Saturday, April 7, 2007

Under the Boardwalk, Down by the Sea

Actually, we walked ON the Boardwalk, not UNDER it, but a little poetic license is allowed so I can make yet another 60s music reference, right?!

Xiamen has a boardwalk from the University Beach for 5 kilometers along the coast. We decided to walk it today – or at least to walk part of it! The boardwalk is just that – a sidewalk made out of boards. In some parts it is directly on the beach, and in other parts it is on high pilings over the sea. And in some parts it detours to stone walkways along the shore that predate the boardwalk.

You know how this starts – to get to the beach, we go down the hill to Beach Gate and cross Island Ring Road on the pedestrian bridge. But first . . . .

We walked through the park to see if the latest art installation was still there. Earlier in the week we suddenly saw an old boat rising above colorful rocks appear in the park. We don’t know exactly what it’s supposed to be, but I’m thinking it’s supposed to be art. But that’s about as far as I get!
As we passed the student dorms, we came upon a show and sale – but of what? I thought it was a stamp show at first, but the sizes weren’t quite right. An older man who spoke some English explained that they were cards that come with match boxes. Some of them were new – a set of Olympic cards that included Beijing 2008, for example. Some of them were old – some risqué etchings of Japanese women, for one. They are considered collectibles, we were told. We each picked a set – Zoe got Chinese zodiac cards, Maya picked ink drawings of horses, and I picked a set of 62 Chinese opera masks. I also got a set of cavorting lion dancers. (They’ll make great ephemera for scrapbook pages!).

The boardwalk made for an interesting walk, not so much because of the ocean but because of all the fun stuff we saw along the way. We passed old fishing boats tied to a floating metal pier, old fishermen fishing from the boardwalk, a small family temple to a Chinese god I didn’t recognize, an old fort, restaurants that had courtyards and even tents on the beach, old gardens and new parks.

One area was obviously the rich part of town, with free-standing, multi-storied houses that looked a bit like Mediterranean villas. The yards were tiny, but apparently big enough in China to justify having a BIG dog – as we walked that stretch of the boardwalk we heard lots of barking dogs, and saw several large ones, including a beautiful black lab.

In one park, we found the world’s largest pineapple:

OK, so maybe it’s really some kind of palm tree, but it sure looks like the world’s largest pineapple!

We found the bathing beach, with no bathers since it was cold. But there were folks sitting on the beach in rented beach loungers. There were even Baywatch towers for the lifeguards!

The girls petered out shortly after playing on the ubiquitous exercise equipment in one of the parks. We headed down to the Island Ring Road to catch a bus home. Bus 47 came along right on schedule, and wouldn’t you know it? We’d only walked two stops from the Beach Gate! It sure felt longer with the many detours and stops we took along the boardwalk.

We stopped at a market on our way home and bought some yummy fruit to have with our lunch. I have no idea what it is, but we saw lots of people on the beach eating them. They are yellow, egg-shaped, with three sizeable pits/seeds inside, and they taste a bit like apricots. Can anyone tell me what they are from this picture? They are really quite good, and the girls loved that they were egg-shaped this close to Easter. In fact, they decided not to eat them all with lunch so we could put some out for the Easter Bunny. He’s sure to love egg-shaped fruit!

After a late lunch and a rest, we took our red ball out to the courtyard in front of our apartment building to play.
We share the courtyard with a restaurant. Despite the fact that it is on our doorstep, we haven’t been there yet. Our waiban was pretty dismissive of it when I asked him about it, saying it was a tourist place. And sure enough, we see busloads of people stop there for lunch and dinner. But given the fact that we are tourists of a sort, we’ll check it out one day.

Before each lunch and dinner shift, the employees meet in the courtyard for inspection/instruction/pep talk. We see this at LOTS of shops and restaurants before the work begins, the workers lined up in front of a managerial type who is giving instructions.

This group is funny because they end the session with a little cheer and clapping. I have no idea what the cheer is, I can just imagine:
Manager: What are we going to give them?

Workers: Good food!

Manager: How are we going to serve them?

Workers: With a smile!

Everybody: CLAP, CLAP, CLAP!
Well, I better get some things done and go to bed if the Easter Bunny is going to come – he doesn’t show up until everyone is asleep, you know. Nighty-night!


mimifrancoise said...

The way you described your walk, it sounded like you walked such a long way....2 blocks huh? That's funny. It looks like Zoe has grown so much since you left. She is much taller than Maya now.

Anonymous said...

According to my former student, the fruit is called a pipa.

Anonymous said...

Also, Maggie and Meredith love the picture of the "big pinapple!"