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Xiamen(Amoy)

Xiamen, known in the native Fuilan (Fukien) dialect as Amoy, is the island located on the coast of Southeast China. To the west lies the mainland; to the east the Taiwan straits and the province of Taiwan. The climate here is subtropically warm the year round. The shape of the island was thought by some to resemble a flying egret and was in fact, hundreds of years ago, an uninhabited island nesting site for these birds. Folk tales recount battles between the egrets and the poisonous snakes for dominance over the island. So strong is the identification of the bird Egret. By the end of the Mind dynasty in the 17th century, Xiamen was the base of General Zheng Chenggong. Loyal to the Ming, he supervised the training of the navy here and fought against wan. Today a park is named in his memory. The end of the Opium War in 1842 brought foreign settle- pores open to the West. The foreign presence produced a number of new businesses, restaurants, bars, opium dens, brothels and the like. The economy of Xiamen itself, however, remained extremely poor with few crops and manufacturing of only a limited number of products. After the founding of the People’s Republic the situation was remedied. A stone causeway five kin. long was built to link the island to the mainland and a highway and railway now serve needs of the growing industrial city. The port welcomes steamers from all over the world. The island still remains a tourist resort; the sea and the mountains offering the visitor the delights of nature.

To the southwest of Xiamen the flowers blossom all year round in the Garden on the Sea, Gulangyu Island. Longtou Hill (Dragon’s Hill) rises to face Hutou Hill (Tiger Head) across the channel on Xiamen. From the top of Longtou Hill the island is a sea of green trees and red-tiled roofs. Houses and streets are built on the slope in tiers. On the crest of the Hill is the Rock of Sunshine. A forest of stone tablets inscribed in calligraphy lines the path to it. On the top of the Rock is a platform seven meters square. From this rostrum Zheng Chenggong oversaw the training of his troops. Just below is a cave with stones and rocks of fantastic shapes. Winds whirl through the cave and sound like the ocean’s raring waves. The coolness of the air here give it its name. The Summer Resort Cave. Descend the Hill to visit Shuzhuang Garden, its old banyan trees providing shaded paths from luxuriant arbor to charming pavilion, flowers of marvelous variety brightening the way. Emerge from Shuzhuang Garden and follow the winding path to the seaside and the soft sands of a 300-meter-long beach.

The people of Gulangyu have a special love of music. In the evening the air is filled with the music of voices and instruments. Song festivals and concerts are frequent events and the talents of Gulangyu’s artists are widely known.

Jimei(Center of Beauty)is a university town on a tiny peninsula nearby. This is a special center of education because it was developed by an overseas Chinese,Chert Jiageng, so that his fellow compatriots throughout Southeast Asia could come home to study and to enjoy their common heritage. The Southern Pudu Temple Was built well over a thousand years ago at the foothills of Wulao Peak. Adorning the roof and caves of the main hall are flying dragons and human figures and flowers. Statues of Bodhisattvas, individual in expression and posture, with delicately caved features people the hall. The Hall of Compassion stands eight meters high. This octagonal wooden structures has three tiered roof upon which sit flying Dragons, their tails waving in the sky. Two venerable Sago Cycads, over a thousand years old, are rooted in huge urns. Towering rock formations flank the Bell Tower.

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