Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 27

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

Sunday, May 19 2024 (Day 27)

A couple of bookkeeping items. Firstly, I took a look at my return ticket from Xiamen to Guangzhou and it looks like I have an aisle seat with the letter C, which I am actually guessing is the aisle seat in the group of 3 seats in a row instead of the aisle seat in the group of 2 seats across the aisle. However, Kel thinks that the train will be a lot emptier because it’s a weekday (and a weekday night at that) train instead of a weekend one, so we shall see.

Secondly, I would like to sincerely apologize to Clifford Wonderland for calling it a dead mall/amusement park. I mean, it absolutely still is, but compared to the actual dead mall I visited today, it’s paradise on Earth. I did also do some research on the history behind that Clifford Wonderland area and it looks like it’s owned by a company or conglomerate or something called Clifford Group, and there’s a Chinese Wikipedia article on the area itself here.

Also, today will be gallery heavy because there’s a chunk in the middle that I just don’t have much to comment on, yet it was so vivid to me that I wanted to keep most of the pictures here anyway.

Lastly, room service came by just after noon again, and emptied my bins as well as replaced my towels and toothbrush again. The toothbrushes are really wasted here at this Echarm Hotel, they’re not even really disposable toothbrushes, they’re full-sized ones that come in a little sealed package with a small tude of toothpaste. Even the toothpaste could easily last 3-4 days before being thrown away by room service and replaced with a new tube. It’s very renewable-unfriendly.

In addition, my room voucher that Kel booked for me through trip.com says that it’s supposed to come with “Delightful afternoon tea (exclusive from 14:00-16:00)” amd “Silent night (“Eye*Translation Wonderful” eye mask, earplugs)”, and yes, those symbols are all part of what my email pdf receipt says. That tea sounds suspicious and definitely isn’t something I’m ever around for anyway even if it is a thing, but there’s definitely no eye mask or earplug in the room that I can see.

Also also, I forgot to mention this two days ago, but WiFi in this place is a single network that I had to connect to, and I had to pretty much guess the password for it since there were two different passwords listed, one on my room card holder and another one on the tissue box in my room. Even after doing that though, the WiFi required a visit to a webpage to activate, and while the username for that was the room number again, the password for THAT was not listed anywhere and so I had no idea if the username was correct or not since it just returned a generic error. In the end, I had to call room service for it on the first evening that I arrived, and then the receptionist on the other side of the line could not speak English at all.

I managed to explain my problem through broken Chinese anyway and she said to bring the laptop down to the reception counter so they could help me set it up. And even then, the woman that tried to put in the password for the WiFi network login page had it wrong at first, and the other woman at the reception desk who had more of a clue had to come to her aid to finally get the WiFi to connect. Once it connected it was about average, it usually was serviceable but sometimes has slow stretches that make everything lag regardless of whether I have a VPN on or not.

The pillows are also just piles of shapeless cotton. Yech. I wonder how old they are. At least I have four of them to stack up. I’ve still been furiously scanning for bugs but have seen none so far except a fly that got in on the first evening but has been missing in action since. No sign of bedbugs yet… I think.

Finally, I’m a little bit road-weary, and starting to get tired of travelling and being out on the road for so long. Though the laptop woes have definitely influenced that and so have my recent sickness (which I am completely cured of now). Unless I feel better about it, I think I’ll do Hong Kong for maybe 5 days after China, and then Singapore for a week and a bit, and then go home. Maybe Malaysia for 1-2 days in between. So if I stick to that schedule, two and a half more weeks to go.

Now for today’s actual adventure! I started the day with a nice, cute bowl of instant noodles again. This is cute, right?

