Guangzhou stopover - 4th August 2008 @ 11:28 am «   »

Location: China, Guangdong Province : Guangzhou stopover

We left Hong Kong on Sunday around 11:00 and caught the Metro all the way back to Shenzhen on the Chinese border. At the Chinese passport control point, we got held back because they did not believe it was Jan on the photo (it must be his long hair). They even called another official to investigate and he only let us through when an alarm went off somewhere and he had to run. A few steps further we got stopped again and they searched our hand luggage (which was just a plastic bag with the new camera and computer boxes). They discovered some bananas and apples in this bag and took us to a little room. Very seriously they filled in different forms and we expected to be charged with some kind of fine for smuggling fresh fruit into China. But after dramatically discarding the fruit in a big blue plastic bin, we were sent away again. Of course no one could speak any English so we just smiled and walked away at this stage.

It was fairly easy to get on a train to Guangzhou in order to get connections to the rest of the country. The high speed train only took 1 hour and was very luxurious compared to other Chinese trains. In Guangzhou we went straight to the ticket hall to try our luck with train tickets for the same day (near impossible in China!). We had planned to go to Sichuan Province, however all the tickets for the 30 hour train journey were sold out for the next 3 days. After spending more than 2 hours at the train station trying different routes (having to queue up every time we wanted to ask a further question), we decided to do something completely different and bought tickets for the island Province of Hainan. This still meant we had to spend the night in Guangzhou, so we took the Metro to a small river-based island in the city and checked into a hostel, The Guangdong Youth Hostel, for the night. The hostel is actually a hotel with a communal lounge area with computers and a TV and after the dodgy, dirty accommodation in Hong Kong, it was very refreshing and felt like a 5 star haven to us.

We spent a while relaxing and recovering from the Chinese heat before we found a very nice little restaurant on the waterfront for dinner.

This morning we managed to fill another 10kg box with goodies we bought as well as stuff we don’t need anymore and posted it to Australia. The women at the counter very kindly charged us for every piece of tape that was used to close the box as well as the time it took her to check the contents (a full hour of unpacking and looking at everything in the box!).

After a proper Western burger for lunch, we visited the Qing Ping Market in Guangzhou – the most famous and bizarre in China, full of strange foods, animals, and animal parts for sale. There is a saying: “the Cantonese will eat anything with four legs, except the table”. The market is full of all kinds of strange Chinese herbs and everything you can imagine is sold in a dried form – from dozens of different kinds of mushrooms, to seahorses, snakes, tongues (we couldn’t figure out from what animal though) and worms. Then there is also the live animal section. The Lonely Planet warned that the likes of dogs and cats are on sale for human consumption, but we did not see any of this (only in pet shops). We only found live scorpions, water turtles, frogs and snakes in plastic buckets on the streets.

We had to hang around the hostel for the rest of the day as our overnight train to Hainan Island only leaves at 21:25. We are not really looking forward to this hard-sleeper journey, but we are planning on just relaxing on a beach in the town of Sanya for the next few days.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

Comments are closed.