On 8th March it was mine and Georgia’s last day in Guangzhou. We had felt like we had exhausted the majority of what was left to do here, as although I throughly enjoyed my time here I did feel like the city was 50% half constructed buildings and shopping malls. In any case the weather was really good, we were warm and the sun was ever so bravely trying to creep through the thick, grey clouds in the sky. Before our day started we went out for some lunch. The best place we have found isn’t the most luxorious of places to eat by any means, it was actually Tesco! However, we didn’t get one of those god awful meal deals you get in England. They serve a big container of rice and lettuce and you then get to choose 3 sides, from sweet pastry levered in sauce, lots of meat options, sea food, mixed vegetables, hot beans etc. The container is packed full with all this stuff as costs 10yuan (£1.10). If you are in China on a budget it is definitely worth checking out your local Tesco for cheap but really good quality and nutritional takeaway options.
Unfortunately the only picture I have doesn’t do it justice.
We then headed to a different area of the city known as the Yuexiu district. Here lies the people’s park of Guangzhou which was built nearly 100 years ago as the cities first public park. A labyrinth of seating areas, erected statues and tables for cards, it is a locals dream of spending a warm afternoon. We spent a couple of hours here reading our books and people watching, which is probably our favourite past time in China. The Chinese are so interesting in everything they do, they look like they are concentrating to be doing the best at whatever they’re doing but don’t give a damn at the same time either.
We headed on after a while and walked the short distance to Dr Sun Yat Sens memorial hall. This guy is famous all across China but especially in the Guangdong province and Hong Kong as he was born in this area. He was a revolutionary born in the 1800s and died in 1925 who influenced the country during times of revolution and through a newly governed state by finding the Republic of China and being its first president. The efforts the government have put in to commemorate this mans work is evident in how well kept the gardens are surrounding the hall and the actual memorial itself.
Walking through we had reached Yuexiu mountain park, well the gate of it anyway. The huge area covers 690,000 square metres and hosts a whole range of things to see and do, including three very big and very cool artificial lakes.
The park is rich with historical relics and scenic attractions including another monument to Dr Sun Yat Sen. From the base of the monument you can see the YueXieShan stadium where the Guanzghou R&F and Guangzhou Evergrande reserve teams play. The day had gone by so fast, we both felt so rejuvenated and peaceful which is often the case when spending so much time in nature.
Steering away from that peace though back into the city we had heard stories of a famous, cheap and well sought after Vietnamese restaurant called Tiger Prawn, and wouldn’t you know we found it. The only slight barrier between me and the delicious food that awaits was the 80 people queuing OUTSIDE the restaurant to be seated. Initially we thought this was ridiculous but we came to the conclusion that if 80 locals are this desperate to eat the food here then it’s got to be good. We stuck it out and within an hour we were seated. The menu was a bible of southeast Asian cuisine, we spent more time choosing what to eat then we did waiting outside. Eventually we made our minds up on 3 dishes; Vietnamese curry, salt and pepper calamari with salad and these vegetable spring rolls. In all the excitement I forgot to take a picture to show you but the portions and the smell of these dishes were extremely overwhelming. I was so happy I could have cried. Accompanied with the meal was rice and a Saigon beer and we also had a delicious coconut and bean sweet pudding. The bill came to £13, a truly affordable and amazing place to eat in Guangzhou, even if everything was in Comic Sans.
Feeling a bit worse for wear but at the same time ready to leave Guangzhou we got to the East Railway Station for about 10:30am. There is not a huge amount to say about the journey, one funny thing was that I thought I had booked first class, as we felt like we needed it badly after a tiring week in Guangzhou and a late night the night before. We ended up in the ‘crappy’ carriage, with champagne and caviar as absent as my hangover.
By 2pm we were in Hong Kong! Another city of us having to figure out the metro system. Which we have actually ranked in order of the ones we have used so far on our travels, taking into consideration; cost, comfort, convenience and layout. (This is the sort of thing you do at 9am in the morning whilst travelling)
- Moscow – cheap, beautiful, Conveniently located and fast
- Beijing – cheap but long distances away from everywhere
- Hong Kong – probably the most comfy but very expensive
- Guangzhou – too crowded, sometimes had to wait for 2 trains to pass before we could get on, but cheap. On our way to the station me and Georgia got seperated on the metro, I got on the cartridge and she didn’t. Definitely a wake up call as neither of us have working phones so it could have been a nightmare.
Anyway, back to Hong Kong. After eventually finding our hostel which we must have walked past 6 times before realising where it was, we were greeted by a lovely bloke at reception who introduced us to our accommodation. For Hong Kong it is pretty good, located on the main road in North Point, the room is small (as everywhere in Hong Kong) but you have your own shower and toilet and the price is the most expensive we’ve paid for a bed and a pillow as of yet but it’s reasonable given the cleanliness, location and cost of living in this huge metropolis. After disembarking our ridiculously heavy rucksacks we showered, got changed and headed out.
We were fortunate to arrive in Hong Kong on a Wednesday as each Wednesday the Happy Valley Racecourse is open to the public (aswell as the wealthy members). The entry fee was 10 dollars (91p) and you were able to use the full facilities of the track. Me and Georgia didn’t bet much but instead enjoyed the views of the city skyline in the backdrop of the stadium, the atmosphere and of course the food and booze. Watching the races here has been one of my life long ambitions to see. I have never been to a horse race in my life, and I don’t necessarily agree with the ethics and morality behind it but the aura and excitement that sweat from each betting participant was enthralling and something I’ll never forget. A great introduction to Hong Kong, a place that looks promising to be one of my favourites whilst travelling.