6 Things I Learned From My Independent Travel

On my last day in Xiamen, I reflect back on the entire trip and the lessons I’ve learned along the way!

Friday, November 7th, 6:28pm

Well, the last day of my independent travel is here! Long story short, I spent the morning in a cafe, made my way over to the ferry, and then got a little lost, but I’m now safely at the airport ready to catch my flight back to Shanghai.

Since this was my first time traveling solo, everything was new, I only knew that I was doing half the time, and lots of things didn’t quite turn out the way I thought they were going to. Xiamen tested the limits of my ability to problem solve (in Chinese), and I definitely learned a lot from the experience. So in no particular order, here are the 6 life lessons I picked up while traveling solo.  Continue reading “6 Things I Learned From My Independent Travel”


Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 7

I spend the last full day of my trip exploring Gulangyu! I hit famous attractions like Sunlight Rock, Shuzhuang Garden, and Haoyue Park. For dinner, I enjoy snack foods on Longtou Road!

Thursday, November 6th, 11:38pm

I spent the entire day exploring Gulangyu, and I don’t have a lot of energy left. A pedestrian-only island is cool in theory, but I definitely started to miss vehicles with wheels by mid-afternoon.

Sunlight Rock

This morning, I didn’t really have a set plan or anywhere in particular where I wanted to go, so I headed to Sunlight Rock, thinking that it’d make for a good starting point. When I made it to Sunlight Rock, I had to buy an entrance ticket, and I actually ended up purchasing a pass for all of the famous Gulangyu attractions for 100 RMB. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 7”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 6

I enjoy a low-key Wednesday and spend the afternoon singing karaoke! Then I hop on a ferry over to the pedestrian island of Gulang. No cars, bicycles, or motorcycles allowed!

Wednesday, November 5th, 11:35pm

Happy Wednesday to me! By 12:00pm, I’d said goodbye my dark hotel room (which was fine at first, but after five nights I was ready to move on) and was on my way to karaoke.

Xiamen KTV

If you’ve been following along since my summer in Hainan, you’ll know that I absolutely adore going to KTVs by myself. It’s like singing in the shower times fifty. I have so much fun being silly and trying out songs that I’d never perform in front of other people.

The KTV took a while to open, and I waited for so long that I started to doubt whether singing karaoke was worth all the trouble. Just as I was about to give up, the KTV came to life and I got a huge room all to myself for 44 RMB, which I considered a great price. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 6”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 5

On day four in Xiamen, I take an afternoon trip to the Botanical Gardens, then head over to the beach to watch the sun set!

Tuesday, November 4th, 11:38pm

Tuesday in Xiamen dawned bright and clear. Not that I could tell, what with the no windows thing. Oi. I’m definitely ready to switch hotels.

I think I’ve been hit with a bout of travel fatigue. I was not in the best of moods today, and for whatever reason, I’ve been really out of sorts over the littlest things. But another one of the perks of traveling alone is that no one has to put up with me and my mood swings. Yay?

The Botanical Gardens


I woke up late around 11:00am, and hopped in a taxi for the Botanical Gardens. The gardens themselves were beautiful: lots of shady trees, bright flowers, and pretty walking paths. The botanical garden was so huge that I had to skip over some of the attractions since I hadn’t worn my sneakers and my poor feet could only take so much. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 5”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 4

I take it a bit easier on Monday and explore South Putou Temple. I climb up to the top of a huge hill overlooking the Xiamen to get a beautiful view of the city and the sea, and then I blog from a cafe off Zhongshan Road!

Monday, November 3rd, 6:11pm

Whew. I am tired. And it’s only 6:00pm! What is wrong with me? Are twenty-year-olds supposed to want to go to bed at 8:00pm? I don’t even know why I’m so exhausted; I didn’t really do all that much today! But anyway, onto my recap of the afternoon!

