Guangzhou: 22-26 June 2013

4
22 June: Shopping around Taojin metro station

I was fortunate to be able to escape the Singapore smog for several days. This must have been one of the few times I looked forward to a business trip.

CNY4.8 = SGD1
For ease of calculation, divide all CNY amounts by 5.

Singapore Changi Airport

At Guangzhou Baiyun airport, I was greeted by clear blue skies and an extremely long queue for a taxi. I decided to get a private transfer to the hotel instead. It wasn't cheap though.
Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
Guangzhou Baiyun Airport

I stayed the first night at Jovenstars Hotel (CNY338 including tax). The bathroom and room were very clean. The room were quiet. The beds were hard - like they usually are at local hotels. Wifi was free. It was a non-smoking room but it smelled like someone had smoked in it. The Ouzhang metro station is just across the road from the hotel but I had to cross the road under the flyover so it took 5 minutes to walk there. There are 2 electronics shops, a convenience store, fruit shops and takeaway food available just 1 min's walk away.
Jovenstars Hotel
Jovenstars Hotel
Jovenstars Hotel
Jovenstars Hotel
Jovenstars Hotel

For the evening, walked to the next train station, Taojin, where there were local shops along Jianshe 6th Road and a mall, Friendship Store, with shops (from high-end brand names).
Along the way, there was a "Sex Shop". I am not sure whether it's a shop selling sex gadgets or selling sex. It looked too dodgy for me to check out.
Sex Shop

I bought a China Mobile SIM card for CNY65 (though the label on the package stated CNY55) from a shop selling bags near the "sex shop". It contained CNY45 worth of credit. The options for data were 30MB of data plan for CNY5, 70MB for CNY10, 150MB for CNY20, 500MB for CNY50, 2GB for CNY100 and 5GB for CNY200. I selected the 30MB option. (Text BLGPRS to 10086 to enquire on these options. To activate the CNY5 for 30MB plan, text GPRS5 to 10086. You will receive a message to confirm your purchase. So reply with Y to 10086. You will then receive a confirmation message. I could hardly use 30MB because the mobile data connection wasn't good. Many areas did not have any data connection and when I did, it was very slow. GPS didn't work at all. Thankfully, I had the maps transferred into my phone so I didn't have to rely on GPS.
SIM card package
Jianshe 6th Road

I had dinner along Jianshe 6th Road. The dumplings were very cheap. CNY7 for 6 pieces. However, 3 of them had wasabi in them! Yucks :( I didn't eat those.
Dumplings CNY7 for 6 pieces

You can easily buy SIM cards from the vendors along the road. I'm not sure how badly you'll get ripped off but it can't be worse than at the airport.
SIM card seller along Jianshe 6th Road

The Friendship Store mall is at the Taojin metro station.
Taojin metro station

There are vendors on the overhead bridge that links Jianshe 6th Road to the Taojin metro station.
Vendors selling fake DVDS and other things
View from the bridge

I love the name "Friendship Store": If you have money, we are your friends!
Friendship Store
Friendship Store

I was happy to see my favourite bag brand Tumi in the Friendship Store mall. I find their bags functional and of good quality but they don't have many designs.
Tumi bag shop

I was rather amused by the police booth outside Friendship Store. I suppose that's where they bring you when they find out that you are not their friend after all (shoplifters)!
Police booth
Police booth

There's a side street with vendors selling fruit from their pickup trucks and vans. I was tempted to buy a durian but I knew I wouldn't be allowed to take it back to the hotel. I didn't want to risk getting sick so I gave it a miss. I found it interesting too that the durians didn't have a strong scent. Perhaps they don't taste as good as Malaysian ones.
Fruit vendors
Fruit vendors
Durians

I could not resist buying Lychees though. When I paid for them, I felt slightly cheated that they were the same price as in Singapore. However, when I peeled and eat them, I realised that these Lychees weren't the same. The seeds are much smaller than those in Singapore so there's much more flesh. They were well worth the price!
Fruit for sale

The typical seed size founds in Singapore Lychees are large than the seed on the right. The typical seed size is the average of the smallest one on the left and the medium one in the middle.
Lychees


