Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not Quite Fantasy Island

But still a nice place to spend a couple of days.

From Hangzhou I headed south to Xiamen and the island of Gulangyu. The town on the mainland isn't much, but the island is a nice place to visit and relax a little. No private vehicles are allowed on the island at all, not even bicycles. But then they really aren't needed. You (meaning I) can easily walk around the island in about four hours or so. But, for those who would rather, the tourist services on the island have some electric carts that can be ridden to most places of interest.

What people go there to see actually, are the small beaches and parks and some of the architecture around the island. I contemplated taking a swim on one of the beaches. The water was a bit cool, but the heat of the day made it oh so very tempting. I ended up just wading, though. I had a twelve hour train ride the next day and I didn't fancy hauling around wet clothes.

(Actually not on the island, but it looks very James-Bond-Moonraker-ish, doesn't it?)

(I rather like this picture, as long as the monitor is not too dark.)

From Xiamen it was on to Guangzhou. My last stop before I left China. Well the real China. Technically Hong Kong is China, but it doesn't much feel like it. Anyway ...

Guangzhou is a OK place. There are a couple of interesting things to see and nice places to visit. Unfortunately, as per how my luck seems to be going this trip, my time there coincided with a big wholesalers convention which meant all the room prices were nearly doubled. Even the dorm beds. That was certainly a bummer.

(You can get all kinds of things from the markets in Guangzhou, even things you would never expect someone would want to buy.)

The river is maybe the best place to be based. Most of the things to see are rather scattered around the city, though. They are not really too hard to get too, but some walking is involved.

Walking along the river is nice, but be careful. Don't assume, like I did, you can just walk along the river from one point to another. I had crossed a bridge at one point along the river and could see where I needed to go up river, so I just started walking. Unfortunately, at one point, access to the riverside was closed. No problem I thought, I'll just turn inland a bit, follow some roads and then walk back to the river. After a rather circuitous route I ended up back at the river only to walk a little more and find out access was closed again. So it was back out to the city streets. This time my route to find access to the river kept taking me further and further from the riverside, especially since the river started to bend the other way. It was getting dark. I gave myself 30 more minutes to find the river, and I did. Only to find that riverside access was blocked yet again. I started to go back out to the streets and find a new path, but it was getting late and the further I went, the further I would have to go back. It was time to admit defeat and head back. Hopefully I could remember the way I came.

Luckily I found my way all the way back to the bridge, crossed it, and went back the subway station from where I had originally started. What I thought would be a 30 minute walk back to the hotel, what should have been a 30 minute walk back to the hotel, turned into a nearly 2 hour adventure wandering around the streets of Guangzhou in the dark. It would have been nice if there was something to see, but it was just a dusty city.

One other thing, if you plan on running your own retail business, then you should certainly visit Guangzhou and set up a few business connections. Guangzhou is wholesale heaven- everything from holiday decorations, to toys (be careful which toys you choose, though), to ceramics, to buttons and beads, probably anything for any type of shop you would want.

Before I leave China, I have to make one more comment. It pertains to something that every country does, but some more than others. While living in Korea, I came to believe that Korea and Koreans were very good at it. But after visiting China for only two months I have come to realize that China is the master of Self-Congratualtion. In China, especially as a tourist, you get the impression that nothing bad ever happens there, and if it does, it is due to some other nation. China has the best of everything and does the best at everything. China can do no wrong, and if something does seem maybe a bit wrong to you, it is because you are probably looking at it from the wrong perspective. The Chinese view is the only view.

Enjoy the photos. Most are from Gulangyu, a couple from Xiamen (the temple shots), and the last third or so are from Guangzhou.

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