The 44m high West Pagoda, one of two at Quanzhou’s Kaiyuan Temple complex, a Buddhist temple first constructed in the year 686 AD. The temple stands at the west end of Xi Jie (West Street), a bustling thoroughfare recalling the China of the past, of tiny ramshackle businesses, chaotic congested streets, honking buses and outdoor food stalls.
A monk trains a young boy in the yard at Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou.
Door handles on the East Pagoda at Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou.
A doorway on Quanzhou’s Xi Jie. The city seems to be awakening from a tourist slumber, cleaning up the old parts of the town and erecting plaques in English and Chinese explaining the history of the area.
An egret on Xiamen’s Yundang Inner Lake.
A family walking along the western edge of Xiamen’s Yundang Inner Lake.
The food markets near Xiamen’s pedestrian shopping street, Zhongshan Lu.
Seafood cooked in its shell in the streets around Zhongshan Lu. Xiamen is famous in the rest of China for its seafood.
Xiamen’s south-west shore in the distance, as seen from the highest point on the nearby island of Gu Lang Yu. Gu Lang Yu has historically been the preserve of foreigners, working in embassies and living in ostentatious villas, giving the island a colonial European atmosphere that helps make it a top-3 destination for Chinese domestic tourism.
Workers unloading construction materials from boats on Gu Lang Yu, an island that is practically free of vehicles.
This means that bricks and sand and cement and everything else gets pulled by men using handcarts like these.
A dapper man in a suit jacket on a sampan sorts his catch for the day on the eastern shore of Gu Lang Yu.
Because of its quaint architecture and scenic locations, the island is hugely popular with local newlyweds, who often eschew the black-and-white traditions we’re used to and go for colourful dresses and hipster vests.
Back on Xiamen itself, a tour group prepares for a photo in front of the 280mm German-built cannon at Huli Shan Fortress on the island’s southern shore.
The fortress occupies 13,000 square metres and has a collection of cannons, of which the 280mm, with its 7km accurate range, is the largest. It claimed a Japanese destroyer in 1941 and has a large feature about that event. More recent hostilities have been with the nationalist-controlled Taiwanese island of Jinmen, to the east of Xiamen. Whether those events are less important, or just that they don’t fit neatly into the Chinese national myth perhaps time will tell.