23 June: Shopping at Guangzhou Railway station and Tiyu Xilu

I slept well - till 10am. The hotel was quiet. I didn't pay for breakfast at the hotel. Instead, I bought buns from a shop along the street where the fruit vendors park. Each bun costs only CNY10. They were delicious!
Buns for breakfast
It is convenient and cheap to take the metro. There are English signs and the station names are written in English and Chinese. It costs about RMB10 to RMB50. RMB10 would be for about 2 stops, RMB20 for 4 stops, etc. The metro station is across the road from the hotel. There are more food and fruit shops near there.
Durian shop

I took the metro to Guangzhou Railway metro station to go shopping. There are many wholesale malls near the station. I bought 2 t-shirts for CNY15 each, a pair of shorts with lace for CNY50, a pair of glittery slippers for CNY50, a glittery dress with a belt for CNY70, 2 pairs of patterned cotton socks for CNY15. Don't be fooled by the ordering queue. At interchange stations, all hell breaks loose when the train doors open!
Queuing
On the metro

It's very crowded at the station. Just follow the crowd!
Guangzhou Railway metro station
Following the crowd
Shoes and accessories
Clothes
Children's clothes
Ties
Mid-market mall

I didn't see many places to eat. This was the shop where I bought "mi lai mian". It was flat rice noodles mixed with various sauces, served cold. It tasted ok. Just a bundle of carbs with sauce.
Mi lai mian

I was having a headache either from the heat or from the dust in the clothes (or perhaps both). I figured it would be good to check into the hotel which I was going to stay at for the next few days: Westin Guangzhou. I bought more Lychees on my way back to Jovenstars.

Westin wasn't far away from Jovenstars. It cost me CNY18 to get there. The executive room is huge. I had a nice view of the park.
Westin Guangzhou
My bubble bath and peeled lychees

Westin provides an item in a small square cubic cardbox called a "Relief pack" priced at CNY88. Can you guess what it is? (The answer is somewhere in this post).
I still had a headache so I had to look for coffee. Unfortunately, I only saw Starbucks. An iced latte was CNY27 - rather expensive considering the average salary in Guangzhou - so it was not surprising to see mostly Caucasians there.

There's a nice park right across the road from the hotel (I have a view of this park from my room). There's ikea. And 10 mins' walk away is the Guangzhou East Railway station.
Park
Towards Guangzhou East Railway station
ikea
Beef Noodles CNY10
It started raining soon after so I went back to the hotel to rest. My headache persisted but I decided to go check out the malls once the rain stopped.

Linhexi metro station is 5 mins' walk away from the hotel. From there, I took the subway to Gangding Station (on line 3). Interestingly, the train got delayed by 5 mins. Nobody panicked.
From Guangzhou Jun 2013


Many shops were closed because it was Sunday evening. The sales people are very "attentive". They are hungry to close the sales. Even when I said I was just browsing, they kept asking me what price I was looking at to close the deal. I wasn't going to buy the phones there. The famous brands aren't cheaper than in Singapore and there isn't even a 4G network in China to test the phone. Many of the models they carry do not support 4G.
Gangding
Pricelist
Handphone pricelist

Walked further down toward the next metro station, Tiyu Xilu.
Tiyu Xilu

There was a busker playing his guitar and singing while standing on his head. I was rather amused so I stopped to take a picture and contribute to his kitty.
Busker standing on his head

There are malls here with shops from international brand names. I wasn't particularly impressed.
Grandview Mall
Grandview Mall
This "Pretty women beauty and anti-aging spa center" looks like one of the hotels where you can get a massage and a night's rest.
"Pretty women beauty and anti-aging spa center"

They prevent aging by firing the older staff. Only people under 25 years of age are allowed to work here. I doubt the staff who work here on a fixed salary can afford Starbucks coffee.
Salary


24 June: Shopping at Beijing Lu

I didn't sleep well. The bed was soft enough but I had backache from the bed and probably chose the wrong pillow (there was a firm bolster, a firm cotton pillow, a soft cotton pillow and a feather pillow). I could hear the doors of the other rooms slamming shut in the morning. The breakfast at the hotel was fine. I mean just fine for a 5-star hotel though I expected more variety.

