Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 25

Where The Wind Takes Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 - Apr 21-22 2024Plane (Edmonton > Calgary > Tokyo)Edmonton, CanadaTokyo, Japan
Day 1 - Tue Apr 23 2024Akihabara, Sensoji, Tokyo Sky Arena, Taiwan Food FestivalTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 2 - Wed Apr 24 2024Nezu Shrine, Tokyo National MuseumTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 3 - Thu Apr 25 2024Akihabara, Ginza, Yurakucho, Bocchi the Rock! Exhibition (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 4 - Fri Apr 26 2024Craft Gyoza Fes, Niku Fes, Odaiba, Kameido Tenjin ShrineTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 5 - Sat Apr 27 2024Niconico Chokaigi 2024Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 6 - Sun Apr 28 2024M3-53Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 7 - Mon Apr 29 2024Train (Tokyo > Osaka)Tokyo, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 8 - Tue Apr 30 2024Tsurumibashi, Expo Commemorative Park, Osaka Station (with Miyu)Osaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 9 - Wed May 01 2024Kyoto, Takenobu Inari Shrine, SaiinOsaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 10 - Thu, May 02 2024Train (Osaka > Tokyo)Osaka, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 11 - Fri May 03 2024Reitaisai 21Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 12 - Sat May 04 2024Japan Jam 2024 (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 13 - Sun May 05 2024National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 14 - Mon May 06 2024Plane (Tokyo > Taipei), Liaoning Night MarketTokyo, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 15 - Tue May 07 2024Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, Ximending Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 16 - Wed May 08 2024Shilin Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 17 - Thu May 09 2024Raohe Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 18 - Fri May 10 2024Songjiang Market, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Shida Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 19 - Sat May 11 2024Dihua Street, Huaxi Street Night Market, Guangzhou Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 20 - Sun May 12 2024Gongguan Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 21 - Mon May 13 2024Plane (Taipei > HK), Train (HK > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelTaipei, TaiwanGuangzhou, China
Day 22 - Tue May 14 2024Zhongfu Square, Alpaca Sighting (with Kel), Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 23 - Wed May 15 2024Panyu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 24 - Thu May 16 2024Nancun Wanbo (with Kel), Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 25 - Fri May 17 2024Train (Guangzhou > Xiamen), Zhongshan RoadGuangzhou, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 26 - Sat May 18 2024Xiamen Railway StationXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 27 - Sun May 19 2024Mingfa Shopping MallXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 28 - Mon May 20 2024Train (Xiamen > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelXiamen, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 29 - Tue May 21 2024Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 30 - Wed May 22 2024Tianhe Computer Town, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 31 - Thu May 23 2024Comic City, Shangxiajiu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 32 - Fri May 24 2024Train (Guangzhou > Hong Kong)Guangzhou, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 33 - Sat May 25 2024Wan Chai, Temple StreetHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 34 - Sun May 26 2024Chungking Mansions, Nathan Road, Ladies' MarketHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 35 - Mon May 27 2024Central Market, Sino CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 36 - Tue May 28 2024Tea at Minimal (with WingBenny), Dragon CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 37 - Wed May 29 2024Plane (HK > Singapore), Tampines N2 Shopping StreetHong Kong, ChinaSimei, Singapore
Day 38 - Thu May 30 2024Tampines Regional CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 39 - Fri May 31 2024Lunch (with Debbie and Zixiang), Bras Basah Complex, I Light SingaporeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 40 - Sat Jun 01 2024People's Park Complex, People's Park CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 41 - Sun Jun 02 2024BishanSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 42 - Mon Jun 03 2024Dunman High School, Katong Shopping Centre, Parkway ParadeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 43 - Tue Jun 04 2024Hell's MuseumSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 44 - Wed Jun 05 2024Flight (Singapore > San Francisco > Vancouver > Edmonton)Simei, SingaporeEdmonton, Canada
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts!Edmonton, CanadaWe'll see

Friday, May 17 2024 (Day 25)

Late last night, Kel booked me a trip to Xiamen for today. Specifically, this was to Xiamen Railway Station, in the middle of Xiamen, but from Guangzhou East Railway Station instead of Guangzhou South Railway Station, where I had arrived from. Yes, cities have multiple railway stations within the China-wide high speed railway network. Also, my return trip is on Monday afternoon and goes from Xiamen North Railway Station (and not Xiamen Railway Station where I arrived from), and goes to Guangzhou South Railway Station (instead of Guangzhou East where I had left from). Got all that?

