Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thu 24 Nov - Guangzhou

Hans was awake for sunrise and excited about our first full day in mainland China (while Di was…). This is the sunrise from our room.

Around 7.30am we decided to “do as the locals do” and went to the park across the road to use the workout equipment with the local seniors. We got some directions on “sit ups” – or we think we did given we did not understand a word – and showed our skills in squats and tricep dips (where we get a few strange looks).
Back the room for showers and preparation for our plan to spend the day in Yuexiu Park.  This park is the largest urban park in all China and has several attractions, including the Guangzhou museum in an old Ming Dynasty building.  The park stretches over 7 hills, has 3 lakes and is full of Chinese people exercising, dancing, singing and walking. It’s a fabulous place.

We headed uphill to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s memorial tower.  He was the first president of China and a local of Guangzhou. The tower has engraved his last will and testament and is clearly holds a special place for the locals (and visitors too).

We could not get up to the top of the tower so headed back to the museum, where we could see people on the balcony on the 4th floor. We hoped for some good views.  The museum was interesting too, with lots of information about the foreign trading through Guangzhou, with even a mention of a Swedish ship coming here to trade about 300 years ago. There were some paintings where you could see Swedish flags as well in addition to the usual suspects.
The funniest moment of the day was when we were relaxing on the balcony and an old Chinese man next to us insisted on taking our camera and taking a photo of us. There was a girl who looked like a uni student with him who could speak some English so we felt it would be OK. When he took our camera he was so unsteady and unfamiliar with it we had visions of him dropping the camera. However, he took the photo and with the camera safely returned we asked the young lady with him whether he was her grandfather and she said “no, I don’t know him at all he just talked to me but seems kind”.  We tried not to laugh out loud but giggled the whole way down thinking we had trusted our camera to a funny old Chinese man!

We had been walking a while and wanted to find the famous statute of the “five goats”, which is part of the ancient mythical history of the city. Five celestial beings were said to ride into Guangzhou, on goats/rams” bearing riches for the area.  Do you think we could find the statue? We followed every sign pointing to it (and there were many) but no luck.  We must have wandered an extra two kms searching and finally have to give up cursing goats all the way.
We did find these “outstanding” loos though!

It’s time for lunch as we’ve been walking now about 4 hours pretty much non-stop.  We hop back on the subway towards town to look for some local food places.  Finally, we found a shopping mall with a food court area and choose a Korean at a place called Fairwood.  Reasonable food and value and at least we’re off our feet.

We realise we’re close to the temple of the 6 banyan trees (Liurung temple) and go in search of it. The map is not clear but we find it with some good sign spotting by Hans.  This is a lovely old Buddhist temple area with a 1,000 year old pagoda.  It’s a haven in a chaotic part of town.

We decided to walk back to the hotel, taking our time and finding some interesting parts of town – the electrical district, flower area and shoe markets (of course none fit our big hoofs!)

A coffee and a pastry on the way home and back to our room around 4.30pm.

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