South Putou Temple

When left the hotel around 11:00am this morning, I hopped on a bus heading to South Putou Temple. I had originally planned to hit both the botanical garden and the temple in one day, but my plans are constantly changing, and nothing ever ends up quite like I expect it to. Ah. The beauty of solo traveling.

IMG_5581 While the temple itself was pretty, I quickly realized that it was a tourist trap. (I was tipped off by the souvenir shops where the prayer wheels should be.) After spending a week in Qinghai, the temple did not impress me, but then again, I wasn’t expecting it to. I hadn’t come to South Putou Temple for the Buddhist culture; I was there for the hill overlooking the city. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 4”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 3

On my second day in Xiamen, I wander around the Railroad Culture Park and I finally make it to the beach! I rent a bike and ride around all afternoon, which ends in a crash! I also grab dinner at Zeng Cuo An!

Sunday, November 2nd, 11:28pm

Day two in Xiamen is all wrapped up, and I’m exhausted. Happy, content, but exhausted. Let’s start from the beginning!

Railroad Culture Park

I woke up this morning at 9:30am, hoping to catch the tail end of breakfast since I hadn’t eaten any dinner last night. Nope. The free breakfast ends at 9:00am, which means I’ll just have to get up earlier tomorrow!

My meal schedule has been really weird in Xiamen. I never want to spend any more money than I have to, but for some strange reason, I find myself unable to resist buying fancy coffees. So instead of eating full meals, I have very small meals and lots of sugary drinks. Healthy, right?

Anyway, unlike yesterday morning when I sort of wandered around without a plan, I knew exactly where I wanted to go today and how to get there. I walked briskly to the bus stop and picked up a really delicious bun from a bakery for breakfast. While I munched happily on my bread, I was able to catch the bus and in two short stops, I found myself at the Railroad Culture Park. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 3”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 2

On my first full day in Xiamen, I explore Zhongshan Road, wander through Xiamen University’s campus (and Graffiti Art Tunnel), and sip a mocha on Coffee Street! A wonderfully relaxing Saturday!

Saturday, November 1st, 11:29pm

Well, my first day in Xiamen is officially coming to a close, and still no serial killers in sight. All’s well here, and I’m totally loving the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want. I can sleep in as late as I like, I can choose how long I stay at certain places, and I don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s so liberating! Anyway, onto what actually happened today.

Zhongshan Road

The one real drawback of a hotel room with no windows is that I can’t tell when it’s morning outside. Since I’d stayed up late last night reading, I slept in until 11:00am and totally missed the free breakfast. Thinking I’d go out, explore a bit, and grab something to eat, I left the hotel in search of Zhongshan Road (the pedestrian-only street that was said to have great snack foods).

After taking a wrong turn and having to retrace my steps, I eventually ended up in the right place and was a little disappointed with what I found. There were way more clothing stores than I expected and far fewer snack shops. It was kind of like the East Nanjing Road of Xiamen. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 2”

Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 1

My very first solo trip is to Xiamen, a beautiful city by the sea in Fujian province! I experience travel jitters as I make my way over to the airport, arrive in Xiamen late at night, find a taxi, and settle into my hotel. New adventures, here I come!

Saturday, November 1st, 1:18am

This Halloween, I wasn’t able to dress up in a costume and eat lots of candy. Instead, I headed to Xiamen, a city on the eastern coast of China just south of Shanghai. November 1st through November 7th is the Alliance’s independent travel week, meaning I have a grand total of nine days to explore wherever I want with no classes to worry about!

All of the Alliance students in the 21st Century City program and Intensive Language program are off traveling in different parts of Eastern Asia. Because I’ve always wanted to try out traveling solo, I decided that this week would be the perfect opportunity to finally take the plunge! (I really took the “independent” part of independent travel literally.)

It is officially 1:18am, I’m safe and sound in my hotel room with no serial killers in sight, and I haven’t managed to get completely lost. I think I’m doing pretty well so far! But let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading “Xiamen Independent Travel: Part 1”