When I got back from lunch with my colleague, my keycard which was left in the slot to charge up my laptop was missing. I had to call to ask housekeeping to return it. It was a genuine mistake but it meant that my laptop battery wasn't charged full.

After work, my colleague and I went to Beijing Lu, near Gongyuanqian metro station. There are many shops here but not as many as I expected. The goods here seemed expensive. Even a box of 20 N95 masks cost SGD2.10 per mask! NTUC Singapore sells it for about the same price. The street was wide. There were many people but there was more than sufficient space to walk freely.
Beijing Lu

For me, the most interesting feature of Beijing Lu was under my feet. Under the modern day Beijing Lu are allegedly roads and gates from nine other dynasties. Look down through the class showcases to see the ancient roads, the remains of the area from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Ancient road
Ancient road
We had Vietnamese food for dinner at the end of Beijing Lu, further away from the metro station. The name of the restaurant is Lemon House. There are 4 branches in Guangzhou. We ordered a bowl of noodles each. I found the food very good. My colleague said her soup tasted strange though. Our total bill was CNY84.

25 June: Shopping at Shangxiajiu

I didn't sleep well again. It's difficult to sleep when I could hear the doors slamming and also the water being turned on in the room upstairs. The breakfast was exactly the same as the previous day.

My colleague wanted to spend her time at the gym after work today so I headed to Changshou Lu metro station on my own. The shopping area, Shangxiajiu, is the first commercial pedestrian street in Guangzhou. The moment I got out of the station, I could see that this was a more interesting place than Beijing Lu. There are drivers offering rides (I didn't ask how much). I didn't notice the couple in the 2nd picture until I reviewed the photos. They had decided to walk instead of pay for a ride : I caught them in my next picture at the wet market.
Outside Changshou Lu metro station
Wet market
Alley around wet market building
Duck head, chicken head and feet
Eggs
Huge onions
Fish kept alive but they have no space to move
Live ducks and chickens
Local housing vs Condo

I love their local food. I bought a meat bun with meat (CNY1.50 each), fried dumplings (CNY1 each) and siew mai (CNY1 each).
Fresh buns (CNY1.50 each with meat, CNY1 without meat)
Fried dumplings and siew mai (CNY1 each)

I was delighted to see a kitten! It appears to be the shop owner's pet because it had a collar. This was the only cat I saw throughout the trip.
Kitten at wet market

These stretches of road leading to Shangxiajiu have cheaper merchandise, such as canvas shoes or dresses for CNY50.
Road towards Shangxiajiu
Road joining to Shangxiajiu
Shangxiajiu
Mall along Shangxiajiu
Shangxiajiu
Shangxiajiu

There was a side street along Shangxiajiu with street vendors sellings clothes from CNY10-25 per piece. I bought an umbrella for CNY25, singlets and shorts for CNY10 each, and 6 pairs of socks for CNY20.
Side street near Shangxiajiu
Sports socks
Cute socks

I was rather upset to find that my shower gel and conditioner had not been replenished. On the second day they did not replace my moisturiser, and today I didn't even have shower gel! I called up and someone came over in 5 minutes with a handful of toiletries. With shower gel in hand, I stepped into the shower compartment... only to find one complete set hidden behind the glass panel. I had wronged housekeeping but she should have placed the bottles in the usual place at the sink.

It was my last night's stay at the hotel so I prepared a bubble bath and lychees! The shower foam provided by the hotel was good. Many bubbles.
Lychees and bubble bath

And for the answer to my question: what's a "relief pack"?
Westin's Relief pack CNY88


26 June: Chen Clan Academy and Tomb+Museum of Nanyue King

I slept better this time. I had figured out which pillow to use. The breakfast was the same again!

