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Longyan Weekend

CHINA | Tuesday, 14 October 2008 | Views [766] | Comments [5]

This weekend we drove 100kms north west of Zhangzhou to the city of Longyan. Geographically, it's quite a small city with a population of about 3 million (small for a Chinese city!) It's surrounded by mountain ranges and has two large rivers running through it called Tingjiang and Juilong.

We left Zhangzhou at 8:30am and drove along the freeway through banana plantations and lots of tunnels that are dug through hills and mountains. It was quite a pleasant drive! The freeways in the Fujian province are relatively new and they all have tolls (about $8-$10AUD), so there aren't usually too many cars on them, because a lot of people just can't afford these tolls. It's sad in a way, but at least it means these wasn't too much traffic.

When we arrived in Longyan we parked the car and made our way through the city to the Dalong English Language Center. The woman who runs the center is called Jenny and she’s absolutely lovely. She welcomed us by taking us all out for lunch with her English center's three American teaches: Amber and Will from Louisiana, and Ben from Atlanta. (Ben is my age!)

The lunch was at a pizza restaurant in the middle of the city. The food wasn’t too bad, but the company was fantastic. I had a great time talking to Amber, Will and Ben and it was interesting to hear other westerners talk about their experiences in the parts of China where few westerners travel, like Longyan and Zhangzhou.

The language barrier seems to be the biggest huddle for most. Trying to order food in restaurants or read the ingredients on packets of food in the supermarket; these things can frustrate! The other things we talked about were the beds and the public toilets, these are the two culturally differences I just cannot come to terms with. Ben, who’s been in China for 10 months, agreed whole heartily with me on these two points. I'm glad to have my annoyances verified by someone who has had time to "get used to it."

We discussed the friendly people and the delicious food and all expressed what amazing experiences we’d had on our travels so far. The three Americans were lovely, I enjoyed their company very much. Jenny, the owner of the language center was also very friendly and she even paid for everyone’s lunch which was very kind of her.

That afternoon we booked into a swish hotel near the older part of Longyan. I was very glad to have a soft(ish) bed to sleep in and a big bottle of fresh water to drink. We dumped our bags and went for a walk around Longyan. It's quite a beautiful city, with tree lined streets and many manicured gardens. We crossed a bridge over the Tingjiang river and walked through the lovely gardens on the other side. In the gardens there were lots of elderly people sleeping or sitting on rocks and when we walked by many of them looked shocked and stared at us. When this happens it becomes apparent just how few tourists (westerners or white people) visit these areas of China (Zhangzhou and Longyan). It's important to remember that they mean no harm by staring and a quick smile and wave will be all you need to make friends with anyone.

In the evening we were pick up from the Hotel by two young guys from yet another English Center, New Concept English. They took us to a garden where some of their little students were playing games with the teachers. There were about thirty children within the ages of three and twelve. They were ADORABLE. We watched them play games and then introduced our selves to them. There was much excitement from the students, many of whom have never seen a westerner. Dad sung the ABC song with them and we had our photo with them. The kids were just so cute. It really uplifted me to be around them.

After that the guys from the Language center, Jason and Justin, took us out for a lovely meal at a restaurant in the city center. We had a Thai curry, fish noodle soup, rice and veggies, meats, beer, Chinese tea...it was a lovely meal. Jason and Justin were so amazing; every time you finished a glass (shot glass) of beer or tea, they would quickly jump up and pour you another one. To them, you are their guests and they want to look after you as best they can. I find that kind of attitude very endearing, although they made me feel guilty because they paid for everything! They really wouldn't want to have it any other way though.

On Sunday Jenny took June, Dad and my self to some hot springs located on the outskirts of town. When June mentioned "hot springs" I had outdoor springs embedded into the side of mountainous rocks in my mind....however, these "springs" were much like swimming centers you get in Australia. An indoor swimming, spa and sauna area. Although, apparently the water IS pumped up from the ground and is real hot spring water. It wasn't what I was expecting, so I was slightly disappointed, especially since the experience was about a Chinese as crossing the Harbor Bridge! ;) It was alright though, I relaxed by the side of the pool and laughed at the sign "Do not GOB anywhere" that I found in the main swimming area. Hehehe.

For lunch Jenny took us to the most amazing restaurant that I've been to so far in China. The food was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! It might have just been because I was extra hungry, but even the rice tasted incredible. They had the most delicious fish noodle soup and shredded lamb and veggies. It was absolutely delicious.

Our next stop was The Lotus Temple, a Buddhist temple located at the foothills of the mountains and right next to the city. Within it's walls there were beautifully carved stone pylons and wooden caved windows. It was beautiful there. We didn't see many monks, but we saw many old women praying to statues of Buddha or other enlightened beings and waving around handfuls of incense.

I really enjoyed Longyan and we're going back there next weekend, so hopefully we'll get to see more of it. I also hope to see the three American teachers again. :D

View of the bridge over the Tingjiang River. Longyan is a beautiful city with lots of gardens and tree lined streets.

View of the bridge over the Tingjiang River. Longyan is a beautiful city with lots of gardens and tree lined streets.



Thanks for another descriptive report; it feels like we are sharing your adventures with you!

  From both of us Oct 14, 2008 6:32 PM


Just sent you guys an email, I hope you get it!! xo

  mazystar Oct 14, 2008 8:15 PM


your entries are so interesting! and you want to keep reading and reading.

"Do not GOB anywhere" LOL wtf

sounds like food is very important over there, with long meals, taking your time and enjoying it. rather than having to eat in a rush because you've got somewhere to go, things to do. (well I guess that's the difference between holidaying and normal life :P)

  jen Oct 16, 2008 3:40 PM


Thanks so much for saying that hun, I appreciate the feedback very much. :)

Yeah food seems to be very important here, but everything is eaten in such tiny bowls and plates and the drinks drunk in tiny shot glasses! You look like a pig going back for so many helpings! Hehe.

  mazystar Oct 16, 2008 3:52 PM


Hey, I hope you see this and get a chance to respond.
My name is Jake, I am from Australia and recently I took up a teaching post at the No. 1 middle school of Longyan. I was hoping you might remember the name of the pizza resteraunt in Longyan. I haven't been able to find it, and trust me, I've looked.
Also, I'd be interested in the hot springs if you can remember where they are too!
Anyway, that's all, thanks!

  Jake Oct 5, 2012 5:40 PM

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