View from the bus – travels in Xiamen, China

IMG_8770IMG_8770These are not good photos, more just memory joggers for me as I write about my recent travels to Wellington’s sister-city, Xiamen – in Fujian Province, China – so, I hope you enjoy this  unedited slideshow. Check out the other blogs I’ve written and watch for more to come about Xiamen: one of China’s top 10 pretty cities.

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Wellington’s sister city, Xiamen, Fujian,China

IMG_7353IMG_7353Fujian province seems almost unknown to most Western travellers but it’s the most famous – and perhaps China’s most-visited – area for local tourism. Friends are amazed that I’m not visiting the terracotta warriors, the great wall or any of the major cities of this huge country. However, spending more time in one region is, for me, preferable to rushing around to see all the must-see places. That being said, we did have to hurry to see just some of this city and region in a week.

Secretive and reclusive were terms often used about China but things are changing. Home to about one in six of the world’s population it’s not surprising they have embraced consumerism.

You will know it’s home to chopsticks, calligraphy, acupuncture, the Silk Road, and Tiananmen Square, and of course the Chinese invented paper, printing, gunpowder – and the umbrella.

IMG_7348IMG_7348Xiamen, the city by the sea, (or garden city) at the mouth of the Nine Dragon River has often been labelled one of China’s most beautiful cities. It’s also been called a garden on the sea and is consistently named one of China’s most livable cities, and was once called Amoy by Westerners.

The climate is subtropical, and as it is on the coast, with very little heavy industry, and no coal for domestic heating, it’s cleaner than most Chinese cities.

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This island city, which is just opposite Taiwan, has been an important trading port since the Song Dynasty 960 until 1279 and was a seaport open to foreign trade. The Portuguese with the first European traders in 1541. It is still an important trading place especially as it was one of the first four special economic zones in 1981.

Many natives of this area immigrated to Southeast Asia and Taiwan during the 19th and 20th century and in fact, many other overseas Chinese originated from here too – and they love returning home to the land of their fathers for holidays.

More blogs to come will be about: art/artists, temples, food, Gulang Yu island, the Hui’an women, Laojun, Riyuegu hot pools, Little Egrets dancers, and the Nangjing tulou- just to name a few)

NOTE: I travelled in this region as part of a cultural delegation from its sister city Wellington, New Zealand. See more here – www.wellingtonxiamen.com and check #Xiamen for WXA photos on Instagram.

Photos of public art in the Wellington Botanic Gardens, NZ

 

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Grab a free map of the sculpture walk to see these, and many more great pieces of art, Wellington’s Botanic Gardens.

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I took these photos on a recent walk … and thought others may like to see them. Take the cable car from the CBD up to the gardens and wander around these lovely gardens.

I join a delegation to visit Xiamen, China

The island city Xiamen
The island city Xiamen

Tomorrow I leave New Zealand with a delegation of Wellington, New Zealand citizens – and we’re heading to our sister city, Xiamen, South China.

Once known as Amoy, this island of 4 million has been an important port for centuries, and is a vibrant, modern, and affluent city – rather like Wellington, all except being an important port for centuries, and NZ as a country only has only about 4.5 million.

xiamen 2The Wellington Xiamen Association is a volunteer group of locals who, with the support of the Wellington City Council, form long-term relationships between the two cities by exploring each other’s culture through information, events and various projects in education, art and culture.

 

 

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On this trip, in a gesture of goodwill, a large choice of quality, award-winning books from Te Papa Press will be presented to the Xiamen city’s chief librarian.

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In essence, sister city organisations promote peace through people-to-people relationships, including programmes varying from basic cultural exchange programmes to shared research and development projects between linked cities.

Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Sister Cities International is non-partisan, non-profit organisation and around the world has tens of thousands of citizen-diplomats and volunteers in 570 member communities with over 2,300 partnerships in 150 countries on six continents.

The 'best little capital in the world' according to Lonely Planet
The ‘best little capital in the world’ according to Lonely Planet

This Wellington delegation includes, artists, translators, photographers and me, as a travel writer of course.

20160520_184152We have met twice, over Chinese food of course, and all told me they look forward to being good ambassadors from New Zealand’s capital city, as well as bringing information back about the culture of Xiamen to share with other Wellingtonians.

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For more information: See www.wellingtonxiamen.com and, of course, watch this blog for stories and photos from our week there and what appears to be a full, and diverse, itinerary.

 

Wandering with Walk Wellington

20160419_104332.jpgHad a  great 2 or 3 hours today with Walk Wellington.

Interestingly, the others on the walk were all Wellingtonians (U3A Members) and all were learning things about the city they didn’t know.

Here are some of today’s photos :

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Wellington’s 1840s shoreline and Maori history walk

Last week I joined a group to walk Te Ara o nga Tupuna – a Māori heritage trail through downtown Wellington, following the old 1840s shoreline.

Our section of the walk took about two hours and started at Pipitea Marae. If you cannot join such a tour, the visitor iSite Centre beside the public library has a brochure that you too can follow. (‘The path of our ancestors’ includes a driving trail around Miramar Peninsula.)

Appropriately the pou at the top of Pipitea Marae, is of Maui – the well-known trickster of Polynesian mythology. It is appropriate as Maui is credited with fishing up the North Island, and the mouth of this fish is Wellington Harbour. The first Polynesian navigators of this area were Kupe and Ngahue who camped on the southern area of the harbour. (Seatoun)

Pipitea Marae was built in the early 1980s on the site of an old village overlooking the harbour and close to fresh water supplies and pipi beds. Pipi are a popular shellfish among many Kiwi. The 1840 shoreline has changed considerably, mostly due to reclamation, which has destroyed many traditional food sources. Other changes, near Waitangi Park have been due to earthquakes which lifted the land.

Plaques set in the footpath show where the water used to reach. Walking along Lambton Quay, the main shopping area in Wellington, we hear stories about the names of many streams which were used particularly for women during pregnancy and childbirth.

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Wellington sanctuary has 500 year vision to save species

Zealandia is a sanctuary  with a difference:  it has a vision for 500 years – its goal,  to restore  this Wellington valley to its pre- human state. It’s twenty years into the plan!

Only minutes  from the centre of New Zealand’s capital,  and parliament buildings,  it’s a great place  to spend a few hours,  a day  or, take an evening guided walk to check out New Zealand  wildlife  flora and fauna.  I spent a couple of hours there  2 days ago  and here just a few of the many photos I took. (search in this blog for other Zealandia posts I’ve written)

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