Xiamen Shining in the Eyes of Two Baltimore Area Brothers
The island of Xiamen is movie ready with its palm trees, boardwalk and beach. Everything in this picturesque city was surreal from the people to the scenery. We met welcoming people that treated you like family as soon we landed.
The first thing we were greeted with was the amazing weather. When we stepped outside it felt wonderful. Many say with highs of 90 degree F it is too hot, but we really enjoyed the heat. The next thing that caught our attention was the City Hotel Xiamen. The architecture and design of the facility was modern and inviting. From the decor to the breakfast everything was top notch. The lobby had a gorgeous ceiling scape with lights and sculptures.
On the first day, we were introduced to five youth liaisons that escorted us through the 2017 BRICS Summit facility. This impressive facility is where government officials meet for summits and meetings. It was great to sit and experience a room where world diplomats and leaders sat and made decisions in the past. Each room was decorated with different flowers and their own unique centerpiece. Before walking into each conference space two enormous doors greeted you.
In the afternoon we visited The Youth and Children’s Palace where a dance class and band performed for us. This was one of the most prestigious institution for local primary schools in the area. It had more floors than I can remember. The first class that performed was the band. They played their traditional instruments flawlessly. We then headed over to the dance room. These young performers were no older than five or six years old. The routine that was executed looked almost professional. Every movement was synchronized and precise. It was the most impressive showcase we have seen in a long time.
That night we had the pleasure of dinning at a local seafood restaurant called Small Glasses and met an official of the Xiamen Municipal Foreign And Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. She gave us many gifts. One of the gifts that stood out was a book of the Xiamen landmarks. She treated us like family. The food that she ordered for us was new; some of the meat dishes still had the heads attached. Despite the different appearance of the food items, the meal was delicious. “The time went fast because of the intriguing conversation during dinner” says the elder brother Alexander Garnett.
The next day we went downtown to look at pop up shops in the city. There were arcades, pubs, small apparel stores, and restaurants; all uniquely themed and designed well. The owner of the grounds gave us a tour and said if we ever wanted to own a space there, all we had to do is let him know.
The following day we took a boat to see a neighboring island of Gulangyu. We walked across the entire island studying monuments and went to museums for the day. “The heat was brutal that day and my shirt was soaked by the time I got back,” adds Alexander. On the same day, we went to a facility that showcased the entire city. The staff gave us a Virtual Reality tour of the entire city. The floor to ceiling screens with 360' degree images was amazing. There was also a handmade 3D map of the entire city of Xiamen in another part of the building. This map included all the major mountains and buildings that reside in Xiamen. You have to see it for yourself one day.
Additionally, we visited a piano museum, which is the only museum in China dedicated solely to pianos. The museum was established by Hu Youyi, a patriotic overseas Chinese from Gulangyu, who collected the pianos from the Americas, Austria, Australia, Great Britain, and France. “Playing one of the piano was one of the best parts of the visit”, says the younger brother Aaron Garnett.
To finish, this trip exceeded all expectations. Coming to Xiamen in hopes of expanding our circle of contacts, experience new things and eating great food turned into a reality. If you love meeting great people and want to learn more about China, come to Xiamen. The weather is amazing; there are beaches, boardwalks, memorable museums, beautiful sights and a great atmosphere.
By Aaron and Alexander Garnett