|China map shaped like a hen, with a |
leg lifted (Hong Kong) and another
leg jutted out (Taiwan?)
|"Peaceful Reunification" and "One Country |
Two System" billboard propaganda in
Xiamen, aimed at Taiwan
|"Three Principles of the People Unite China", |
The first time I visited Xiamen was in October 2002 via Hong Kong. From the air as my plane approached Xiamen Gaoqi Airport, Xiamen city look brownish and garish, a sign of pollution. Landing at the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport was a breeze. It is a modern airport with domestic flight terminal on the left and international flight terminal on the right. The first impression of Xiamen Gaoqi airport that caught my attention were those antique planes that hung onto the wall above overhead as we headed towards the immigration counter. The immigration process was a little bit cumbersome but I emerged out of the airport some 30 minutes later, with my fellow colleague in tow. While queuing for the taxi, we were harassed by touts and young chaps who thrust name cards with seductively dressed lady with phone numbers, onto our hands. The taxi service was good and every taxi uses meter - no need to hassle over the fare. Right before my taxi were about to pull out of the airport to my hotel, a young chap, around 20 years old, threw more calling cards into my taxi through the open window. I guess everyone also have KPIs to meet!
In my previous posting I wrote about 3 culture shock lessons on the very first day itself. The lessons did not stop, in fact the following day I had another one more. That day, after dinner with my Chinese counterparts, we decided to walk to a shopping mall. It was about 10-15 minutes stroll along a busy road. The Chinese drove on the right side of the road like in America, but it was not an issue for me since I am used to America's road system. The honking was incessant, but what worried me most was the electric bicycle that can sneaked up on you without sound and gave you a fright. However what caught me by surprise was not the bicycle. As we neared the shopping mall, from afar I saw a big group of people congregated on a peddler frying some something. Then the smell hit me - the air was putrid and rancid, like someone's smelly socks not washed for ages and mixed with shit. I nearly vomited and had to pinch my nose to stop the inhalation. I cannot place in my memory what those smell was. However as I neared the group, I realized the smell came from the busy peddler frying a food called 'stinky tofu (臭豆腐) '. I have heard of stinky tofu before but never seen or smell or eaten one before. After the whiff, I will definitely not try them even though aficionados claims how good it is and some droll over it. Taiwan and Hong Kong had their own stinky tofu version and each claimed they have the world best. I just cannot force myself to stomach stinky tofu even though it was served in a restaurant setting. There was a rumor that stinking tofu was soak in shit. I hope the rumor came about because of its smell and not true. Yuck!
|Stinky tofu anyone? This food smells strongly, |
like durian or salted fish or heko or belacan. It
is either one hate it or love it.