It was on an afternoon during the Spring Festival that I left Fuzhou for Quanzhou, and the street there was bustling with activities. In the city centre, our bus was even stuck in traffic jams, and it was at that moment that I had the time to enjoy legendary arcade buildings, and started my magic journey to this uniquely charming city near Xiamen.
In Quanzhou, West Street is no doubt the first stop to experience local life. We walked all the way from East Street to West Street, and the bustle here was just like what I experienced at Grandma's when I was a child. Grocery stores, food shops and old book stores recalled me of my past summer vacation when I read comics with my sisters in the little book store at the old street.
East Street and West Street are demarcated by the Bell Tower, which is a true tower of bell!
Scenes during day and night.
Located in the central area of Quanzhou, East Street and West Street are the best place to enjoy delicious Zongzi. Personally, I like freshly made Zongzi of Grandma Hou, and Quanzhou Zongzi goes well with special sauce.
At the West Street, you can also visit the well-preserved Kaiyuan Temple at a good price. Kaiyuan Temple is the place where Master Hong Yi spent years for spiritual practice, and the memorial hall here provides detailed biography of the Master. The last time I visited the memorial hall of Master Hong Yi was in Lingyin Temple, and it seemed that I had further understanding of him this time.
One of Twin Towers in Kaiyuan Temple
A store selling postcards
Relics of the Tang Dynasty
Our No.1 goal at the West Street was to discover delicious food!
This is a typical arcade building, a feature of Quanzhou. Arcade buildings are originated from Greek temples, and were introduced from Nanyang (an old name for the Malay Archipelago). They are common in many cities in south China, for example, Haikou.
Quanzhou also boasts various Southern Fujian buildings, mostly red-brick houses with high-inclined ridge.
Quanzhou is legendary because it is a city where different cultures meet. In Quanzhou, you can see traditional Chinese architectures, buildings which combine Chinese and western style, and temples of all kinds.
Huaqiao Residential Area with five blocks of villas is a prime example of buildings which combine Chinese and western style. Some villas are way beyond luxury, and even a bonsai in the courtyard is highly valued. Though it is kind of pussy to peep at their courtyard, we just cannot stop our affection for this place filled with bourgeois sentiments.
Courtyard of a coffee shop
Beimen Street, a street of Quanzhou style
As the cradle of China's Maritime Silk Road, Quanzhou has attracted different religious cultures.
It was on the fifth day of the Chinese Lunar New Year that we visited Guandi Temple which was packed. It is said the temple is always crowded. We didn't squeeze into the crowd as it was really awful.
Crowds outside the temple.
Traditional practice of blessings
Quanzhou Live Show Wonderland, a factory-transformed street of restaurants and bars. Modern and appealing!
We love Misua most among foods of Quanzhou. The best Misua store is opened at the East Street, but we found it unnecessary to go that far. During our stay in Quanzhou, we had Misua several times in a store not far away from our hotel, and it was said that vinegar meat and Youtiao (fried bread stick) are the most traditional ingredients of Misua. However, it was a pity that Youtiao was not supplied during the Spring Festival. The store is called A'ci Misua.
Caishen (God of Wealth in China) Beef that opens opposite to Guandi Temple is very popular and their beef indeed tastes good
This is Mung bean pastries bought in a shop beside Tianhou Temple. Pastries are freshly made and wrapped. Yummy!
Siguo Soup (dessert), delicious!
Savoury Rice (salty) + Fish Ball Soup
Stewed pork bought at the West Street
As many shops were closed during the festival, we missed some must-try food, like soup dumplings and tangyuan (also called yuanxiao in Quanzhou).
Due to trip arrangement, we missed some other interesting places, like Qingyuan Mountain. Hope that we can visit these places next time.
One thing that I don't like in Quanzhou is that taxies at night don't charge against meter, and even price out of the market.
Southern Min dialect, a common language in Quanzhou, is not easy to comprehend. For example, it took us great efforts to understand the mandarin mixed with Southern Min dialect of a man who we asked for bus information.
Quanzhou is a city without many commercial elements. Just do as the Romans do, and you will enjoy local life and feel unique charm of the city.