Me neither. I think Kel is toying around with me. (This was the cheapest and most reasonable route though, in actuality, and I can navigate around in both cities using the local railway just fine.)

We had picked Xiamen for two reasons — one was that Xiamen was in Fujian province, where the Hokkien dialect (which our family uses) comes from and also likely where some of our ancestors were from in the past, since a lot of Singaporeans seem to be from around that area, we think. So it would be vaguely like an ancestral visit. Next, Xiamen was picked over the other cities (like larger Fuzhou) because it was nearer to where Guangzhou was by a significant margin and so the train journey there and back would be cheaper. I could have used a plane there and back too, but a train was significantly cheaper, and I love riding trains in general, whereas I want lesser plane rides in my life, not more.

One other reason I did not state is that Xiamen was one of the many options that I was considering as a gateway from North America to Asia anyway, as I had discovered that there apparently is an airline called Xiamen Air that is fairly cheap and that flies from various ports in North America to Xiamen (and a few other cities in China), and then Xiamen (and a few other cities in China) to other cities in Asia. In addition, it helps facilitate a program (local) that allows visitors to stop over and even experience China for up to 6 days without actually needing to apply for and obtain a Chinese visa, which I thought was really cool. I had never actually even heard of Xiamen before finding that out though, so I had no idea what sort of place Xiamen was, and I figured that this was a good chance to find out.

Anyway, I had managed to finish my work the night before, before going to bed at something like 2 am, but I still woke up at around 6 am today and managed to finish a blog post before I left for the railway station at 9:30 am. I had not taken a picture of the scanners at the entrance of every single local subway train station in China (in all cities, it seems, since both Guangzhou and Xiamen have something similar) yet, so here’s a picture I took.

I reached Guangzhou East Railway Station at some point around 10:30-10:45 am, and although there was a lot less security to walk through compared to the border station, there still was a large shopping mall to walk through to get to the railway station, and then two security posts to go through to the waiting room for my train — one backpack/item scanner to go through to get to the 1st floor restricted area, and an ID check to get through to Waiting Room 4 on the second floor, where my train (and some other trains, largely to Hong Kong) were going off from.

On the way there, I did two things. The first was to try to change my ticket, as Kel had said that I might be able to change my middle-seat ticket to an aisle-seat or window-seat one if there were any cancellations, as long as I did it more than 30 minutes before the train ride, so 11:25 am for my 11:55 am ride, as they stopped selling tickets (and changing seats) for trains 30 minutes before departure. However, by the time I found the ticket office and got in line for it, it was 11:10 am, and this was in front of me:

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen, plus a rude couple cut in front of me since I was slightly off and behind to the side of that red-shirted girl in front of me. Whatever, I walked away and went back in through the item scanner gate (the office was actually outside a different gate with scanner than the one I had entered from, but there was no queue at the gate anyway). I then went to get lunch — or rather, I bought a rice bowl that I could eat on the train, just like my tradition of having an ekiben (train bento) on Japan’s shinkansen everytime I took it! Too bad about that first train ride from Hong Kong to Guangzhou breaking my perfect streak of bento lunches on long-distance trains, though that wasn’t a terribly long ride despite crossing a border.

