2016 Winter Travels: Kuglangsu

My family usually spend Christmas together, but this past Christmas it was quite different. My mom, sister and I took a morning flight on the 25th from Nanjing to Shenzhen (mainly because I wanted to see their airport), leaving my dad behind in Nanjing, to spend a week in southern China. Although Nanjing really can’t be considered north geographically, we’ve had enough of the cold by then.  After arriving in Shenzhen, we left my sister with mom’s friends and headed straight for the train station. We were on our way to Xiamen, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

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So here was the thing, neither my mom and I are good at geography (in my defense I’ve never taken Chinese Geography in elementary school before I moved). We somehow thought that since both Shenzhen and Xiamen are in the south, they must be close to each other. They were 360 miles away from each other.

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Our main stop in Xiamen is actually a small sea island called Kulangsu. Although it has now become a tourist attraction, back in the days it was a major site for western influences. There were many international commercial and financial institutions, consulates and diplomatic agencies scattered across the 1.88 kilometer squared island. The multiple cultures that co-existed shaped the island’s identity and more noticeably it’s architectures. The juxtaposition between the old and the new, Eastern and Western styles are all over the island.

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Although the island is tiny, the food there is amazing. There were also many Taiwanese snacks available due to it’s physical proximity to Taiwan. One of my favorite snack during my whole winter trip was the Roasted Grass Jelly. I was addicted to it. Not only was it super yummy, it was also good for your body. The shop we found also gave you free refills for the grass jelly tea after you’ve finished if you keep the cup. You can be 100% sure that I took full advantage of this. Honestly, looking at the picture is making me crave for the snack.

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Thinking back on it, even though the island was tiny (you can honestly finish all the attractions in one day), I loved it. This is really surprising because I’m the type of person who loves big cities that have a million and one things going on, but the vibe of Kulangsu captured me. The beach and the ocean wasn’t breath taking like Jamaica but it was calming, I could stare at for hours. I don’t know when will I be able to visit again, so I’m carefully storing away memories of this special place.

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