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"Magic Xiamen" 2008 Edition.  Newly rewritten with much more info on Xiamen sites, shopping, dining, history, business; with 100s of illustrations and B&W and color photoAmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and Fujians, many by such award-winning Fujian photographers as Zhu Qingfu, Hu Xiaogang (Babushka), and Wu Guangmin, with historical photos from Hong Buren.   Sold in Fujian bookstores or Order Online.  

In 2002, in Stuttgart,Xiamen won the gold at Livcom, the Oscar of environmental communities.  And the U.N. awarded Xiamen (former Amoy) the coveted Habitat award. Xiamen is a delightful place to live, work or study.  It also has a rich 1000+ year history, dating back to when we were part of the legendary port of Zaytun (Quanzhou), the Start of the Maritime Silk Route.  Xiamen had Quanzhou's best port, so Marco Polo probably sailed from Xiamen, not Quanzhou City proper.  In 1893, Pitcher wrote in "Fifty Years in Amoy" that Xiamen may even have been the Chinese city spoken of by Ptolemy.  That is just conjecture, of course, but without doubt, 700 years ago Amoy was one of most important ports on the planet, and in the 1840s it was one of China's first five ports opened to trade after the 1st Opium War.

Xiamen was also the birthplace of Chinese Protestantism.  On tiny Gulangyu Islet, the members of the Amoy Mission helped pioneer China's modern medicine, modern education, modern sports, modern music, modern literature, etc.  We were the home of famous writers like Lin Yutang, famous artists like Teng Hiok Chiu, and the base for the hero Koxinga, the last man to stand up against the Manchus, and the man who liberated Taiwan from the Dutch.   Click Here to read excerpts from Dutch governor Coyett's graphic, even humorous, depiction of Koxinga.

Xiamen is fascinating, but above all--a great place to live, work, or study.  Jobs are plentiful (click here to find one), and you can study Chinese and other subjects at Xiamen University and other fine schools.  Eenjoy the planet's prettiest boardwalk, or our dozens of fine gardens and parks. We have excellent dining, and shopping.  And if you get island fever, visit my Favorite Fujian Sites, all easily accessible thanks to excellent highways (my first drive to Wuyi Mountain in 1993 took 35 hours; today you can do it in only 7!).  Even the surrealistically beautifully Taimu Mountains are only five hours from Xiamen. 

When I moved to Xiamen in 1988 with my family, I had lived in over 30 places, and had no intention settling down here either, but I'm still here 20 years later.  Visit, settle down, and you too will find that Amoy is indeed magic.      Dr. Bill

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Just for fun...below are excerpts from George Smith's fascinating visit to Amoy in the early 1840s.  Read more old accounts of life in Amoy on the Amoy Mission Project pages.

Smith, George, A Narrative of an Exploratory Visit to Each of the Consular Cities of China, on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, in the Years 1844, 1845, 1846,¡± Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1857.

p. 79  Sailing from HK to Amoy The thousands of boats, which studded the sea for many miles, here began to partake of a different form, the sails being square, instead of the oblique sails farter south. The men, also, generally wore the dark turban, which marked them as belonging to the hardy and enterprising race of the Fokeen province. Some of them, however, were diligently plying their oars, destitute of clothing or every kind. ¡­.
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ON Jan. 7th, 1846, I engaged a crew of Chinese to convey me from Foochow in their boat to a vessel a few miles down the river, in which I was to embark for Amoy. The weather still continued to be very cold, the thermometer standing at about 4:5 degrees. Having the tide in our favor, we arrived in two hours off of Pagoda Island. Here, we doubled the point, a strong head-wind meeting the tide rendered our course rather dangerous, and our boat was nearly swamped. The Chinese, though the worst sailors, are the beat boatmen in the world. The experience, on former occasions, of their extraordinary cleverness in managing a boat imparted to my mind a feeling of confidence, which I could seldom, on a similar emergency, have placed in the skill of foreigners. A man at the bead of the boat watched every wave as it approached, and raised a shout, so as to give the stroke altogether .at the proper moment for avoiding the threatening mass of water. About noon I embarked on board the "Wolverine" brig-of-war, in which, through the kindness of the captain in command, I obtained a passage to Amoy. We did not weigh anchor till the following morning, when we sailed slowly down the river with the ebb-tide, another brig of war, and also a war-steamer, with the British admiral on board, keeping us company a few miles astern. Near the entrance of the narrow channel called the Kin-pai-mun, where the Min expands into the broad harbor formed by the mouth of the river and two or three adjoining islets, a sudden jerk and rolling of the vessel warned us of our having run aground, and the anchor was immediately let go. It was soon discovered that the vessel W88 suspended mid-ships on a rock, of which the charts gave no mention, in the middle of the channel. With eight or nine fathoms of water at our bow and stern we remained here for two hours, the admiral, in the mean time, passing in the steamer between us and the southern shore.. Just as the admiral had made a signal to the other brig to stand by ¡°vessel in distress," and three man-of-war's boats were rowing alongside to haul us off, the rising tide floated us aright, and we were soon again on our course. The next signal from the admiral's ship, "Proceed to Amoy," relieved us from the suspense in which the possibility of our accompanying him across to the island of Formosa had kept our minds. Soon after we came to anchor, among a fleet of junks and opium-vessels, till the next morning, when we crossed the bar, and proceeded before a fresh breeze, nine knots an hour, toward Amoy. At daybreak, on Jan. 10th, we arrived among the islands which, at the distance of about eight miles from the city of Amoy, stretch across the month of an extensive bay; formed by two projecting headlands on the coast.

