Monday, February 2nd, 2004 – Day 349 to Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004 – Day 350

Monday, February 2nd, 2004 – Day 349

I was up at 6.00am and left at 6.30am. The bus stop was 15 minutes walk away. I was prepared to wait until 7.30am (and then get a taxi) as my flight was at 10.00am. I was there until 7.10am until a bus arrived. It took about 40 minutes and cost 50 Baht (its 100 baht from the airport INTO town).

I watched about 12 of the Super bowl before getting my flight which too 2.5 hours. Its also 1 hour ahead. They have a cool airport here so no problems. As I have been in Hong Kong before and don’t have much time before my flight to Ireland, I purchased a 250 HG Dollar (25 Euro) bus to Guangzhou (6 hours). Still its a lot colder here than in Thailand. It was a dark and dreary journey. Border controls were no hassle and I got a 30 day visa for china (it was a double entry Visa).

  • 19 Chinese die in England while ……….

  • 37 people die in a crush on a narrow bridge at a traditional Lantern Festival event in the suburbs of Beijing,

The Lonely Planet gives little information on Guangzhou but from what I read it is one of the more Westerised places in china i.e Metro lines, shopping etc. It also says it had the most expensive accommodation. I got in at 5.00pm and toyed with the idea of taking a overnight bus to Guilin. This was indeed possible (and is what I should have done). Even the hostels are 100 Yuan (10 Euro) for a shared bath.

The guide is poor a it only mentions a few hotels. In the end, I went with a tout to a 130 Yuan hotel. The hotel paid the taxi fair and the tout only got a 10 Yuan commission, so its not so bad. It was the HUA NING HOTEL. It was close to the bus station which was fine. The problem is the airport is also close to the city centre and large planes flew over the hotel every 5 minutes until midnight. It was directly under its flight path. I watched them for an hour. The Chinese TV was showing Jack and the Beanstalk.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

A Plane flying over my hotel in Guangzhou (02-02-2004)

Guangzhou is 163km (102 miles) NW of Hong Kong. It’s a shame that for many visitors Guangzhou is their first and sometimes their only view of mainland China — a 1- to 2-day side trip from Hong Kong. While it escapes the rigid grids that dominate other major cities, and while it has genuine wealth rather than the skin-deep glamour of many other former treaty ports, the city’s sprawl is disproportionate to the number of places of interest it has to offer, and those venturing further inland should not mind missing it altogether. From Hong Kong, if the choice is Shenzh?n or Guangzhou for a brief visit, choose Guangzhou.

I walked to the bus station and bought a ticket to Guilin for 150 Yuan. The first sleep er bus was at 8.30pm. After that I went to a Tesco supermarket which was massive. Forklifts traveled along the ailes. It was the biggest supermarket I have ever seen. I had an early night.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004 – Day 350

I wasn’t up and about until noon. Why both. After that I took a metro (4 Yuan) to Shamion Island.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Shamion Island in Guangzhou (03-02-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Shamiin in Guangzhou – Called the AGes of beauty this statue is unusual – the 3rd Western girl looks like Posh Spice!!! (03-02-2004)

Forced to relinquish a permanent trading base to the hated barbarians (brits) at the end of the First Opium War in 1841, the Guangzhou authorities probably sniggered as they palmed off a sandbar to the British and French. Perhaps they sniggered less when it was promptly bunded (made secure with artificial embankments); was provided with proper streets, drainage, and imposing buildings; and became home to a prosperous foreign enclave with everything from tennis courts to a yacht club, employing many Chinese in service roles. The rest of Guangzhou lacked even properly surfaced roads well into the 20th century. Shamiin still retains some of its former grandeur in the mansions which were the foreign residences, business premises, banks, and consulates. The mansions were taken over by dozens of families after 1949, but they were recently restored in many cases to former splendor, with each major building labeled as to its former purpose. Now partly pedestrianized, its broader boulevards are like long thin gardens with a lot of topiary. A line of bars and cafes on the southwest side with views over the Pearl River serves modern expats. Souvenir stalls, tailoring stores, and teahouses all have inflated prices, and all offer “special discounts” to those with children — the U.S. Consulate on the island is the one specializing in adoption matters, and wannabe parents fan out from here to collect their new daughters (almost always daughters) and return to do the paperwork.

It was raining all day and there was nothing special about the place. After that I stubled across a chinese traditianl hospital and signed up for acupuncture. Its a recognised hospital and very clean and efficient. It took 40 minutes to explain what I wanted and get signed in. It was 30 minutes of jolt fun as they use electrical current on the pins. It was good though. Pity about my legs moving all over the place though.

Information – The Laymans Guide to acupuncture.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown as effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of two thousand years. Recently, electromagnetic research has confirmed their locations.

I did little the rest of the day. I see on the NET that Official figures show that more than 120,000 people were killed in traffic- and work-related and other accidents in the first 11 months last year in China.

At the bus station (I took a taxi there) I met a Greek American girl called Tina taking the same bus. She had come from Hong Kong that day. It was a very clean sleeper bus (but I never sleep on the bloody things). It was 12 hours to Guilin.