It was allegedly going to start raining tonight and for the rest of the week after tonight, but I was also aware that there was also a chance that it was going to rain in the afternoon today, though the weather card turned up cloudy and overcast but rainless. Due to that threat though, my aim was to look for an indoor shopping mall to walk around in, and one that came up was the mention of a very large but dead mall and amusement park area called Mingfa Shopping Mall, owned and operated by some entity called the Mingfa Group, the same way that Clifford Wonderland was owned and operated by the Clifford Group. It looked like it was on the east side of Xiamen too, so it would give me an excuse to travel and walk a bit since I had mostly concentrated on the west side of the city thus far. It was also supposedly huge, like supposedly over 4 million square feet of space, though I expect that that counted mall levels on top of each other too.

But first, lunch. I started my adventure by walking around my local Zhongshan Road neighbourhood again, except I went a little west because I had not gone that way yet, since the metro station was to the east and south and there were a lot of roads and shops in that direction as well. West showed me an emporium or something that I didn’t enter, but whose name I really liked, Seashine Department Store:

And the walking road ended up in a wide open area and an actual north-south road called Lujiang Avenue, and part of the South China Sea where it goes into Xiamen West Port past that. There’s a resort island called Gulangyu out west too, and I almost booked a resort hotel on that island instead of here on the mainland, which would have necessitated taking a ferry every day to get onto the mainland to do stuff. It would have been interesting.

I also saw whatever this was sitting by the side of the road. A misting machine. These things basically create fake fog, no? Why would one of them be installed out by the side of the street? Or does this do something else?

I wandered into a little mall called Nanzhong Plaza by the side of the road as well. Despite Zhongshan Road being very active and popular, for some reason this mall right next to it had very few people in it.

I wasn’t going to eat at McDonalds though, so I wandered out and basically wandered around until, for the third day in a row, someone standing outside a restaurant called out to me and invited me to come in to their shop to eat. I indeed then went into that shop.

The guy behind that photobombing motorcycle helmet head was the restaurant owner, and he was very nice, I chatted with him a bit and told him where I was from and so on. From his shop menu, I ordered some black pepper beef rice, and a roasted pork glutinous pork dumpling.

He invited me to try his peanut soup as well, but I declined since I didn’t want to push the cost too high, as those two together already cost 42 yuan (about $8 CAD), and I felt that that was a little overpriced for the amount I got. The peanut soup would only have cost another 6 yuan or so, but still. He said the peanut soup was actually a local specialty though, and that the peanuts were basically boiled/cooked and then made into soup, and he made me a little bowl to try on the house even though I didn’t want to order a full bowl. That tiny bowl can be seen in the above picture as well. That was super nice of him, so I gave him one of my many remaining Edmonton postcards before I left!

On the way to the station, I saw this poor sign that had fallen over and was probably in the process of being removed.

It was what seemed to be the 109th anniversary sign that I had seen a couple of days ago.

Or was it a 19th anniversary sign? Either way I guess it was over now.

Upon reaching the station, I took an example picture of a girl in a nice white dress, one of a handful of girls in nice white dresses that I had mentioned seeing in the area over the past few days. They’re so pretty.

It’s such a thing around here that I even found a sign about it at the bottom of the stairs, in the train station proper:

Pay Attention When Wearing Long Dress. Huh. Soft Shoes, too.

Following my map app, I took the train to Lücuo Station, transferred to another train, and rode it to Lingdou Station. I almost missed it due to nodding off on the train but got off just in time. The map was leading me on some 15 minute walk from there, which seemed suspicious, but the weather was really nice and I like a nice walk anyway so I started to hoof it.

I stumbled onto this building along the way that looked like it couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a shopping mall or not:

That semi-outdoor second level there looked like a nice vantage point to take a picture from, so I went up there.

I also looked down and saw a girl in some sort of maid uniform or something interacting with a guy. I feel sure they hugged at some point, and she also posed for a picture for him at another point, both before I snuck this picture of them.

