Xiamen is an attractive coastal city one and a half hours flight south from Shanghai and is the major commercial city (but not the capital - that is Fuzhou) in Fujian Province. It nonetheless enjoys an excellent living environment and is rightfully regarded as one of China's most pleasant coastal cities. Xiamen has long held close ties with Taiwan - the Taiwanese island of Jinmen is swimming distance just off the coast. Previously known as Amoy, Xiamen is home to a handful of consulates, and with its initial trading history stretching back to 1516 it possesses a wealth of colonial history -- the island of Gulangyu, easily reached by regular ferry or speedboat from the main port (it is only a 5 minute ride) is a fascinating walk with old colonial mansions. a great beach and no traffic. Xiamen has an excellent new international airport, just 20 minutes from the city center, with Hotels such as the Marco Polo (0592) 509 1888 and the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza (0592) 202 3333 being the main focus for overseas travelers. The city is also host to the annual China International Trade Fair, which takes place every year in September and showcases all of China by Province with huge stands outlining the commodities and materials produced by each. There are a bunch of bars located just to the left of the main entrance to the Marco Polo which get popular amongst expats, while the bar at the Holiday Inn is really the focal point for the local expat community, Xiamen has a variety of discos also. Xiamen is a seafood lover's paradise with all manner of delicacies such as oysters, prawns and crabs in addition to garoupa and lobster which are farmed locally. Xiamen beer is also a decent brew and just right for those warm, sub-tropical summer days.