Anyway, Waiting Room 4 was huge! It looked like this:

Once I got onto the train, there was a guy in the window seat on my right, while the seat to the left of me was empty so I half-scooted over to that seat. The owner of that seat came on on the second or third stop though, and both those guys proceeded to remain on the train for the rest of the train ride to Xiamen too. How dare they. The guy who came on later, and took the aisle seat, also had his table down the entire way JUST TO PUT HIS GLASSES ON IT WHILE HE TRIED TO NAP. Who does that? In an aisle seat? Fold it onto your stupid shirt and stop contributing to your rowmates’ claustrophobia.

Not that I have much claustrophobia, as long as I can take my shoes off, which I could and did. The seats were thin though, basically almost as thin as airplane seats, and much thinner than Japan shinkansen seats. There was only one power socket for the row, and it was between the middle seat and the window seat, so screw that guy in the aisle (but wait, I have an aisle seat on the way back.. though I think mine is in the side of the aisle with two seats instead of the one with three).

I had my lunch about two hours into the ride, which involved adding cold water (they were adamant to say, in both Chinese and English, that adding hot water was a bad idea) to immerse a chemical pack below the rice tray in the box, which then started producing heat and cooking the rice bowl that I put on top of it.

It turned out pretty nice, actually, and after I was done I got to annoy the guy taking up the aisle seat by leaving my own seat to throw the box away, and then taking my own sweet time using the bathroom and filling up my water and stretching my legs a little bit before returning to my seat again for the rest of the journey. There were some guys playing a card game at some other seats near the back of the carriage, and they had amassed a small collection of onlookers too despite the conductors or security guards walking back and forth in the carriage. It was sort of neat to witness that gathering.

Before and after lunch, I spent most of my time playing Hades 2 on the Steam Deck, commandeering the single power socket in our row for most of the trip. Near the end of the trip, the window guy asked to use it, so I relinquished it to him so that he could charge his phone.

Once we reached the station, I charged out and took a picture, my occasional “first scene I see in a new town” thing.

It was 4:30 pm, and I still needed to take the nearby subway and make a transfer to get to wherever my hotel was, so I continued upon my way. I learnt that the transit card that Kel had given me was a country-wide T-Union card that works in 336 cities or something, so it (and its remaining balance) just flawlessly worked here without me having to do anything extra with it, which was fantastic.

One easy transfer later, I reached my target station, Zhenhai Road, and then passed through a few vaguely interesting looking touristy places once I reached above ground:

I then reached a certain street that I can only think to describe it as being right out of Nier: Automata, I think I’m thinking of a specific part of the game where 2B visits the Copied City and sees avenues of white houses there.

Everything was so.. white and even. I believe the name of that road is Zhongshanlu, or Zhongshan Road (or Zhongshan Street, or even Zhongshanlu Street, but the lu part of the name already means road or street so let’s not do that. It’s like calling the Kamogawa in Kyoto the Kamogawa River, when the gawa part of the name already means river.)

I stopped off for dinner at a small restaurant near the start of the street, where a barker that was a little too friendly invited me into the shop and then tried to sell me as much as possible. I just wanted noodles though:

This was actually pretty good, but I couldn’t help but compare it to Singapore’s Fried Hokkien Mee since that the Chinese name of that dish is “Fujian Noodles” and, well, I was in Fujian Province now. That dish is to Fujian as the western Singapore Noodles dish is to SIngapore though — that is to say, it borrows the name but doesn’t actually exist as a dish in the borrowed name’s original location’s cuisine. But it at least looked somewhat similar, and it wasn’t too bad, so I devoured this Xiamen Fried Noodles just fine. They also gave me some Tofu Clam Soup but that was bad and tasteless, like tofu and clams in water. I do not recommend that one.

The barker tried to sell me some beer too, which I refused, and then told me to come back tonight and he’d show me some fun stuff or something like that too. I smiled politely and walked on.