The Chen Clan Academy is also known as the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family. Getting there was easy: it is at the Chen Chan Academy metro station. This is a magnificent building with woodcarvings, stone carvings, brick carvings, ceramic sculptures and clay sculptures. There are also exhibits in the building such as bone carvings, paintings and embroidery. The admission fee was CNY10.
Man proudly walking his dog
Way to Chen Clan Academy
Outside Chen Clan Academy
Ancestral worship alter
People gave donations
The steps to making a lime sculpture
About lime sculptures
Brick carvings
About Brick Carving
Inlaid porcelain
Examples of inlaid porcelain
About inlaid porcelain
Ceramic cresting
About stone carving
Stone carving
Closeup of flower basket
Room for Celibate Female
Study room
Bed chamber

These 3 pictures below may not look like embroidery to you but they are! They are life-like and finely done.
Embroidery
Embroidery
Embroidery
Embroidery

These bone carvings are for sale. I like the first one with deer but it costs SG$11,500! :O
Small Bone carving SG$11,500
Large bone carving SG$36,000
Small bone carving SG$8,000


My next stop was the Western Han Nanyue King's Tomb Museum at Yuexiu Park metro station. The admission fee was CNY12. The actual tomb is within the museum site. The owner of the tomb is the second king, Zhao Mei of Nanyue State of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24 A.D.). The emperor's jade burial suit is made up of 2,291 pieces of jade. The over 1,000 pieces of cultural relics, bronze ware and terra cotta ware and even items from foreign cultures were found. Remains of 15 human sacrifices were in the tomb: 4 concubines, 1 official, 1 musician and 9 servants. Many animal bones were found so they were probably sacrificed too.

Imagine how it might have been to become the king's concubine only to be sacrificed when the king dies. Perhaps it's good practice so that the concubines would never assassinate the king!
Tomb Entrance
Jade Burial suit

The jewellery belonging to the concubine and the official were extensive compared to that belonging to the musician. The servants, of course, didn't have any at all.
Right concubine's jewellery
Official's jewellery
Musician's jewellery

There are many items found in the tomb (displayed in the museum). Basically, everything that the king would use in his daily life and all the things which his servants require to cook his meal and attend to him are in there. I cannot imagine how all those items fit into the tiny tomb!

I had the worst meal ever on China Southern airlines! It was supposed to be the seafood option but all there was in it was 1 shrimp with vegetables in cream sauce. The dessert was cake that consisted of 50% cream.
Food on China Southern Airlines

(The hotel incorrectly charged my credit card in Singapore dollars though it was indicated on my charge slip to bill in China Renminbi. I would have expected more from a 5-star hotel).

My favourite links for Guangzhou information:
http://www.chinatourguide.com/guangzhou/index.html
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/guangzhou.htm
Tourist maps
Shopping areas

4 comments:

David said...

Yu-Kym,

A most interesting holiday.

Any particular reason for favouring
Guangzhou?

That headache you suffered just might be from the particulates in the smog that blanketed SG. I am sure you know that many cities in China have problems with air quality.

The sign for that shop you avoided states all one needs to know in small print -"Cheap".

The Westin looks very appealing, although the way they handled your bill seemed unprofessional.

You surprised, likely, most of your readers, with your interest in the tombs and antiquities. I cannot remember you devoting so much interest in such elements of history in previous travels.

The contents of that Relief Pack was to say the least interesting, and appears to be very overpriced! I suppose the question would be what kind of relief one expects. One might suspect that this particular hotel might be frequented by males bringing a hooker of mistress in for the night.

Really why would the hotel provide condoms in such an innocently named package?

Truly enjoyed your travel adventure as this is part of the world I will likely never be able to visit.

David

Anonymous said...

You are a better travel writer than sex!

Yu-Kym said...

I was there for work.
Westin is a business hotel but I guess it's not uncommon for guests to urgently need some "relief".

I've always had an interest in the dead. I just didn't blog about those. (I have been to Cairo and Luxor in Egypt and Auschwitz in Poland). As for history, I've blogged about Siem Reap in Cambodia, Hoi An in Vietnam and Bath in UK.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

One must presume that guest in need of sexual relief, that there is an active sex trade or available escort services near.

Some are interested in the elaborate tombs of ancient Egqyptian, Mayans and other to name due to such tombs being treasure troves for history of these long gone societies.

Thank you for filling in some interteresting personal notes.

David