I continued walking on, passing a lot of local shops and residential areas and this group of people playing cards outside a shop:

But I was quite sure by this point that I was not headed toward where I thought I was headed — I knew the place included a ferris wheel and there was no ferris wheel anywhere in sight here, just a bunch of residential and small commercial buildings. I found out that somehow the Baidu map app had led me to some random hotel owned by the Mingfa Group instead of the mall and amusement park that I was trying to get to, and searching it again displayed a location far to the west, just a little east of the centrally-located Xiamen Railway Station that I had gone to or passed by the last two days as well.

Oops. However, plotting a route there gave raise to a new opportunity. I’d just been taking the local metro train in Xiamen so far, but Xiamen actually had a neat Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that’s a bunch of buses running along preset routes along elevated highways that are not connected to normal roads at all. Sort of like elevated train tracks, but bus roads instead. And one of these was nearby and would apparently take me to the actual Mingfa Shopping Mall 5 stops away. Cool! I walked over to the BRT station, which was located at the other end of this overhead bridge, by those two tall residential towers:

And above this nice little market:

I wasn’t sure if the 336-city transit card that Kel gave me would work on the gates, or if it worked on actual train stations only, but it did indeed work. There was also a police checkpoint with bag scanner there at the entrance to the bus station, just like there was at every train station. The train platform was thus a secured area, and looked like this, with a different waiting area for each of the four bus routes that visited that BRT station:

What interested me the most though was the two residential buildings just behind the station. In fact, they were so close, that the apartments that were level with the station and the highway could basically be looked into, and must be nightmares to live in. Why were these buildings so close to the station and elevated road?

The interior of the bus looked like this. There was no buzzer or bell or anything like that on the bus to signal a stop, presumably like a regular train it stops at every stop regardless of whether anyone is there to alight or disembark from the bus.

Anyway, I finally reached the station after five stops, and this definitely looked like the correct place from what I could see:

Mingfa Shopping Mall supposedly had a somewhat active ground floor still, while the second and third floor and the amusement park section were both mostly abandoned. From what I read, it was also in a very poor, dilapidated condition. This seemed to be accurate — these are pictures from the bottom level, which was a partially outdoor, partially indoor maze of corridors that saw the occasional motorcycle zoom by, dodging pedestrians:

There weren’t that many pedestrians and shoppers, but at least there were some. None of the escalators were working, and they were all very rusted and dirty and looked like versions of this:

The second level consisted of a lot of shuttered shops, and the third level had even more of those, though what was interesting was that the third level especially had a lot of shops that had been converted into living quarters too, many with plants outside or laundry hanging up in full view of people wandering by. Not that there were that many wandering by. The shops/living quarters were really tiny, many of them with bored people sitting in them, some stuffed with furniture or shop stock that would never be sold, or darkened restaurants that were nonetheless “open” but that never saw any customers, and several units clearly had children or pets as well. Everything was rather dirty, cramped, unhygienic, and run-down, and I wondered about the people who had been swindled into buying property here and were now stuck in their little third-storey homes until the end of their lives. How do they even earn a living if no one ever came up here? The people I saw sitting around their homes seemed desolate and bored, though maybe I’m projecting.

A gallery of pictures from my wanderings in the top two levels of this area follows, though some of the more interesting pictures ones are pulled out of the gallery for the section that immediate follows it.

Of the more interesting pictures, I watched these people tossing down rope to pull up a metal bar from the 1st level to the 3rd. I walked by them later carrying the rod somewhere or other.

Here’s a Clara jellyfish graffiti on the wall. There’s a seasonal anime about this.

It looks like this Chinese guardian lion, or shishi, urinated on the floor, doesn’t it? (and the Singlish Hokkien and Japanese (and likely also Chinese) onomatopoeic term for urinating is also shi shi/shee shee, so there’s a bad pun there somewhere.)

SOLICIT DEMON HAPPY CLUB.

One of many pets I saw around the area:

A 3rd-level view of the amusement park area, which was smaller than I expected:

And someone’s loose dog that was wandering the 3rd level and sniffing at puddles of water and drains and potted plants and other things:

I had to gingerly pass it in order to reach the escalator down.