The harbor enclosed within extends for several miles, being open to the sea. On the southeast, and having on the south the lofty hill or Lam-tai-boo [Nan Taiwu], situated on the mainland, and surmounted by a conspicuous pagoda. On the southwest lies an island, with another conspicuous pagoda, at the entrance of the river leading to the city of Changchew [Quanzhou], the capital of the department of that name. On the east, at a greater distance, lies the island Quemoy [Jinmen]. The island of Amoy itself fills up the north and northwest of this circular range of hills, which rival each other in the bold grandeur or their towering c1iffs and the wild sterility of their scenery. Sailing along the southern shore of the island, which is here lined with an extensive range of batteries close to the water-edge, we at length came to anchor in the lesser harbor, between the city and the opposite island of Koo-lang-soo (Gulangyu), which 1ies about half a mile distant from Amoy. After another hour I found myself domiciled among the missionaries, experiencing that hearty welcome and hospitality which I never failed to receive, both from British and American missionaries, during my visit to the consular ports of China.
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A brier relation of the part which Amoy bore in the events of the British war with China, and of the circumstances attending the arrival of the first Protestant missionaries, will be appropriate and necessary to enable the reader to form a right estimate of the present position of the mission. A more general description of Amoy will be reserved till a later period of the narrative, and will also be gathered from the journal of dai1y occurrences.

In the summer of 1840, on the sailing of the British expedition northward to Chusan, Amoy had been exempted from the desolating terror of British arms. In a later period of the same summer, the ¡°Blonde" frigate was dispatched to Amoy, to deliver to the local authorities a copy of a letter addressed by the foreign secretary of state, Lord Palmerston, to the principal officers and advisers of the Chinese emperor. The same letter had been sent also to other places in the north of China, where the native authorities, after transcribing the contents, had politely returned it to the messenger, with the haughty intimation that neither the subject nor the style was suited to the dignity of the imperial glance. At Amoy not even the semblance of civility was shown; and the mandarins refused to receive the letter, or even to hold any communication with the frigate. The interpreter, who was deputed by the commanding officer to go ashore and explain the objects of his visit, was also fired upon in the boat. This drew down a severe cannonade on the fort and city walls, which were speedily emptied of their defenders. The absence of a regular military force prevented further hostilities; and the commander contented himself with erecting on the beach a bamboo-staff; with a proclamation and the letter attached, for the information of the inhabitants; after which the "Blonde" took her departure.

In August of the following year (1841) Amoy was destined to become the scene of more destructive operations. The British squadron, on its second voyage from the south of China, appeared off the harbor on August 26th. A combined attack of the vessels of war on the batteries of Amoy and Koo-lang-soo, and the landing of a body of the troops, so as to flank the Chinese troops engaged on the sea battery, after a few hours dispersed the Chinese; and the British, advancing without further resistance, made themselves masters of the high ground on the east of the city, where they bivouacked for the night. The next morning they entered the city, which had been generally deserted by the people, and the commander-in-chief quartered himself with the troops in the palace of the principal Chinese officer, the te-tok, or admiral. Very little spoil was found in the city, which is a mere outport to more important cities in the neighborhood, and is not famous for the wealth of its traders. Numerous excesses were committed by the Indian troops; and even to the present time husbands and fathers speak, with excited feelings of indignation, of the outrages committed on their families, which disgraced that occasion. Proclamations were issued by the British commander, promising protection to the well-disposed inhabitants, and inviting them to return to the city. This was the means of partially gaining the confidence of the population, who soon reverted to their former trades and occupations, and never had reason to complain of the general treatment which they subsequently received. The main body of the force proceeded northward to Chusan.
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Three vessels of war and a military force were left to garrison the island of Koo-lang-soo, and to overawe the city of Amoy, from which the troops were immediately removed. Koo-lang-soo henceforth becoming the headquarters and residence for the British. From this time the island remained in the quiet occupation of the British, and Amoy itself was unaffected by the subsequent events of the campaign in the north. In August, 1842 (one year after its capture), Koo-lang-soo was temporarily ceded, with Chusan, to the British, by the terms of the treaty of Nanking, till the payment of the stipulated indemnity money. In the beginning of 1845 it was voluntarily ceded by the British to the Chinese, about twelve months before the stipulated time of cession; and the few British residents who remained moved over to Amoy, where they experienced no difficulty in procuring suitable houses among a friendly and respectful people.

