Right now I should be on Gulangyu, a small island just off the coast of Xiamen. A foreign concession during the late Qing Dynasty, it still has many colonial buildings including a gothic Catholic church. Cars and motorbikes are prohibited, making it a peaceful place to stroll around.
In my pocket, I should have my ticket to another island, Kinmen, for tomorrow morning. Kinmen is just an hour’s ferry journey from Xiamen but is administered by the Republic of China (Taiwan). It was the site of fierce battles between the PRC and ROC and still has a heavy military presence.
I am not on Gulangyu. I do not have a ticket to Kinmen. I am in a shabby hotel near Xiamen train station waiting for Typhoon Megi to stop being a twat. Over the past couple of days, the typhoon hit the Philippines and Taiwan causing damage to coastal roads and killing several people. It’s hitting Xiamen at the moment.
That sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? It’s not – thankfully the typhoon is not as strong now and there’s nothing to see except heavy rain and waving trees. It’s not Hollywood bad weather, with severed limbs and flaming petrol tankers flying through the air. It’s just rain, rain, rain, rain and wind.
Naturally, when I woke up this morning and saw Xiamen and swirling weather graphics all over the TV, I went to the beach to see if there were any tsunamis but all I saw was angry grey water and lashing rain. I went to a former German fort on the seafront. It was locked up and had this sign on the door:
I translated it and it says:
Are you a moron? There’s a typhoon coming so why have you crossed the city and climbed a hill in the pouring rain to see an open-air fort that would obviously be closed? Piss off.
By this time, my sponge-like shoes had sucked up puddles of filthy water, my jeans were also soaked and I couldn’t think of anywhere dry to go. I took some pictures of the clouds then went back to the hotel where I have nothing to do but wait.
Since leaving Pyongyang, I’ve done very little. I spent two nights on trains then one night in Fuzhou. I had a quick look around the city yesterday morning but there was nothing to see. I never wanted to go to Fuzhou – it just happened to be the closest city to Xiamen that still had train tickets available when I got to Beijing. Then I took a coach to Xiamen, walked around for an hour until it got dark and then went to Tesco.
The typhoon should have passed by tomorrow so hopefully I’ll get to see more of Xiamen than a fleapit hotel, Tesco and a closed fort.