Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coffee on Gulangyu (and hotels and hostels)

Bill Brown ...
Links: Gulangyu Hotels

John and Jennifer Anderson spent the better part of a month on Gulangyu, researching the work of John's parents in the 1930s (John was born on Gulangyu Islet in Hope Hospital).

Jennifer just sent this e-mail with suggestions for coffee places and accommodations on Gulangyu.

November 3rd, Mountain View, California
Dear Bill,

I'm a bit slow in getting this info to you- but here goes, with some comments that may be useful to others visiting Gulangyu in the near future:

For coffee -when John craved it after lunch- we found

Miss Zhao Cafe and Keepsake - on a corner of Longtou near the Produce Market. It had expensive coffee that was quite good (i.e. close to Italian), and a frowzy atmosphere- a bit like a bordello. The coffee was Y30. But it was a comfortable place to sit and watch the world go by.

Babycat Cafe- on the stretch of Longtou that includes Wonton Sister, but on the other side of the street, was very air-conditioned and rather sterile looking- all white. Their coffee was also Y30, I think- but they served some food too. And they have their own home-made Amoy Pies that are much better than the ones for sale at many stores around.

Judy's Cafe is a winner! It is small and personal, and Judy is interested in her customers. Her coffees are mostly Y22, the same price hot or cold. I had the most superb cold mocha coffee there. We went back several times- for lunch and/or coffee. She would sometimes give us something extra- e.g. some cut up persimmon, or a couple of apples, for free, and also offered to cook us dinner one evening. She doesnt generally serve dinner. Her cafe is at 79 Yongchun Lu, near its intersection with Quanzhou, a short distance up from the Yo-Yo Inn (#66 Quanzhou Lu)

Of course these Western style cafes serve relatively expensive western style lunches. We often ate street food for lunch or had some wonton soup at Wonton Sister. In the evening we went 3 times altogether to a little place at #64 Longtou Lu- I dont know its name but its in the same stretch of Longtou Lu as Babycat's and Wonton Sister and on the same side as Wonton Sister. The big advantage for us there was that there was a menu that was in both English and Chinese (and they didnt hide it or say there was no menu as happened at some of the seafood restaurants). It was quite inexpensive and had a good range of dishes (not much fish- mainly squid- called sleeve-fish on the menu) but a good variety of other dishes. So it was a good option when we were tired of eating (and paying higher prices for) seafood. It is also cleaner looking than many other restaurants around.

The Bay View Inn was inexpensive (when booked ahead on the internet through HostelWorld), but our room was very spare and small (you saw it). We liked the Yo-Yo Inn much better- also bookable using HostelWorld- but much more expensive (~$60 US for a room for two with a double bed versus ~$US20 for the 'same' at Bay View). We tried Naya Hotel (#12 Lujiao Lu) during our second stay- also inexpensive, but had a room with a bad drain smell, that was even more cramped than the room at Bay View, so we decamped after one night and were able to get into the Yo-Yo for the rest of our time on Gulangyu. The Naya did give us most of money back. And we quite liked it for a western style dinner once in a while. We met a Canadian couple who were happy staying there, but I think they had a room on an upper floor.

The Yo-Yo was Y388 per night and very clean in a revamped old house- so it has a nice style to it - the room was large and had lots of good places to put things - a certain amount of feminine decorative touches, which was nice too. Because it was up the hill a little it was quieter most of the time (but not when there was repair work being done on the building next door). They provided a breakfast (at 8:30 am) of rice porridge with some meat floss, and vegetable and pickle, which was quite tasty (but repetitive- nothing like the variety offered at the Sunshine Hotel in Fuzhou of course). I would stay there again- its close enough but not too close to downtown. It's owned by a couple of young women who were very pleasant and sensible.

The Naya had the best internet connection (in our Gulangyu experience) and Yo-Yo the worst- but Yo-Yo has a pleasant balcony on each floor and a nice front porch where the connection was better.

Philip Wang was horrified that we were paying so much for accommodation and showed us a couple of other places- further up the hill, and cheaper- also very nice and clean- but a little too far away from 'the action'. But we decided not to move yet again. They are:
1) Silly Girl Coffee my home hotel at 1-1 Jishan Lu (not that much further up the hill than the Yo-Yo). It had rooms that were quite comparable to those at the Yo-Yo, for Y360. And its in its own garden which is pleasant. (www.xilinge-hotel.cn) We had had coffee there one day and lunch another- the noodle soup was good and reasonably priced.
2) Piano and Sea Manor, right beside Ji Shan itself (www.piasea.com). It seems that all of its double rooms have twin beds and cost Y230, and on the top floor there was a suite with two such rooms and a central sitting room complete with piano for Y400 per night- it also had a bathroom off the rooftop balcony, plus an open to the sky bath-tub!

I havent checked the websites myself- they are just from the cards we were given when we visited these two places with Philip.

All the best


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