As you all know from my last post about China, I absolutely love the Mainland, so what better way to spend a long weekend than in Guangzhou?! Due to rather unfortunate circumstances regarding a passport (how does it take twenty working days to process a work visa in China?), Craig was unable to come to Hong Kong. Though being in China during a long weekend is the absolute last place I’d want to be, here I was making the trek via the Intercity Through Train from HK to GZ.
For those that have not made this trip before, let me put it bluntly; it sucks. You need to get to the Hung Hom MTR Station (about 50mins from where I am on the island) then hop on the train (you better have bought your ticket ahead of time, otherwise good luck catching the next one) for two hours where it feels like the maximum speed doesn’t exceed 40km/hr and the bright lights throughout the train never shut off regardless of what time of day it is.
You’ll know you’re getting close to Guangzhou Railway Station when people begin to get up and line up at the exit doors before the train stops. If this is your first trip, you’ll wonder why they’re so eager to be the first off the train. If it’s not your first trip, you’re probably already standing by the door. Once they open, it’s a mad dash for the immigration line. Trust me, you want to be one of the first people there because the lines become huge (especially for us foreigners) and it’ll be a miserable hour long wait to get through if you’re near the end.
So, you’ve made it through immigration. You’re in the clear, right? Wrong. Brace yourself because you are about to encounter hordes of people who’s mission is to incessantly get in your way, be obnoxious and ignorant, and generally make you despise the human race (or at least everyone in China). The Metro is beyond massive and every inch is occupied by a living body. I’ve literally never seen anything like it before; for a first timer, it can be very overwhelming. China’s Metro trumps all other major cities’ in terms of size and the sheer number of people within its confines Welcome to lawless disorder.
Unfortunately it does not get any better once you’re on the Metro; armpits in your face, people not moving to let others on or out, excessively loud conversations, bags whacking you left and right, and adults playing children’s games on their smartphones with the volume turned right up. The madness that is China will only subside once you get off the Metro and arrive at your destination. Or, it’s just the beginning.
Craig lives in Panyu (about an hours Metro ride from the city center) and we spent the weekend checking off some to-do tourist attractions around the city, though I can’t say they were worthwhile. We went to Lotus (Lianhua) Mountain, which is ranked #22 out of 291 things to do in GZ. Not too sure why, as it’s not that eye-catching or interesting. The price to get in was 50RMB per person (when looking it up online, nowhere did it mention an entrance fee). We had to then walk for what felt like forever to each attraction around the mountain. Needless to say we definitely got our sweat on. All in all, if you’ve done much travelling throughout Asia, this is definitely not worth a visit since you’ve probably seen countless identical statues, structures, and temples.
The following day we went to Chimelong Safari Park. Considering it was a long weekend, I was pretty surprised that the place wasn’t crawling with people. I had relatively low expectations, but the park itself wasn’t too bad. Lots of different animals and different zones (questioned the “African Tribes” zone where African Americans were all dressed up and playing bongos..). There were some parts that I wasn’t too fond of though, like the animal shows (bears wearing bonnets and holding baskets while walking on their hind legs) and how they had newborn and sickly animals in small dishes on display. Though I wouldn’t go back again, nor would I necessarily recommend it to anyone (unless you’ve never been to a zoo before), it was an alright attraction given the limited things to do in GZ.
We ended the weekend by going on a Pearl River Night Cruise. I’d have to say this was the most enjoyable thing we did all weekend. For about 70RMB each we were on a 1.5hr cruise down the Pearl River where we were able to see the cityscape and had a great view of the Canton Tower, which changes color at night.
By the end of the weekend, I was ready to head back home to the “normalcy” of Hong Kong.
See yah never, Guangzhou!