Guangzhou, it’s a melting pot;
I tried to put off writing about it until I’d photographed and examined every inch of it; I’d landed on July 9th, slightly jet lagged and walked the streets, sauntering about to observe the society I’d been dropped into;
Following the first night, where I ended up staring into Karaoke booths; freaking out the locals and thinking of all the experiences Guangzhou and China had to offer; These are just some of the highlights from my trip so far;
街头生活 (Street Life)
Yes, Street Life; What do I mean by that; I’ve been able to simply wander the streets, finding great colours, textures and smells; One minute there’s an old fashioned guardian lion; the next there’s some kind of market stall full of dead sea-horses; or grandma has decided to do a special chant to commemorate a sale at her Lizhi store; China is heaven if you love people watching more than watching television. The people are great, the and the restaurants/stores stay open; which means you can get ice cream at 3am if you chose to do so….(just like Istanbul)
Every street is full of stories
Windows to look through
2. “The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue.”(Confucius)
It’s actually cheaper to eat out than it is to shop in a supermarket; I only go in for tonic water and those prawn chips that taste vaguely obscene; As a result, I’ve been subjected to a series of very interesting experiences; from awkward moments where I’ve had to beg my Chinese friends to translate the menu via WeChat; to that amazing time I sat and had Pig Brain in Beijing; while the bar played Marilyn Manson at full blast. (It tasted like Tofu)
My favourite experience so far has to be having dinner with my partner-in-crime’s parents; not only did we communicate, despite my limited Chinese (méng méng da!) but it was a pure moment; It just felt like the best thing I could have been doing with my time in Beijing; Also; we had Roast duck and ate Mahjong tiles made out of…something.
Personally, I think Chinese food is totally based around the sharing culture; Every waitress has seemed a little confused as to why I’m not chowing down on questionable roadside dumplings…probably made out of the sausages they sell at 7/11 all the time as I’m alone.
While I have done the whole street food thing; my favorite food tradition in Cantonese culture is ‘Yum Cha‘ You take a menu; check a few boxes and soon enough; you are having tea and dumplings; I guess it appeals to my English longings for afternoon tea and a bit of a show; see below for the epic Mango Cream Yam Cha and Siu Mai (I once ordered Congee by mistake …no pictures…urgh)
3. Adventure is worthwhile
In Guangzhou, here’s just a small plethora of the places I’ve visited, with the notes I’d attached at the time;
Lychee Bay– Really historical; sink a coffee here and take in all the beautiful lakes; Temples nearby; I nearly got chatting to an obviously european tourist; but never could find the words; so we basically had an unspoken travel photography battle in the temple.
Canton Tower– Amazing views of the old fashioned tower buildings. a bit misty and underwhelming.
Shamian Island– The boat cruise from Canton Tower is amazing.
Xiaozhoucun– Really old fashioned, countryside town; the streets are sleepier and it’s a great escape; if only to see the house made entirely of oysters.
Chimelong Safari Park– Sleepy Pandas and Badass Bears; the cable car ride is epic. Even the animatronics and the Longleat style ride is worth the 300 RMB price. Lovely to see families out and about.
Party Pier– Sun in Sky; a fashion centre with good wine; I think I will have to visit it again soon; Especially given their amazing; if pricey shirts; a great space to walk around and imagine if life had been perfect and you’d been a born model.
Chen Chan Academy (Guangdong Folk Museum) – I sometimes think of myself as a temple Runner; I love the history; nothing really compares to the temples of Thailand; mainly because they still have a genuine function beyond tourism; but again, a beautiful place to throw time away.
Big shout out to the wonderful people I met on the TEFL-C! Particularly those still based in Beijing and my Texan crew; basically; a week of hardcore teaching theory, which definitely wetted my appetite to go out in the evenings; I took the metro to various areas, particularly the Xijiaomin Hutongs; where I met a woman who wants to put QR codes on food, I can’t wait to meet my Beijing crew when I’m back in October.
5. Chinese Future;
So finally, I was able to write a vaguely coherent entry about the last 3 weeks; what do I hope for now? Tomorrow; I’ll be looking for apartment and trying to find a place I can call my own;
On Friday; I have a mock lesson for a pet store using Total Physical Response and a week long of observations; Overall, I’m excited to get a place to call my own and finally applying for the permit that will allow me to visit Shanghai and Hong Kong (or Honkers!) with ease…lets go see what they eat huh!?
Thank you to all the people at Disney English so far who have made it an easy and fun trip (Rachel, Paul, Lindsey, Stephen etc…you guys rule!)
What I’ve learnt (teaching) so far: Be aware of different sounds animals make in different cultures.
What I’ve learnt (personal) so far; Don’t always order by pictures; it could be congee.
What I’d like to learn; Chinese, beyond ‘I want…’