The Tourists

Guangzhou at this point has been rendered by myself as a ‘must visit’ in regards to visiting China. Although the past couple of days me and Georgia have been doing some pretty touristy things which I will explain shortly, it is a fascinating place to be a part of, even for a small amount of time. So on Saturday (5th March) me and Georgia had a mini intervention where we came to the conclusion we needed to do some clothes shopping. After climbing the mountains the day before wearing thermals and jeans in 25 degree humidity we thought enough was enough. We had spoken to Lee, our host the night before about a good place to get some clothes and he mentioned Beijing Road. So off we went to Beijing Lu. I’m not quite sure what I expected but the shopping district of this area was so heaving it was almost insane. Of course choosing to go on a Saturday wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had but to compare it with London it was probably Oxford street on the 23rd of December, twice over. Lee was right there were definitely loads of shops. We got some bargains, I got an adidas jacket, some Nike shorts and 3 t shirts for £9 and Georgia also got some tops and pyjamas (lol). 

  
The only thing I really needed is some new shoes. I’m currently wearing these heavy, mock Timbalands which are too much in this heat, what I hadn’t accounted for was the fact that Chinese feet don’t grow to a size 11. No shops sold any shoes that were over size 9.5, bummer. I don’t know why I didn’t pack some of my trainers! 

  
Anyway we were there for hours and hours and after having some tasty Korean food we went back to the hostel. After freshening up we decided to meet Tim, that German fella at a Tavern in the Zhujiang New Town to watch the Arsenal v Tottenham game. Me and Georgia headed off there. It was the first place in China we had been to where over half the customers were expats, and the other half were Chinese women dressed very elegantly, flirting viciously with the expats in an attempt to assess how wealthy they are. It is quite funny to watch these women go from drunk man to drunker man, back to drunk man, all of these retired businessmen, sunburnt with money to spend. After a tense match Arsenal drew 2-2, it was about 11pm by now so we decided to go home so we could catch the last metro.

  
Yesterday, feeling dehydrated and flushed we got out of bed as soon as we could as to not lie there wasting our day. We had to pop over to Guangzhou East Railway Station to pick up our train tickets to go to Hong Kong on Wednesday which went fine. After which we did some food shopping, read our books and had some lunch it was great. 

    
That day was Mothers Day and to be honest It had been the first day we both felt quite home sick, our internet connection here is so bad, you’d need Harry Potter himself to do some sort of spell to make a whatsapp call work. Mine and Georgia’s strategy for travelling is that if there is ever a day we felt abit down we would always pack our bags and go to the local zoo, so that’s exactly what we did. 

  
Guangzhou Zoological Garden was enjoyable, the spaces for the animals were really open and well planned out and the animals themselves seemed so well looked after, but for a city that is so modern and flashy it was a pretty outdated looking zoo that had a hint of tackiness attached to it.

  
Regardless of that we had a fun afternoon and we came back to a home made Chinese meal cooked by our hosts. A combination of tomato egg and sweet corn, which is a standard ‘filler’ dish in China, these beans that were doused in Peanuts of some sort (translating names of food is hard),  spicy dishes which again had vegetables, beef and beans and also Tuna in an amazing rich sauce. It was miraculously marvellous.

  
Some points I want to make about the pros and cons of Guangzhou out of fear I might forget them myself.

Pros

  • the weather is very seasonal. February to April is foggy and sunny, April – June is rain, June onwards is sun, it is very black and white according to the locals the weather is pretty much set in stone,so planning a trip here is convenient.
  • The people here are much more friendlier than up North (remember this is only in MY limited experience) they like to talk to you not out of financial gain and generally are happier to see you.
  • It’s considerably cheaper than Beijing. Put it this way, I have stayed 4 nights in Guangzhou and excluding accommodation I have spent £70 on transport, attractions, food etc. The same amount of time in Beijing I would have spent at least £150. A big gap.

Cons

  • It is constantly busy. I don’t know how to explain it but Guangzhou simply has too many people living here. Every metro ride everyone is like a sardine in a tin can, with each station passing feeling like an eternity.
  • The language barrier is harder here, although transportation is listed in English lots of menus at restaurants and supermarkets etc are not. The locals find it more difficult to understand what we’re trying to communicate. This is due to the complication of locals speaking simplified Chinese or speaking Cantonese.
  • There is a more limited amount to do here for a budget traveller. Guangzhou has some pretty impressive history behind its name but nothing like Beijing. I’d say half of the ‘things to do’ in Guangzhou are shopping orientated, which does not interest me and Georgia. To be fair this could be a pro for other travellers but not if you’re wanting to admire the history and legacies of the places you visit.
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