A Travellerspoint blog

A new haircut

There was an interesting ancestral hall in the city called Fengcai Hall. It had an interesting mix of Chinese and European architectural influences, which is typical for Kaiping. It was confusing getting there, but it was quiet in the morning and nice. A pianist was practising in one of the attics, so I listened to her for a while. It sounded nice.

From there, I just went back to the bus station, and bought my ticket home. It wasn't for three hours, so I walked around. I saw a hair salon, and got a haircut and neck/shoulder massage for 68 yuan. It was an alright day.

I love you China

I love you China


Tribe of Diaomin Hostel

Tribe of Diaomin Hostel


Chikan

Chikan


It's just like Amsterdam, right???

It's just like Amsterdam, right???


Chikan

Chikan


Fengcai Hall

Fengcai Hall


Fengcai Hall

Fengcai Hall


Fengcai Hall

Fengcai Hall


New haircut

New haircut


New haircut

New haircut

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Back to Kaiping

I had been to Kaiping a few years ago, but the new version of the China Lonely Planet had some places I hadn't been to before to check out. I wouldn't have a couchsurfing host to stay with this time, so I left on Saturday morning, arriving in Kaiping at about noon.

I went straight for Jinjiangli and decided that's all I'd do for the day. I felt like crap and thought I was getting a sore throat, so I took it easy this weekend.

The buildings are just as beautiful as I remember them, but this particular building was massive. It was nine storeys high and left an imposing mark on the horizon. I thought it was worth the steep 50 yuan entrance fee. I wandered around the village, waving at the old ladies that still live there and speaking my minimal Chinese to an old man drying some sort of mineral he dug up on the pavement.

I went back down the road to Chikan to find a hostel for the night. All the dorms were full, but it was no matter, they had some cheap rooms too.

I went around looking for a special tofu dish but I couldn't find it, so I settled on some leafy greens with tofu and sweet chili sauce by the river. It was too sweet and I paid too much for it. Oh well. The tea was good. A few homeless people walked by to fill their bottles with my tea. Very strange.

Jinjiangli Historic Village

Jinjiangli Historic Village


Jinjiangli Historic Village

Jinjiangli Historic Village


Jinjiangli Historic Village

Jinjiangli Historic Village


Jinjiangli Historic Village

Jinjiangli Historic Village


Jinjiangli historic village

Jinjiangli historic village

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Exploring the farm

I woke up with the sun and the security camera system broadcasting beside my bed. I had a wondrously warm shower and breakfast was immediately thrust at me. Rice porridge and noodles. I went with Jim's wife to town to pick up feed for the ducks and fish. When we got back no one was there. We spent the day drinking tea and exploring the hills around the farm. We fed the fish and watched the geese. We visited some of the neighbours, who are building beautiful new villas for tourists. One of the neighbours even gave me a passion fruit he was growing. They were wonderful in smoothies the next week. We had dinner with a communist party official and the passion fruit man. It was a really relaxing day.

Huangtian hills

Huangtian hills


Huangtian hills

Huangtian hills


Huangtian hills

Huangtian hills

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Quick tour of Foshan

Friday night, I was called in to judge some sort of speaking contest, which was promptly cancelled an hour before it started. Thanks for ruining my Friday night getaway plans guys!

I went to Foshan in the morning instead, and my host Jim picked me up along the highway into the city. We sped around in his little blue Kia SUV to Nanfeng Ancient Kiln, which reminded me of Toronto's brickworks except this place was a lot more productive, with ceramics shops everywhere and beautiful vines growing in between the houses.

Then, we made a quick stop at Liang Garden, which Jim seemed to enjoy. He has a farm growing koi fish for pets, so he told me all about how to choose a good one, while comparing his fish to the ones in the pond at the garden.

Our last stop was Zumiao, where Cantonese started and flourished. There was a troop performing with resplendent makeup and costumes, along with a lion dance show. It's basically a temple but they also have museums and performances inside.

It was quite hot and Jim and I were very tired. We went to his son's English school after all that, where his wife made us some nice duck and other things to eat. We took a nap and then headed off to the farm somewhere near Huangtian.

By the time we got there, it was dark, but someone had made sweet potato soup as a snack. It was great and put me right to sleep.

Nanfeng ancient kiln

Nanfeng ancient kiln


Nanfeng ancient kiln

Nanfeng ancient kiln


Nanfeng ancient kiln

Nanfeng ancient kiln


Zumiao

Zumiao


Zumiao

Zumiao


Zumiao

Zumiao


Zumiao

Zumiao


Liang garden

Liang garden


Liang garden

Liang garden

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Engrossing art exhibits

I wouldn't be able to make it on my 7 a.m. bus, so I decided to spend the day at Red Tory, a reclaimed cannery, turned into an artist studio community. There was a good sized multi media show called "Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition" (phew long name), so I bought a ticket and gallery hopped all day.

What started as a morning wandering the streets in the sun, turned into an all day affair of watching art films in the dark. It was immensely satisfying. I can't remember the last time I had such an edgy arty day. Red Tory is quite a liberal place. I was not expecting to see such political and critical pieces, but I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity presented by this show. Many people are not happy with the way China has developed and this show shouts it out loud and clear. I was actually surprised some of the videos still existed. I was however, disappointed that so many people elected not to visit the show. They were as happy taking selfies in front of refurbished and decommissioned machinery as contemplating the modern world and their place in it.

