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If you need any more proof that China is anything but a Communist country, welcome to Xiamen’s Wal-Mart forest.
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It was the aftermath of typhoon Meranti’s devastating sweep through Xiamen in the summer of 2016 and after being cooped up in my flooded apartment for days, I decided to venture out into the streets then still largely blocked by fallen trees and covered in broken glass.
I wandered for several kilometers before happening upon the entrance to Huweishan (Fox Tail Mountain) Park. I climbed uphill, scrambling through tangled branches and jumping over rushing streams of water. Normally, Chinese “nature” parks are heavily cultivated and a bit too comfortable for my taste. The typhoon had temporarily rendered this park wild and untamed. I felt like I was back in the cloud-forests of Peru as a college student, slashing my way through the undergrowth with a machete.
After passing a hillside temple, a lychee garden and a log-cabin style public toilet, I had high hopes for the novelty of this park. I then ran across a sign that read “Wal-Mart Forest ahead.” I was flabbergasted. I hadn’t expected this. I knew that China had in the last few decades shamelessly sold itself out to foreign corporations that serve its interests (while hypocritically blocking the ones that don’t, like Facebook). But I hadn’t anticipated such brazen kowtowing to the Gods of retail in the form of naming a tract of land in a historic park after Wal-Mart. I followed the sign and saw that not only did Wal-Mart have a forest on this mountain, but Cosco had also procured itself a “park” adjacent to Wal-Mart’s.
A plaque tastefully etched into a large boulder explains the reasoning behind the naming of the park. Apparently, Wal-Mart invested a lot of money into the revitalization of this park, securing some advertising privileges here. Cosco, not to be left out of the game, did the same shortly after.
All teasing aside, Fox Tail Mountain park is definitely worth visiting. There’s a modern looking tower near the top that lights up in various colors at night, easily visible from below around the Marco Polo hotel area. If you follow the road from here you’ll get excellent views of the ocean near the Haicang Bridge.
How to get here: You can take the 8, 25 or 31 buses to the Xiamen Tea Factory Bus Station – 厦门茶厂 – head north up Hubin Middle Road and take the first left to get to the eastern gate of Fox Tail Mountain 狐尾山 – Park.
Prices and Hours: The park is free and open to the public. There are also no obvious opening or closing times. If there are they aren’t enforced.