There’s an element of risk that comes with travel: One minute; you could be idly enjoying a particular scrumptious plate at some quaintly run-down noodle shop, the next you could be rushed to hospital with so many tapeworms they need name tags.
So when I lumbered onto the metro line followed by some rather dubious bus journeys on my way to Shawan and Huangpu this Wednesday and Thursday, I counted the places I had been in my head once more, maybe to remind myself that despite moments of uncertainty: I’d seen some pretty curious things in my time in Guangzhou so far.
I’ve never been very good at keeping a diary; I keep ticket stubs; I like to write about my experiences online…talking to…someone…I suppose…maybe myself…who knows?…anyway, first off: I set my sights on Shawan Ancient Village in Panyu;
Shawan: Sleepy old ghost town
About an hour away from central Guangzhou: Shawan seemed another opportunity to see how the other side of China lives: You won’t find KTV booths here; there’s not even a 7/11; you get a sense of what China was like before it was thrust into the modern age of selfies, social media and hundreds upon hundreds of types of Hong Kong style waffles.
At first, it really seemed like the locals had given up on the village; there was certainly this overriding sense that I was the only tourist in town; therefore nobody had bothered to set up shop: There’s no official entrance; I just stumbled in; and bought a dusty old ticket; luckily, some city dwellers soon appeared to join me in a pre-amble around the historical Buddhist flecked surroundings of sites such as Wenfang Tower;
Prayer ribbons abound; I’d first come across these little red ribbons of luck back in Lijiang; who leaves them there is a slight mystery; you don’t see many of the locals comign to pay their respects to the tower;
Nevertheless, I spent a good half hour just trying to make a video blog; something I’d like to personally achieve in the next few entries; once I’ve gained enough experience my to wax lyrical, poetical and fantastical language on old stuff and golden gods of Buddha;
I am into the Buddhist faith from a strictly cultural and historical perspective; yet there is a small glimmer of faith in the power of Buddhism to change lives for the better; particularly with meditation; particularly Transcendental Meditation; a technique unconnected to to spiritual world of the Buddhism; but still a glimpse into something beyond ourselves.
Anyway; the fact I rambled proves that perhaps; while Shawan may have once been a great place for a day out with the family; it’s now a very peaceful; non-touristic tourist attraction; don’t come for a glass of wine and a bit of lunch however; the shops are closed; the locals are asleep; “Everything is broken and no one speaks English” as Tom Waits once quipped.
Some people have mentioned to me that Thailand and it’s temples have lost their edge in the grip of tourism; yet, I must admit; I feel more wowed by their golden pagodas than I have felt in a temple in China so far; the most spiritual element here has to be the ‘Tobleroneesque’ incense burning all around the main temple of Shawan; You know it’s a spiritual experience when you want to frantically order the temple awnings on Amazon:
Ancient Huangpu Port and Village
So after a long day; I lay in bed after an evening of misadventure to take on the dizzying heights of Ancient Huangpu Port and Village; an old fisherman’s town; where the fisherman have resorted to jobs in cafes or dumpling stalls; as a result of the lack of anything going on in the lake or the village itself; another long metro journey; so close to some random Chinese people it was like we were dating.
The most interesting part of Huangpu has to be the maritime museum and it gets worse from there; needless to say; after the quick jog around Shawan the previous day; I was at least hoping for some seafood; but nevertheless; the history of trade in China is vast and ongoing; you get the sense that it’s a nation which never stops; it may have a cup of tea and a bowl of dumplings; but still; trade is everywhere…
Yet I don’t regret each experience of this weekend; it’s better than relaxing by a pool; though sometimes, maybe a relax by a pool; the simple taste of fresh fruit and music is all you need; I will keep this in mind for my next experience: I’m not done with temples of the villages; but it’s time to find my mojo; buy a few quilts and seek out the next experience.
I ate…This weekend, I’ve been to Social and Co to find they had something resembling a Taiwanese Bao; to be honest; it wasn’t so good; but the cocktail was photogenic:
Secondly; I stumbled into NoodleBar in Zhujiang for a slightly overpriced Shrimp Laksa in a hipster restaurant; admittedly; I was starving after my day at Huangpu and should have walked out when the price upgrade was due to 3 more shrimps being placed in the bowl. Still good to try and I may go back for something a little cheaper sometime.
Cocktail of the Week: Happy Monk at The Happy Monk(Zhujiang New Town)
A medicinal medical hit with Pineapple and odd sauces…lovely…. which during Happy Hour is worth the three quid; otherwise, stick to a beer.