Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sat 26 Nov - Guangzhou

Today, we decided to explore more the CBD areas that we saw from the top of the Canton Tower the day before. Well, initially we were thinking of going to the White Cloud Mountains north of town, but given the foggy weather today, when we were not able to see very clear even across the Pearl River from our hotel room, we decided to give WCM a miss.

So, we took the metro to Tiyu Xilu which looked like it was in the middle of things. When we came there, we were met by a maze of long underground tunnels, lined with shops, more shops and… the Chinese love to shop!  Every metro station has a shopping mall on top of it.  It feels a bit like a Las Vegas casino, you come in, it is all glittery and confusing and you have no idea where the exit is.
Finally, we found an exit and came up to street level… and were met by an intersection, with lots of traffic and high rise new towers in all directions, all looking pretty much the same. After some stuffing around, we finally came up at the north of this large area, cleared up and redeveloped in time for the Asian Games in 2010 and started walking towards Canton Tower. Unfortunately the rain has started but we can’t complain – our first rainy day this trip.

Along the way, we bought ourselves a couple of triangular sandwiches and stopped for a mid-morning snack. As we were sitting there, a couple of young girls who were handing out some marketing material stopped by and started to talk and giggle. We finally realised that they wanted to take photos with themselves and us in them. There must have been some 5 photos on their mobile phones before they were satisfied.  Unfortunately (or not), we did not take any pictures of them.
Also, underground in one place was this guy playing drums to a pre-recorded beat, with details of how to drum on a display in front of him.

This whole urban revitalisation brings Sydney to a shame.  There is a huge parkland area right in the middle of town, surrounded by some amazing business towers and China’s Agricultural Bank which was housed in an old and very majestic building.

We were not sure whether the latter was a colonial building or a new building built in a colonial stately style.

And construction is in progress everywhere. I think we managed to get some 10 cranes into the next image only…

Lunch break for the workers…

The architecture is fantastic. Each building has a distinct style and is interesting. The library, museum and opera house are all in unique styles.
Along the way Di was stopped by some uni students studying tourism who had some questions about our tourism experience in Guangzhou. We said we loved the plazas and architecture but not the maps.  These places right in the middle of town are not even shown on them.
Finally, we make it down to the Pearl River, on the other, north side of Canton Tower. A dancing- water display, next to the stadium, is where the Asian Games of 2010 was opened.

After all that, with rain coming and going, we decided to walk westwards along the river on its north side (yesterday we walked eastwards on the south side). We passed under the freeway in a tunnel that definitely not designed for westerners.

We had lunch in a little place which was about to close and we received the bill before finishing the meal or asking for it. Here is Di there happy anyway because she ordered chicken wings, via menu and “Pictionary” and got a huge serve of delicious chicken. One of our better meals but shame Hans’ tummy is not up to it.

We wandered around a bit more and found some lovely parts of town, with 2 and 3 storey buildings and lots of trees providing shade. For a long time, we followed canals off the river, or should we say drainage or water overflows. Most of it looked very nice though, even if the water was dirty.

Finally, we stumbled onto Dongshanhu Park, an area of canals and islands and parkland which we had loosely targeted before we started.

It was a lovely place, filled with families and oldies and men playing card games or fishing and couples playing badminton. They had mechanical horses, which the kids could control by kicking their feet and the usual suspects with paddleboats, but here there were in the form of cars as well.

After the park, we decided to go back to the hotel, but we were nowhere near the vicinity of any metro station, so we decided on the local bus.
On the first bus, we tried to ask the driver whether the bus would go near our area by pointing to the map. Not an easy task, a passenger had to come and help and no, the answer was just “No”.
For the next bus, we decided to just get on and see where we would go, close to a metro station for example. Well, this bus stopped at our local bus stop across the street from our hotel!  Sheer pot luck and we couldn’t help laughing.

Given the state of Hans’s tummy and the state of Di’s blisters on her foot, we decided to have another night in and do room service again. A bit weak, not capitalising on a Saturday night in Guangzhou, but we are out and about most of the daylight hours and tomorrow we are off to Macao and its glittering casino nights.  Also the Manhatten Prawn Chowder, served in a bread roll, is really quite good!

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