The first Protestant missionaries to Amoy had arrived at Koo-lang-soo in the beginning of 1842, which, it is necessary to bear in mind, was a few months previous to the "treaty of perpetual peace and friendship." Two American clergymen, Rev. D. Abeel (now, it is to be feared, lingering in the last extremity of pulmonary disease in his native land) and the Rev. W. J. Boone (now bishop of the American Episcopal Church at Shanghai), commenced their missionary work, by preaching, on the first Sabbath after their arrival, in the Fokeen dialect of the district, which they bad exclusively studied at Singapore and in Java among the numerous emigrants from this part of China. Being unconnected with tbeBritish, they occasionally ventued across from Koo-lang-soo to Amoy; and although, in the excited state of the popular mind, the experiment was by no means safe, their knowledge of the dialect enabled them to remonstrate with the people on the very first appearance of danger, and to disarm the first systems of hostility. After being for a time deemed neutral, they soon were regarded even as friends, and the frequent cases of maltreatment which they were able, as gratuitous interpreters to the British commandant, to avert or remedy by their influence, soon caused the missionaries, as a body, to be viewed as peaceable, upright, and good men. Frequent cases occurreded, also, in which, as interpreters, they were able to mediate between the British and the native authorities, which secured for them, among the latter, feelings of respect, in some cases, perhaps, associated with the character of the American nation, rather than of the Christian religion. It is, however, due to those excellent men, to state, that there appear to be no grounds for suspecting them of a desire to encourage this confusion of ideas, or to sink, in the slightest degree, their distinctive character as missionaries of the cross into that of mere partisans or patriots. Their numbers were strengthened by gradual additions, both of British and American missionaries. After recent losses by death or removal, they now amounted to six in number, four of whom were Americans,and two British. At the cession of Koo-lang-soo, tbey migrated with the mercantile residents and the British consulate to Amoy, where they now reside on the edge of the water, opposite to Koo-lang-soo, having two chapels situated in streets about a quarter of a mile distant, in which divine service and preaching were regularly held.

During the first week after my arrival at Amoy, I paid frequent visits, with some or the missionaries, to the opposite island of Koo-lang-soo. After a few minutes' sailing in a boat, we landed on a long causeway of large granite slabs roughly hewn, and very slippery from the multitude of little shell-fish left on them at high-water. The island itself is about a mile in length, and the same in width at its broadest part. Partaking of the same general ruggedness of aspect, which is the almost unvarying feature of the whole coast of China, from the mountainous shores of Shantung to the rocky cliffs of Hainan, is possesses a romantic beauty or scenery peculiarly its own, in the glens and defiles which, in alternate succession, conduct the visitor among the overhanging masses of rock of every imaginable form and appearance. In some parts, little groves of banian-trees encircle a few houses; and the signs of cultivation are to be seen in the crops of wheat and rice which line the beach on its level parts. There are only two villages on the island, which are prettily situated on the seaside.

