News and events

About me

Biography, background, press, and tidbits both musical and nonmusical

My musicals

Five shows I've written, including one that ran Off-Broadway in 2006 and one currently in development

The Chagall Suite

A commissioned 8-movement piano piece inspired by Marc Chagall's artworks, and a tribute to Chagall and Elvis


Hear my music on this site and buy my recordings

Musical direction

See my ideas regarding musical direction, see my resume, or let me coach you for auditions and give you accompaniment tracks to practice with

Transcription services

Send me a recording to create sheet music from, or have me transpose or arrange a song or instrumental work


Read accounts of my long-term trips and my experience on the Fosse tour

Mailing list

Subscribe to receive news and travelogues

Trip 37 — Jeju and Xiamen Walks

Xiamen day 2: Siming to Wuyuan Bay
Sunday, 6 August 2023

Today: 28805 steps/22.92 km/14.24 mi/4h 20m
Total: 36154 steps/28.98 km/18.01 mi/5h 27m

The Magnatel was in a busy area by Xiamen University, and finding a late dinner on a Saturday was not a problem. Along a harborfront were small restaurants, stores with names such as Whoopee Vintage, and young couples strolling and taking pictures. After the hotel ordeal, I was ready for a drink and dinner in that order. Outside one place was a group of ten people around a table with skewers of meat. I looked longingly at their giant communal self-serve tower of beer. It had the capacity of an industrial fire extinguisher.

The proprietor saw me. "Do you want a Stella?" She had a beer of her own.

"Why, yes, thank you. And maybe some food."

"Food is from next door. Big Stella or small?"

"Big, please." I looked at the vessel on the other table. "But not that big."

She laughed. "No. Five hundred" (milliliters).

She helped me order food from the adjacent business: barbecue skewers such as bullfrog, lamb, duck gizzards, and tofu. My Alipay didn't work there — their QR code was apparently not-quite-genuine Alipay, like those ATMs in convenience stores that aren't quite Citibank — so she paid them and I reimbursed her.

Her bar was called DAC Bistro. It had a giant Heineken badge on it. "The owner is Dutch," she said.

"Another Dutchman? I just met a Dutchman at a German restaurant. He helped me find my hotel."

"Joost and Maria are my friends," she said. "My name is Alice."

"May I take a picture to send them?"

She agreed. When she found out I was a pianist, she wanted a picture on her phone as well.

"There are still very few visitors here," I said.

"These are all visitors," she corrected me. "But all Chinese. There are some from other countries, but very few Americans. Most of the Americans are from United Airlines."

I didn't know they flew to Xiamen. "I think most Americans don't realize China is open."

A man from the large party joined in. "Also the political situation," he said.

I had suspected that too, but I didn't want to mention it.

The barbecue arrived, and Alice tended to the bar for a while. I asked her how late the places here were open.

"On this side," she said, indicating the waterfront, "we open later and stay open later, because we get the sun in the afternoon and it's too hot. On the street, they open earlier but close earlier, around ten." The parallel street behind her bar was also full of businesses. When I left, it was quieter, but not quiet enough to stop me from having a nightcap and an eel-egg roll at the sake bar on the corner.

Alice had warned me that it would be 40 degrees today — over a hundred Fahrenheit. It wasn't that bad when I left, a little after nine. I retraced my path past Alice's place, and then I arrived at the shore next to the massive Conrad hotel, one of two twin skyscrapers whose LEDs shine in brightly fluttering flower arrangements at night.

A raised walkway took me out beyond the shore. Did it take me off the island and violate the rules of the Abecedarian Walks? I decided that it was an extension of the island.

A highway ran roughly above the walkway. I had mixed feelings about it. It blocked my view of the mainland. On the other hand, it provided shade to those enjoying the beach under it, and sometimes it kept the sun off me, too.

Then the highway went back on the island side of the raised walkway, and for most of the next two hours, I had nine of the easiest kilometers of the Abecedarian Walks. Protected from cars, and usually from bikes and scooters, I proceeded along the string of beaches on Xiamen's southern coast. Because it was a Sunday, they were busy with families. Souvenir stalls, snack stations, and public toilets abounded.

The beaches came at intervals, around every ten minutes, separated by stretches of walkway with just a few people. I reached Calligraphy Square, with a few pensive and poetic statues and sculptures, and then Music Square, bearing a guitar, a bass, and a somewhat chintzier treble clef and staff.

Beyond Music Square, there were not many people, other than a few couples taking beachfront marriage photos. I passed an abandoned or unfinished building and was alone for a while. The heat was in full force now, and I was drenched. Salt and sweat stang my eyes. I mopped them with the end of my T-shirt, but it soon ran out of dry patches. I was grateful for the hat.

I walked until I couldn't stand the heat anymore, and then I sheltered in a seafood restaurant near an aquarium. It was one of those eateries where you pick the fish from the tanks. The proprietor and I settled on a whole fish — pearl gentian grouper — and it came wonderfully steamed with ginger and scallions, accompanied by rice with little mussels. When I sat down, they brought out a pitcher of water with lemon. I couldn't wait to chug a couple of cups to quell the sweat — until I discovered it was scalding hot.

The raised walkway had finished and become a sidewalk safely separated from the ring road. There were little cafes and a water park. I was not much more than an hour from my hotel, but the heat had sunk in again and I had to stop twice, first at a convenience store to down a bottle of not-quite-cold-enough water, and then at a casual restaurant for some Pepsi. I was dripping with sweat, which drew half-taunting, half-empathetic glances from the staff. I didn't mind. I knew what I looked like.

I reached my hotel — a DoubleTree, so there was no confusion — and checked into a room with a beautiful view all the way across the sea to the mainland. Just ahead was the wharf for ferries to nearby Kinmen island. If I used its alternate name, Quemoy, it could be my "Q."

This area was much different from the one around the Magnotel. Last night's had people crowding the narrow street and parallel waterfront; tonight's was an expanse of modern giant office towers, culminating in a marina with a mall, a wading fountain, and yachting and sailboat trips.

I contemplated taking one of the boat trips, but there was no posted schedule, and I knew the experience would involve a drawn-out Google Translate purchasing conversation followed by an awkward journey in which I was the only solo passenger on a smallish vessel where it was still difficult to escape the heat. Fortunately a sign in English across the way said "Whisky Lounge," something everyone readily understands, and they would have live music from 9:30. And so, after some grilled mackerel at one of the mall's club-like restaurants with a singer and LEDs to rival the Bund's, I headed to the lounge, which had its own singer and keyboardist performing "Perhaps," "Close to You," and the like. Yachts, sparkling buildings, and clubs: I wondered whether Lai Changxing had anything to do with the place.

Go on to Xiamen day 3