Sunday, April 11, 2010

Xiamen, China

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Our flight from SHENZHEN to XIAMEN (pronounced SHAH-men), took only a little over an hour, via DRAGON AIR. As soon as we touched down, our minder whisked us away to our next couple of appointments, which, unfortunately, took us late into the night. We hardly had time to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the cool off-shore breezes of Xiamen...

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A couple of days before arriving in Xiamen, while watching Chinese television, Missy and I had watched a TV program all about the LE MERIDIEN chain of hotels in Asia. They talked about how all the hotels were cutting edge, designed with creative people in mind. We were anxious to see what this hotel had in store for us...already, we knew the hotel would be a little different, as we me made our way up this long driveway, up this secluded hillside. Most of the hotels we stayed at so far were at "street level" - situated on the busiest streets or intersections. But this hotel wanted to separate itself from the hustle and bustle of the city, and transport you to a new a unique world. We had learned from the TV program that this was indeed the intention of the Le Meridien hotels. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by all these strange little orange statuettes (Missy calls them "THE GREETERS")...

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We were oohing and aahing at everything we saw in the lobby. Every nook and cranny had some sort of artsy detail. Even the elevator had BUILT-IN CRICKET SOUNDS, a sly comment on how awkwardly quiet an elevator car full of strangers gets. Everything from the carpets in the hall to the room key was thoughtfully considered...

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Needless to say, Le Meridien did not dissapoint. Our room was...BANANAS. The craziest thing about our suite was definitely THE BATHROOM. To begin with, there was a giant glass wall separating the bathroom from the rest of the bedroom. It was like a GIANT FISH TANK...

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The tub came with it's own TELEVISION! It took us a while to suss out that there were separate controls for the television and for the "PRIVACY SCREEN". Like I said...BANANAS:

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The water closet (a.k.a. the toilet) and the shower each had these beautiful FLORAL MOSAICS, and each were separated by frosted glass dividers...

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Even the hallway closet, often a mundane room feature, had a nice touch of detail to surprise us...

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Above the bed, there was this CRYSTAL-LIKE FIXTURE with LED LIGHTS inside of it. With a flick of a switch, you could choose one color, or have the colors change automatically, like some sort of disco...

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The living room and guest bath were cool too, but certainly not as cool as the bedroom and main bath...

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We decided to head down to the restaurant, hoping that it was not too late for them to serve dinner. It was. But they were nice enough to serve us anyways. We had learned that the new hotel had only been opened for six months, and they were eager to impress new patrons and gain customer loyalty...they didn't have to try that hard! They even threw in some free desert as an appetizer - a light CHOCOLATE MOUSSE with white chocolate shavings and pistachio, served in fluted wine glasses...

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We devoured dinner then headed back up to the room for a good night's sleep. I loved Le Meridien's attention to detail and their witty "DO NOT DISTURB" SIGN was no's probably the best "do not distrurb" door hanger ever...

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In the morning we ventured out onto the balcony to get some fresh air and check out the deserted enclosed courtyard below. Afterwards, we headed back down to the hotel restaurant, LATEST RECIPE, to load up on breakfast. Missy posed with one of the greeters, before we hit the buffet...

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Soon, we were back in the lobby, waiting to board the minivan to our next round of appointments. We were all bummed to have to leave Le Meridien so soon...

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One of the main modes of personal transportation in China is by scooter or motorcycle. If you have your own motorcycle, you can hire yourself out as a sort of D.I.Y. TAXI SERVICE...on many a busy corner you can see men with brightly colored helmets, sitting on motorcycles just hanging out, waiting for their next fare...

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