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Gulangyu Mansion, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

We haven’t had the chance to post anything in the last few days, and really, they’re days we’d probably rather forget. This photo is of a colonial mansion on Gulangyu Island near Xiamen, where we stayed for the past couple of days. It looks nice here, but other than that I don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. Not even the internet worked here.

Historically Xiamen was a major colonial trading area. During the 17- and 1800s the British, Portuguese and others all at different times ruled over the port. I wonder if that’s why they disliked us so much? Perhaps the more recent occupation by foreigners has soured the locals’ impression of foreigners, or maybe I’m wrong. I couldn’t find anyone who speaks English to confirm or deny this.

We arrived late on Monday evening. Our plane landed around 9:30 p.m. There were no Americans on the flight. The plane had TVs on it, and during the flight they played a Tom & Jerry cartoon followed by something that looked like European candid camera. There were no earphones, they played the audio over speakers. The Chinese laughed out loud at the programs. The girl across the aisle from us threw up in her paper bag during the descent.

We planned to stay on Gulangyu island. No cars or bikes are allowed there, and it’s where the rich traders built their colonial mansions. It’s supposed to be the good place to stay. A free ferry that lasts about 10 minutes takes people back and forth until midnight. We had a cab drop us off at the ferry port (this was difficult to accomplish). We had called a hotel the guidebook recommended on the island earlier in the day to reserve a room. The desk attendant didn’t speak English very well, so I had the Chinese lady at our Yangshuo hotel call on my behalf. She told us the price of the room and that we would be fine as long as we arrived by 11 p.m. as the desk closes.

We rode the ferry and found the place. The Chinese lady at the desk said “no open, only Chinese” over and over. They don’t take foreigners. Our options were limited. I watched over our packs, and Michael hunted around for another place to stay. Not many options. He came across a hostel, for which we were very thankful. It was cheap and had availability, and that’s about all I can say for it. I am glad I went ahead and got the better malaria meds as I woke up with about 7 mosquito bites on the exposed side of my face. Poor Michael couldn’t sleep through the bugs, and while swatting his face he actually scratched himself with his fingernail and has a scab on his cheek.

So if we look a bit ragged in our Hong Kong photos, that’s why. We are in the big city now and it’s really great. More about that later.