29 February 2012

China Tour ~ Xiamen Old Town

In the midst of modern Xiamen is the old quarter, a maze of old style Chinese markets and tiny streets. We haven't been anywhere that felt so exotic in years. With China's liking for development, we're not sure how long this place will be around, hopefully forever. But we took a bucket of photos just in case...

Xiamen's old quarter gets a little bit crowded.

Muslim bread makers, from the north of China we assume.

Bread is cooked fresh on the spot in a tandoor type oven.

Fresh out of the oven this bread is mind-blowingly good.

Beer and culture in the same joint, we're sold.

The entrance to a street full of hawker stalls. The dude who ran our hostel told us this street has been redeveloped for health reasons, but it's still fantastic.

Now this is an eat street!

Stuff on stick stall.

Waffle maker, $10 says these have red bean paste in the middle.

Corn fritter on sticks possibly, deep fried definitely.

Tea sorting. There was a sorting ritual that occurred with the tea vendors, they could sit around and chat while they picked out the best leaves.

Mystery brown things.

Sugar coated sweet bread cooking like a giant crepe or pancake.

We bought a slice, fresh off the hot plate, it was incredible.

We see crusty crabs but where's Spongebob?

Rice cakes, possibly like the Korean style of rice cake with chili sauce.

Random restaurant along the food street.

Pretty dim sum.

Loads of seafood, some of the same style of mantis prawns we had in Shanghai.

Sausages made fresh on the spot.

We believe that's a George Foreman sausage cooking machine.

Sausage on a stick. Shawn generally hates Chinese sausage but these Taiwanese style ones are just minutes old and incredible.

Melted cheese on a deep fried mystery thing, mmmmm....

Ladies' man.

More purdy dim sum. These ones look like they were created by Willy Wonka.

There's a whole street full of fresh food but for some reason we have to go to the dirtiest restaurant on the street, the one selling unrefridgerated Chinese oysters. Common sense tells us that we shouldn't eat oysters in uber industrial Southern China, but common sense is a big girl's blouse.

How could we resist this?

Food poisoning schmoizoning.

Our view of the restaurant while waiting for our seafood to be cooked on the BBQ. It's not the cleanest but we're still here. To avoid doing washing up the plates are covered in plastic bags. Remove bag, clean plate. Yet to catch on in Australia.

Huiquan beer - there's a different beer for every day of the week in these parts. The plastic glasses beer is served in are the flimsiest ever made, they barely hold the beer in without it squishing all over the place.

Love the kitty wall holder thingy.

Our lunch of freshly BBQ'd goodies including oysters, clams, mussels, pippies and some kind of conch shells. We finish these off and wait for the projectile vomiting to begin, but all was fine, woohoo! We celebrate with oysters again the following night.

And on the first day of my summer vacation I hung out in front of the drug store.

Corn vendor on the move.

Street vendor action.

The laneways in the market were endless. Each street had stalls, restos and endless shops with cheap plastic goods for the local market.

There were many sellers from different parts of China and each group seemed to sell exactly the same thing. This group specialised in bone combs, horns and jewellery.

This could have been a killer shot if those heads weren't in the way. Sometimes you've only a split second and one chance...

People live right in the middle of these busy back streets. Getting in and out must be an adventure each day, but at least you are always close to the action.

Cool alleys of the old quarter.

Fruit ladies. We saw many that seemed to just have one basket of goods to sell, trying their luck with whatever they had.

Beautiful old egg shop. So many different types of eggs,

Those guys are looking a bit ropey at the end of the day...

Sausage fest.

Egg tarts.

Open wide...

The David Jones fresh food hall... A whole street of meat and seafood undercover.

Ye olde world.

Electric pants.

Fishballs ain't fishballs.

Street vendors.

Seafood vendors on the street.

To our untrained eyes this looks like some kind of deadly stonefish...

Tops dude helping dad with his frogs.

Hard day at the fish shop.


Butcher lady.

Black and white chickens together in harmony, though slightly dead.

This chicken truck barged it's way up a jam-packed pedestrian street. Then they unloaded by throwing the bags of live chicken. We're stuck downwind behind the truck and chicken debris is flying everywhere, feathers, poo and god knows what. There had been bird flu breakouts in China in recent days so we freak out along with the locals, we cover our mouths and get the hell out of there.

Outdoor deli - is that Chinese devon at the front?

Havin a shuckin good time.

More happy oyster sellers.

Veggie stall.

Seafood lady.


Meat lady.

Meat lady.

This mobile egg seller had a loud speaker to attract attention, except it made a cow noise instead of a chicken noise. Perhaps in China chickens say 'moo'.

Tops lady shopper.

The lane leading up to our hostel, no wonder we couldn't find it.

The old quarter at night, markets are still going, though winding down.

Chicken George.

Ducks hatching an escape plan.

Street vendors doing overtime.

Cleanup time.

Bunning's Warehouse.

The lane just near our hostel. Bedtime.

We love China.


  1. Beer and culture and Cate? Blanchett?

  2. awesome! i want to go to there!

  3. What a great area...I love little laneways like this, but oh so many people!

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  5. Ahhhh! I am homesick! This is my favourite part of Xiamen...and of any Chinese city. The rest is boring. For years I ate in this area and the food and atmosphere is fantastic. Go there because soon it will be no more, bulldozed and sterile high rises buildings with chain stores will take its place.I hope to get back there soon before it is all gone.

  6. Great post! That part with the big gate and the writing 台湾小吃街 means "Taiwan Little Eats Street" and all the food there is almost exact copy of what you see on Taiwan's streets and night markets. Not sure, if it tastes the same as here in Taiwan, though.

    I'm based in Taipei and love to go on night markets and get a dose of xiao chi (小吃) or little eats. If you ever make it here, you can check my list of night markets I've visited so far:

    List of Night Markets in Taiwan

    I've visited 50 night markets all over Taiwan so far and I've been all over Asia, but I've nowhere found as much street food as here. And it's very tasty. You have to come here, if you haven't yet - this is street food's paradise :)

    1. This is fabulous! We are going to Taiwan next year in March and this has really got me hungry. Can't wait.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).