Fuzhou

Fuzhou (福州; Fúzhōu) is the capital of Fujian Province in China. An older romanisation is "Foochow". Population is about 4.4 million in the city, 7.1 million for the whole prefecture.

Understand

Fuzhou is an old port city and has been an administrative center since the Qin Dynasty; the traditional date for its founding is 202 BC. Marco Polo visited it around 1290. In the era of tea clippers, Fuzhou exported more tea than any other Chinese port. Much of the best tea came from Wuyi Mountain area, up the river from Fuzhou.

Today, it is the provincial capital and administrative center, and also a major center for light industry. Nike has a factory there, and a Taiwanese firm that makes shoes for Adidas, Reebok and others has four. All are large factories, with several thousand employees each. Fuzhou is right across the straits from Taipei, and there is fairly heavy Taiwan investment.

The city is on the Min River, a few km inland from the sea, and the actual port is in the downstream suburb Mawei which has been a center for shipbuilding for several hundred years. In 1884, the French destroyed a dockyard at Mawei, sinking a good part of the Chinese navy and killing hundreds. There is a museum to commemorate this. For a more general view of Fujian's seafaring history, visit the Maritime Museum in Quanzhou.

There are many mountains and waterfalls in the hinterland around Fuzhou, while sandy beaches are abundant in the coastal areas, especially in the town of Changle and the island of Pingtan.

The Fuzhou region has its own language, called Fuzhou Hua (Fuzhou speech) or Mindong (Eastern Min, where "min" is another name for Fujian). The region also has its own culture and an architectural style distinct from other regions in China and Fujian, which can be found both in the city and in the towns and rural areas around it. The city has the oldest wood structure in South China (Hualin Temple) and has one of the largest historic downtown districts in China "Three Lanes and Seven Alleys" with over 200 residences from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Fuzhou, and more generally Fujian, has always been outward-looking and some people in more-or-less every overseas Chinese community in the world can trace their ancestry to the area. There is also an enclave of Fuzhou people in Shanghai.

In recent decades, most of the illegal Chinese immigrants smuggled to Western countries and to Japan and Taiwan have come from the Fuzhou region, with Changle, Fuqing and various more rural areas as the main sources. The trade is largely controlled by the region's "snakehead" gangs who are not at all nice people. In 2003, the Taiwan coast guard intercepted a boatload of young women presumably bound for Tapei's brothels; the crew threw them overboard to get rid of the evidence and several died.

Get in

By plane

Fuzhou has air links to most other major Chinese cities plus flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka and Taipei.

The airport is an hour from town in the suburb of Changle, ¥20 by bus. You can get the bus at the Apollo Hotel. Shared taxis also go from there, at around ¥25 a person. A private taxi would be at least ¥100, likely more unless you haggle very well. There are complimentary shuttles from other hotels, such as the Min Jiang, to the Apollo.

By bus

Direct overnight buses to/from Shanghai (12h, ¥240), Hong Kong, Shenzhen (12h, ¥280) or Guangzhou(12h, ¥258) exist, with sleeping bunks. ¥220-350, it is usually worth the extra for comfort. Buses from Xiamen (¥85, 3.5h).

By train

The main Fuzhou train station is in the northeast of the city. You can reach it via #5 or #22 city busses, or it is cheap and quick by taxi from anywhere in central Fuzhou. There is also a new Fuzhou South station, located rather inconveniently. A taxi to it will be ¥50 or so from downtown and take about half an hour. The K2 bus runs between the two stations; the cheapest way to the South station if you have time is to go to the main station and take that bus from the parking lot off to your left as you face the station entrance.

A new fast train between Xiamen and Fuzhou is available, leaving from the main Fuzhou station almost hourly, for ¥85 one way. There are also trains from the south station. This line now extends south to Shantou and Shenzhen.

There are also fast trains to Shanghai via various towns in Northern Fujian, Wenzhou, Ningbo, and Hangzhou. Around 6 hours, ¥262 for second class, 330 for first. Most of these leave from the South station.

Get around

There are five official districts.

By taxi

Taxis are cheap, ¥10+ for short trips and under ¥30 for almost any trip in town. Taxi rates are ¥10 for the first 3 km, and then ¥1.4 per km and one more after 11PM. Since 2010 additional ¥1 fuel charge is added to taxi fare. Taxis are more available in the downtown area, and are often hard to get outside there.

By bus

Buses are often crowded, but run often and more-or-less everywhere for ¥1. Most are air conditioned. If the bus you require is packed just wait until the next one, or the one after, it should only take 5–10 minutes, being stuck on a dangerously overloaded bus with several dozen/hundred people sweating all over you is an experience best avoided, especially in the summer months. However, you should be aware that bus service stops at 10pm, so the last buses are often very crowded and sometimes you cannot get one. Taxis and enterprising drivers will offer group rides from crowded bus stops to other parts of town, usually for ¥15.

Talk

Fuzhou and the surrounding area have a local language called Mindong (literally Fujian East) or Fuzhou Hua (Fuzhou speech). This is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin (standard Chinese) or any other Chinese dialect, not even other Min (Fujian) dialects.

As everywhere in China, Mandarin or standard Chinese is widely spoken. It has been the only language used in government and education for decades and acts as the lingua franca for Chinese from different regions to communicate. Fuzhou, like any prosperous coastal city, has many migrants from poorer provinces who have come seeking work; nearly all of them speak Mandarin but not Fuzhou Hua.

See

Three Lanes & Seven Alleys
Hualin Temple

Do

Buy

The most famous handicrafts of the area are:

There are also carvings in wood and jade, paper umbrellas and combs made of ox horn.

You may be offered ivory. Most nations have banned ivory to protect endangered species; do not buy it unless you are certain it is fake. In China, this is quite likely, but it is hard to be certain and it might be harder yet to convince customs officials if you try to bring it home.

Eat

Local specialties include:

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

  Restaurants near the white pagoda (behind Grand Ocean Mall) (on a pedestrian-only side street running west off Baiqi Lu, a bit north of Gutian Lu). More than a dozen restaurants, mostly upmarket.

Drink

Sleep

Budget

There are a number of cheap hotels around the railway station.

Mid-range

Splurge

There are some nice hotels in Fuzhou:

Connect

The area code for Fuzhou is 591.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, December 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.