A gweilo in 1980s China – Chapter 20

china mountains

Written by Tai Pan

If you haven’t had yet the chance to read the previous chapters, I suggest you do so by going to the ‘Story of my Life’ section and start from part 1.


After coming back from Dalian, I stayed in Beijing for one night and then I flew back to Italy.

Once again I was quite sad to leave China, and at the same time I was also happy to return to Italy. In short, as you may have guessed, I was confused! I felt like this last trip made me more mature than I was, and gave me more self-confidence.

I return to Italy at the beginning of October in 1983, and not too long after my returned, I actually left again! In early March 1984 I was already back in China.

china amazing 2

This time, following the advice of another businessman working in China, I went to the province of southern Fujian, a region of the PRC located in the south, facing Taiwan.

fujian cartina

Even thou the person that advised me to go to Fujian was a very experienced textile exporter, he actually sent me to the wrong area as I discovered that region was mainly specialized in embroidery for towels and sheets, not for clothing.

I shouldn’t have listed to that man’s recommendations without checking the place first!

Anyway, I found myself in Fuzhou, capital city of the province of Fujian, speaking with the officials from the local textile factories, who then explained to me that the situation there was not exactly what I thought…

Nevertheless the mistake I made turned out to be an enjoyable and pleasant one! Indeed, before going back to Shanghai, I spent 4 days in Fujian, during which, thanks to the hospitality and kindness of the local officials, and despite the fact that I didn’t conclude any deals with them; I was able to visit the beautiful areas in Fujian.

china sunset

I visited the district of Xiamen, south of Fuzhou, where I found an incredibly beautiful island that was located not too far from the coast, called Gulangyu.

gulangyu island 1gulangyu island 3OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgulangyu xiamengulangyu island 4 ingrandire

The smell of the sea, the detailed decorations carved on the walls of local houses, the tropical forest, and the small island. All that filled up my eyes for days and made me feel completely in peace with the world.

gulangyu island 6gulangyu island 2gulangyu island 5

During those days there was still no Internet or cell phones, so the only way possible to communicate with people was through telex, especially because calling overseas was extremely expensive!

This isolation from the rest of the world allowed me to live four days, not as a business man, but as a special tourist: I was, indeed, one of the few gweilos that in those years was let into mainland China!

taining county 2 china.org.cn

During my stay in Fujian I also discovered the Tulou, a strange house where people would live in groups.

It was very practical as it was like a protected fortress against outside dangers.

fujian tulou 3fujian tulou 4fujian Tulou_1fujian tulou hakka

Looking at the inside of this ‘strange’ house, I noticed that it was just like a condominium. However, from the outside, the Tulou – without exaggerating – looked like an alien spaceship!

fujian tulou easytourchina.wordpress.comfujian tulou hakka houses 1fujian tulou hakka-houses_2

When in Fujian, I also visited the area of Sanming and Taining. While I was being giving a tour of those place I found myself in an absolutely unique world!

taining county china.org.cntaining county fujian.chinadaily.com.cntaining county tripadvisor.comQishan-Mountain-In-Fuzhou-Fujian-Province-of-China-1600x2133

The Wuji Mountain, seemed like a giant sculpture.

wuyi montain shan taoist & buddist centrewuyi mountain 3wuyi mountain fujian 1temple mountainside-fujian-province- 123rf.com

And then the wonderful Taoist and Buddhist temples, looked like living paintings!

dajin-lake-02danjin lake-sanming-fujiandanjin lake-sanming-fujian 2

That whole area of Taining was incredibly magical. As a matter of fact, I had never had in my life a similar experience to that in Fujian.

It is actually kind of funny to think that I travelled all the way there to make some serious business negotiations, and that trip turned into a special and unique vacation. I was totally immersed in the Chinese culture, away from everything and everyone, just with the company of myself and own my senses, which were constantly revived by colours, smells and images that were surrounding me!

wuyi mountain fujian 2

Unfortunately it was time to go back to Shanghai, and so I said goodbye and thanked the kind government officials that escorted me for the four days I was there and then I left.

When I returned to Italy I brought back with me a lot of local products made in Fujian to sell in Naples, as I knew that I would have never had the opportunity to go back to that beautiful area, since it was located outside the designated areas that I would go to for my business negotiations.

a fujian little monk

So I left that wonderful and magical place to go back to the chaotic Shanghai, which I will tell you about in the next coming chapter.

(All photos are from Google.com, and they all belong to their original owners)

Leave a Reply