Of these, one lies on the shore opposite to Amoy; the other occupies the northern and more picturesque extremity of the island. A series of gardens, with their rich foliage, rise gracefully up the slope of a little hill, till they meet the same odd jumble of chasms and boulder stones, piled aloft or loosely scattered around; huge masses of rock forming peaks on high, and seeming to vibrate in the air, and to quiver in their nicely-balanced position. From the eminence at the extreme southern point a fine view is obtained of the outer harbor, and of the Six Islands, with the sea beyond. On this point or land a British flag-staff and battery formerly stood, commanding the approach to Amoy.
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In the center of the island the ground generally rises by a gentle acclivity, except in a few parts where the granite peaks suddenly rear their towering heads. The island of Koo-lang-soo commands the city on the opposite side, and was well selected as the quarters of the British garrison, who found too small a force to be left in occupation of the populous city itself. On the evacuation of the British, every building, and every object which served to remind them of British occupation, were destroyed or removed. The barracks, the forts, the f1ag-staffs, and even the framework of the windows and verandahs, were all speedily demolished, and the materials converted into fire-wood. The work of destruction continued till no remnants of the foreigners remained, and the houses were restored to their primitive condition. The work of purgation was vigorously persisted in. The roads were dug up, and the fields had again began to assume the appearance of cultivation. The power of superstition and the aid of heathen priests were duly invoked. Scarcely a day passed without precessions of idols, which were to be seen passing in boats through the harbor among the fleet of junks, each of which, with loudly-sounding gongs, saluted the deity as it passed under the vessel toward the island on the opposite side. The fearful mortality, which carried off so many of the British, and which was unknown previous to their occupation of the island, had continued to prevail to an alarming extent during the previous summer, notwithstanding the gradual resumption of tillage. In one family, known to the missionaries, and occupying one house, out of nine persons, seven had fallen victims to the prevailing fever. Even those who tilled the ground generally returned after the day¡¯s labor to the less insalubrious residence of Amoy to spend the night. The fears of the ignorant imputed the common calamity to the evil spirits of the English, who had been buried on the island. The superstitions of the people magnified every little event; and the villagers were to be heard expatiating on the mysterious scenes which they had witnessed, of the ghosts of barbarians running up and down the hills at night, and ¡°talking English most fearfully.¡± On the first occasion of my visit, a large platform was erected in the northern village. Close by was a temporary building, destined to be succeeded, at some future period, by a more substantial edifice. In this the idols had been duly installed, and the tutelary deities were invited back to assume their rule. Some priests of the Taou sect stood by to reconsecrate the spot, with attendants bearing cakes, fruits, and sweetmeats; while others beat drums and gongs, or played some sacred air on a wind-instrument resembling the bagpipe. A mournful chant was commenced, and they moved forward in slow and solemn procession to mount the platform, where the offering of gilt paper and the burning of incense were prolonged amid the anxious interest of the village crows. Subscriptions of money had been levied on the inhabitants of Koolang-soo and Amoy, and the afflicted people endeavored to encourage themselves in the hope that their calamities of war and pestilence were now in course of termination.
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Some European graves on the eastern beach proved the former existence of a foreign trade at Amoy. Two gravestones, with English inscriptions, bore the respective dates of 1698 and 1700. There was also a grave-stone erected to the memory of a Spaniard. In another part were buried the remains of a former Roman Catholic bishop. There are also independent grounds for believing that a considerable trade and intercourse existed in former times between the Dutch in Formosa and the Chinese at Amoy.

Indelible monuments of the recent foreign occupation remained in the crowded British cemetery, in which lay the unfortunate sufferers who fell victims to the insalubrity of the spot. This cemetery was situated at the eastern side of the island, near the landing-place, and had many elegant grave-stones, erected by the sympathy of surviving comrades. Near the northern village, screened from view by a little assemblage of trees, was situated the burial-ground of the missionaries. The unhealthiness of the climate had been severely felt by this class of the Lord¡¯s laborers, who followed in the train of earthly conquerors, to extend the bloodless conquests of their divine Savior. During the last thirteen months, out of twenty-five members of the missionary families, eighteen had been removed by various providential events. Three missionaries had permanently left, either from the failure of their own health, or of that of their families. Two wives of missionaries had set out for their native land, on account of ill health, one of whom died on the voyage; while two others had been suddenly summoned from the scenes of their missionary work to higher employment in a better world. Two children had died, and nine others had been sent to Europe or America. Six missionaries now remained, one of whom was married; so that there were in all seven laborers on the field. In this little retired spot of ground were interred the bodies of three female missionaries, Mrs. Boone, Mrs. Dotey, and Mrs. Pohlman, with the two children of the last. They left America in the vigor of youth, to consecrate their lives to the missionary work; but were cut down, one after another, by premature death, leaving their earthly p0artners to sorrow not as those who have no hope. Appropriate texts and inscriptions on the grave-stones told the confidence of the departed in that Savior in whom they had trusted, and their devotion, even in the cold embrace of death, to that work in which they had humbly sought to spend and be spent. Among all the achievements which the annals of fame or the affection of the living delight to tell of the departed dead, where is the man, who has tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, who will not concede that the most substantial glory is that which silently adorns the missionary¡¯s grave?

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CHAPTER XXVI Daily Occurrences at Amoy
Interview with the ¡°Hai-hong, Large Collection of Ancestral Tablets, Idol Shops, Friendliness of People, Missionary Services, Regular Attendants, Services for Chinese Females.

Too be continued¡­. Click Here for more old documents about Amoy  

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