Bill Brown ... Xiamen University
Our family expected to spend a year or two in Xiamen and we're still here 21 years later, but Xiamen has been the "Hotel California of China" since at least the 1860s. You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave--and probably won't want to!
Why Seven Becomes Fourteen!
From Boehm, Lise, “China Coast Tales,” Kelly and Walsh Limited, Shanghai, 1897. “In the Sixties,” Part 1, page 1-3 pp. 7,8
As everyone in China knows, at the end of his first seven years of service a Customs Assistant may apply for two years' leave on half-pay, which period he may spend anywhere usually "at home," viz. Europe his return passage to China being paid for him. But of those Assistants who may take their leave, under such favourable conditions, there are a great many who do not find themselves in a position to do so, and this in spite of having received regular and excellent pay during their period of service. At the end of his first seven years in China a man has often saved nothing, his brain having been turned by the mere possession of money, seemingly inexhaustible to one who has perhaps been brought up in narrow circumstances. Or, he has been bitten rabidly by what is known as "Sinology," and lives, speaks, thinks, and dreams of nothing but the Chinese language and literature. Or, he has been drawn into the ring of speculators, and has risked, even if he has not lost, all his savings in strange and wonderful mines and companies. Or, he is drinking himself into an untimely grave. And as it is far easier to live on nothing at all, and to die leaving your family to your friends, or to be a Chinese student, or to be a speculator, or to be a hard drinker, in the East than in the West, the man of seven years generally stays out fourteen.
note from Bill...
There you have it, folks! Even 150 years ago, Xiamen was the Hotel California of China! But what a delightful place to be stuck.