Down the centre of Zhongshan Road was some sort of fair thing with official-looking stalls.. not really a night market, as basically all of them were actually closed at night and they seemed to sell souvenirs and weird things like wine and maybe insurance instead of meat on a stick and haphazardly-squeezed fruit juice. They were celebrating the 109th anniversary or something or other, which is a weird enough number that I’m sure they celebrate this every year. The stalls were up basically every day that I was here though, and I did not see a start or end date or anything of that sort at a cursory glance. There was also a good length of the street where new cars were just parked in the middle of the pedestrian-only road, forming a separator between the two sides of the road. It looked like some sort of car display, but again I did not have the context as to what that was. There were also plenty of benches strewn around and that was quite nice.

I soon reached my hotel, which was a little hotel located a couple streets off of this above road, but was still well within the touristy shopping district.

I really dislike the difference between how this gallery applet handles horizontal and vertical image previews, yucks. Anyway, it’s an interesting hotel room — it’s fairly big, fairly comfortable, not 100% clean but decently close, and as shown by the last few images in the gallery above, contains add-on content in terms of adult products in a little box on a table that I can scan and pay for and then open if I want. It’s apparently called a Fanqi Love Box (凡奇爱盒) and the label in front Google Translates into “interesting life experience area”, heh.

Anyway this might be a love hotel of some kind, although not overtly so other than that thing. There are many things wrong with this place though, like how the pillows are squishy and overused and have holes in the covers, the table in the room is uneven, the shower door does not close properly, that black lamp hanging over the bedside drawer has no light bulb in it, there’s only one elevator and it often smells like smoke since the hotel does allow smoking, and a few other things like that, but it’s at least cheap, the shower is nice and satisfying to use, and the bed isn’t like lying on a wooden plank, so it will do for 3 nights as long as I don’t end up with a bug infestation of some kind from it. Which I’m always nervous about but I think I am safe in this one, especially since they gave me an 8th floor room out of 9 floors.

Also the TV is nice to browse through, and in particular I have found myself really liking a show called 开门大吉, or Kai Men Da Ji, which is a game show/variety show where contestants basically have to figure out the name of a Chinese song based on a 20 second bell-chime version of the song. There’s a lot of funny banter going on between the host and contestants. Once the song is guessed (or failed), a singer, sometimes the original singer of the song, sometimes another special guest, also emerges to actually sing the song itself on stage, which is also really cool.

I vegetated in the hotel room for a bit, since I already had dinner, taking my shower and then settling down to try to find a good spot to charge up my laptop in, which mostly worked. Eventually I wanted to wander out again to get some food for tomorrow morning’s breakfast though, since I had no intention of going out until the afternoon tomorrow. I wandered around to a couple nearby convenience stores, before also wandering the streets a little and taking in how Zhongshan Road looks at night. Most of the shops were closed, but not all, as some small, late-night restaurants were still open, and there were still a surprising number of people wandering around the area even at midnight.

I’d never seen a cup noodle version of that very ubiquitous Indomie Mi Goreng instant noodles. Also, I’ve seen 7-Eleven and Lawson convenience stores here, two of the big three convenience stores from Japan, and it’s interesting that it’s these two that I’ve seen so far, whereas in Taiwan it’s 7-Eleven as well as the other big store, FamilyMart, that have a bigger presence there. (Apparently FamilyMart can also be found in China though, I just haven’t happened organically upon one of their stores yet.) There’s also many other different chains of convenience stores here that likely don’t exist outside of the country, like one of them called Fook that I’ve prominently seen around the place.

There were a couple of girls dressed in rather fancy white dresses wandering around with friends still, enough of them at least to make me take note of them. There were also, conversely, a couple girls in outright pyjama tops and bottoms, the cute cartoon character based type, that wandered into the 7-Eleven that I was in to raid it for snacks. What a contrast.

I ended up buying some instant noodles and porridge for the next day, making sure that neither one required a microwave as my hotel room lacked one, as well as an ice cream wafer sandwich that got consumed as a delightfully naughty midnight snack and tasted really, really good. Mmm!

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