the dual purpose of introducing me to Fuzhou, whilst letting Kelvin get his bearings.
We bought a ticket for ¥10, which meant we could hop on and off all day. We decided to do the whole loop, then on the second loop we would get off somewhere. However, this didn’t run to plan as the bus we were on stopped at the beginning and the other bus left before we could get on it, darn! Nevertheless, we decided to try and walk somewhere ourselves…and got lost! I wasn’t worried though and decided that this was a good way to explore the city. We hopped back into another taxi to get back to Kelvin’s flat and for some food.
We then met up with some of Kelvin’s colleagues, Liam and Joe from Plymouth. They all work for York English School in Fuzhou and there are around 40 foreign teachers spread over 4 locations. We went to this amazing Mexican restaurant so I was a little sad we’d already eaten, so I indulged in a pudding instead. Mini banana waffle things with ice cream and a shot of espresso. I didn’t take a photo, which was a mistake as it was delicious! The lads were all drinking German beer and usually I would not think twice about joining in, but because of my medical the next morning I wasn’t allowed to consume alcohol. 🙁
A merry journey around the city’s bars and meeting various colleagues who have been there ranging from a week to 1 and a half years, we got home at 2:30am. I had to get to the hospital for 8:00am… No problem as I hadn’t been drinking!
Medical the next morning in Fujian Provincial Hospital, then, leaving Kelvin to recover from the previous night in peace, I went to the Xichan Temple complex near his flat. Kelvin has said it was large and cost ¥30 for entry. He wasn’t lying as to how big it was!
There was a large lake, full of fish and terrapins of some kind. Their noses in the water were pretty funny:
There was a nice pagoda over the water so I messed around with water reflections and my self timer:
There was a nice bridge over the water and behind it two large temples, a very tall one and one that was 7 stories high with large space inside for various figurines.
The tall temple was pretty breathtaking. It’s probably the tallest pagoda type building I’ve seen in China so far. Even taller than the Big Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.
I had a good wander around Xichan Temple complex and it was a beautiful day as you can see, which made it even more special.
I think it’s one of the more spectacular complexes I’ve seen, and remember, I’ve been to the Forbidden City three times now…
Next on my list was Sanfangqixiang – an area called Three Alleys and Seven lanes. Kelvin had shown me it on the sightseeing bus. It’s on NanHou Street in Fuzhou and is a remarkable street as it is all decorated in an old Chinese style, yet is all brand new. It reminded me of the Qianmen area in Beijing as it even had a Starbucks:
Finally, I found another park, where the trees were all in bloom and beautiful!
I had a great time in Fuzhou. I’d like to thank Kelvin again for his hospitality – you showed me a lot despite having only been there for a week! I had a good bowl of noodles before heading back on the bus to Zhangzhou, minus the McChicken sandwich this time however…