China: The Fo Tan Lifestyle
January 1, 1970
by Shannon Colleen
I arrived to China almost two months ago.I stepped off the plane in Shanghai, took another plane to Xiamen and I was standing in beautiful province called Fujian Province. And the first destination was Fo Tan. You must be asking “What is Fo Tan?”. Well, Fo Tan is located 40 minutes by car, 1 hour 30 minutes by bus outside of Zhangpu County. It is filled with lots of beautiful sites and history. There is approximately 5-8 thousand natives. It has the ancient feels with a modern twist. Houses are made out of concrete, food is prepared by mothers, and seeing a foreigner is very uncommon but extremely welcomed. The love they express for tourists is beautiful to watch and witness.
The Sun: Why is it so hot?
The heat is tormenting, but worth the experience if you are looking for a beautiful tan. Most people do not recommend the beach there, however if you take
a 20-25 minute drive down the mountain, you will be able to see a clear blue bed with crystal sands. Many locals in Fo Tan go there for their honeymoon or family vacations even though it is not too far from their home. Pack your towels, swimsuits, sunscreen, and sunglasses because this is a place you’d truly enjoy! However, if the heat is too much for you, I suggest you travel in the cooler months. Reasons being, coming between the months of June – August is typhoon season. It does rain quite a bit, so don’t forget to bring your umbrella! However, if you think you can handle a “little” bit of water, then go for it. You can stop by local grocery stores and purchase the necessities you need for you trips.
Countryside Feels & Hidden Artifacts
Since Fo Tan is in the country side, I highly encourage you to download a few translator apps (if you don’t know how to speak Chinese) via iPhone or Android. No one speaks English there and it might be a little frustrating and unpleasant. Even though it may be inconvenient to you, it makes your traveling a lot easier. In China, they are very warm and love to take pictures with you! It’s their way of greeting you and sharing that moment with their close family and friends. It’s also a way for you to let them know what country you came from. There are some hidden gems in Fo Tan. You know the hold Chinese traditional homes, with the long beams curved at the end, and the wooden doors and perfectly carved windows? Just like the ones in the movies? Well, they have those homes perfectly reserved for visitors to see. It has so much history and love surrounding it. In different parts of China, ancient homes are now on being preserved, but you find a lot of them in Fo Tan.
The Development of Fo Tan
Like many parts of China, they have gone full speed ahead to make their towns and cities more appealing. Fo Tan is becoming more developed as well. There are several condos are built, they are building a movie theatre and shopping centre. I have been to some of the sites, and they are stunning! The gym there cost about 30 RMB, $6 CAD which includes the following:
- Complete gym access
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Basketball court
- Computer access
- Drinking Station (Water and Tea)
There is also a hospital right in the centre of the town, so if you are feeling ill then you do not have to travel far. However, if you do not like hospitals, there are several walk-in clinics nearby where you are able to have access to Chinese medicine. It is very inexpensive, so you will not have to pay with an arm and a leg. There are no hotels or motels in Fo Tan, but there is a few residing in the town close-at-hand. One way to save money is to purchase a water bottle and kettle. It gives your wallet a break instead of purchasing bottled water all the time! It is family orientated and guided with tradition and values.
Do you want to take pictures of your food?
WIFI is very easy to come by. All restaurants, except for a few have free internet access which is so convenient. WIFI and passwords are always displayed at the front of the store, or placed on the top right part of the table. Keep in mind, a VPN is critical if you want to have access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google. There are several sites that you can go on, download, and pay monthly if interested. This is only a requirement in mainland China, but if you are traveling into the cities, like Hong Kong and Beijing, then VPNs are not needed. However, if you want to disappear and live the simple life, then Fo Tan will give you everything and more!
The food ranges are infinite. The combinations are immeasurable. There is nothing they can’t make. I’ve tried many different kinds of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. Now, depending on your dietary needs, not everything you see you should put in your mouth. However, if you can stomach the oils, and are willing to try new things, then Fo Tan is for you. Women play a huge factor in traditional Fo Tan. They are the masterminds of their restaurants and they urge you to eat as much as you can. Getting a bowl of soup mixed with lettuce, meat balls, green onion and salt topped off with a bowl of traditional fried rice with mushrooms, shrimp, lettuce, and spices will make you do your silly happy dance. This would all cost you 10 RMB which is $2 CAD.
You are able to be yourself here which I truly admire. No one is here to judge you, or hold you to any beauty standards. Many locals appreciate the difference between you and them and it shows how insignificant our beauty ideals are. You are able to walk around the streets at night, get some bbq and enjoy the nightlife. Nightlife in Fo Tan is all about BBQs. Everyone, young and old, gather together and enjoy the arrangements of food. They are usually located in the food market. There are several tables with chairs. It’s buffet style, so you would go up to the cook, put everything that you want in a basket, and wait for it to be grilled. The food is filled with local spices and herbs. Pick your poison of course! Anything can be bbq’d and that’s the absolute truth. Grab a beer if you’d like, because it’s usually all year round. Read my next article about Zhangpu County! I truly love Fo Tan, it has a special place in my heart, and I’m sure it will have an impression on you as well!
Good luck, now explore!