This place was an absolute maze, with a layout that consisted of several three-storey high concentric circles connected to each other by straight passages and some central areas with tunnels that led here and there and occasionally just ended at a dead end. I came across at least 6-8 sets of escalators, 2-3 elevators, and I noticed some stairs hidden behind dirty doors too, and I only walked across maybe a quarter of the entire place. It was enormous and complex and I could not even really mentally imagine what the shape of the place must look like from above, merely from the 45 minutes or so that I spent there.

I do know that there was a “central” amusement park area though, and once I found it I descended the nearest seedy escalator and went over to it. It was like the owners had found a couple of amusement park toys at a fire sale of some kind and brought them here for random storage.

There were basically one or two families there and they basically got the rides to themselves — a park employee was unlocking the gates to a ride for a woman and her kids in the final photo above.

I came into this central amusement park area from what was probably the largest market quadrant, back from behind this archway:

There was a ring of restaurants and shops around the amusement park area too, though according to the map the amusement park area was near a corner of the Mingfa Shopping Mall area and not the very center. The Baidu map of the area looks like this:

And the Google Maps version like this:

The whole bunch of pictures I took are from the circular area in the middle, as well as occasional forays out into the side wings. The amusement park was just that little area in the southwest quadrant of the mall though, marked by the blue marker on the Google Map version.

I had had enough of flies buzzing around me by this point, and I walked out of this exit:

And past this scroll sculpture:

The bars and restaurants here were mostly deserted too, and they not only lined the passage that I took leading out to the external road, but also on the outer edge of the ring facing the road itself. There were huge numbers of tables with tablecloths on them, and plastic-wrapped plates and cups, ready for a big banquet that would never come.

My final set of pictures from this area feature some pets that I saw on the way out:

And lastly, one of the passageways on the outside leading into the facility, that I passed on the way out, that makes it look like the place was actually doing quite well at first glance.

It’s fake though, it’s all fake, and I cannot fathom just how much money and optimism was poured into this place initially.

I was not far from Xiamen Railway Station at this point, so I walked back over there, returning to the toy store from yesterday to pick up a couple more of those DIY scenes blind boxes from it for a little under $5 CAD each.

No duplicates, thankfully. I also bought a box of Xiamen tea of some sort from the supermarket there, and then had dinner there in the underground mall, opting for what was an ox hoof skin rice set meal with radishes and soup.

It still hadn’t started raining at that point, so I took the train home but stopped one stop earlier than normal, at Zhongshan Park Station instead of Zhenhai Road Station, and walked back to the hotel from there instead for a bit of a change of pace. I didn’t enter the park itself, but I took a picture of its majestic entrance:

And then a massage parlour on the way home — the older generation of Chinese really love their massages.

Most of the trees that line the roads have their bases ringed with white paint or something, I haven’t really looked into or figured out why yet, though I feel like I have seen something similar before outside of China:

I also liked the near/far contrast of the buildings in this scene:

And this guy feeding his dinner scraps to his two dogs while eating dinner on a table and stool outside his shop:

And finally another random girl wearing a nice white dress:

I also picked up some more instant noodles for tomorrow morning, but otherwise crawled back to my hotel room, never to show my face in the streets of Xiamen again. Or at least until the next morning. Checkout was at tomorrow by noon, and my train back to Guangzhou was scheduled for after 5 pm, so I had no rush at all tomorrow, but I still wanted to get my blog post done for the day before I went to bed., and managed to do so on the strength of the laptop somehow managing to stay charged for pretty much the entire day and then night due to me managing to not move or nudge the laptop, battery, or power bar cord for the entire night. And now, as the rain pours down outside, I find solace in my wormy blanket and pillows and thank the goddesses that I did not invest my life savings into a 2nd or 3rd floor shop in Mingfa Shopping Mall.

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 26

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 28

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