At around 4 p.m. I noticed was famished. I was so immersed in my little art world that I had completely forgotten about bodily functions. I went back to the bus station, had a mystery meat with massive rice noodles for dinner and then went home.

Time Test exhibition

Time Test exhibition


Machinery at Red Tory

Machinery at Red Tory


Red Tory

Red Tory

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Yuying mountain villa

I arrived in Guangzhou on Friday evening again and went out to Lidia and alexeiy's house out in the west end of the city. It was soooo far and I realized I wouldn't be able to catch the bus back home on Sunday. When I finally got there after one long subway and two buses, Lidia was home and she had invited some friends over to stay the night as they wanted to go out hiking nearby in the morning. We had a nice evening talking in real English and in the morning Lidia and I took her son to yunying mountain villa.

This "villa" wasn't too far but it still took 4 buses to get there. I don't know why they call this place a "mountain villa" because there's no mountains and also no villas anywhere to be found. It was a nice relaxing respite from the city. The ticket price was higher than normal, so it wasn't overcrowded like many of the other gardens/temples I've seen in Guangzhou. I really liked the "manchu" windows, which show four different colors of stained glass, representing four seasons. We wandered around with Damit, Lidia's son while everyone took pictures of him. It was a relief to have the attention diverted from myself for once. It must be so annoying for Lidia though. She's only been here three months, if they stay for three years as planned, she will get completely fed up with it all, I'm sure.

We went home and Damit had a complete breakdown on the bus. We had to take three buses to get home, so I can understand just how annoying it must be for a three year old. Eve though he's been around the world already with his parents, I guess there comes a time when it's all too much. I feel ya, little buddy. We stopped for fruit on the way home and he calmed down. All of us were tired from the whole thing, so we went to bed early.

Me vs. laksa (not even close to Singapore style)

Me vs. laksa (not even close to Singapore style)


Yuying Mountain Villa

Yuying Mountain Villa


Yuying Mountain Villa

Yuying Mountain Villa


Yuying Mountain Villa

Yuying Mountain Villa


Yuying Mountain Villa

Yuying Mountain Villa


Yuying Mountain Villa

Yuying Mountain Villa


Ginger soy curd

Ginger soy curd

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Kicked out of god's house

Mohamed joined us for a jaunt to the Guangzhou museum of art, which he complained about because there weren't any "old artifacts". Yeah dude, it's an art gallery that's why.

The building was huge but most of the rooms were closed, so it didn't take too long to see the whole thing.

After the museum, we went our separate ways. I wanted to see some temples, Mohamed had a party to go to and Melody just wanted to go home.

The temples were peaceful and nice, originally built in the fifth century. From there, I went to the mosque, which was the first one built in China, but they wouldn't let me in because I had shorts on. So, I went to the cathedral, which had the same rules, but they handed me a skirt, which felt really grody, so I just handed it right back and left, a little disappointed. I really don't believe that god cares whether I'm covering my knees or not in a place of worship. From this I gather that buddha is more compassionate than the god of the jews. Just more reasons to be an atheist, blah.

Melody's mom made us some awesome mushrooms for dinner, which were gathered from the side of a mountain and very nutritious, she said.

I went to bed really early so I could wake up at 5:30 and catch my bus home.

Temple of the six banyan trees

Temple of the six banyan trees


Old street in Guangzhou

Old street in Guangzhou


another temple

another temple


Cathedral

Cathedral

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Slimey Mohamed

I took the bus after class again on Friday afternoon and arrived in Guangzhou a little bit early to meet my host Melody.

I went to her metro station and I had a few hours to kill, so conveniently, there was a glasses store and a passport photo shop right next to it. So, I went glasses shopping and got my passport photo taken. I'm gonna need it for my trip to Laos in January. I got some new purple glasses and eight visa photos. Ready to go for maybe another year or two of crazy Chinese bureaucracy. You always need a visa photo for everything.

Melody had one of her couchsurfers meet me at the station, his name was Rune and he was Mongolian. He told me his favourite book was Into the Wild and he's traveling like his hero, without any money. I could feel him egging me on and hinting that he needs money. I wasn't about to pitch in for this experiment.

Melody's mom makes dinner every night for her father and his father's workers. They do construction work and all eat together at the end of the day. Rune and I chowed down. He was really hungry.

After that we went to the weekly couchsurfing meetup near the opera house. That night there was a light festival, so it was packed. We met some nice people and a couple of annoying ones, who we talked about all the way home.

In the morning Melody and I went to the Guangzhou museum and the Guangzhou art gallery, which are next to each other in Yuexiu park. Rune had to go to a "meeting" and I speculated in my own mind at what that actually meant.

Anywho, the museums were cool, and I found out that I had visited all four of China's best ancient towers. Without even trying! Imagine that.

It rained a little bit on us on the way home and we took a nap. Later that evening an Egyptian guy showed up. Wouldn't you know it, it's the one who was looking for "friends with benefits" on the couchsurfing chat group... Mohamed. I was not impressed. We had gotten into a fight online three months ago and the rest of the couchsurfing people attacked him for it too. The thread was eventually deleted so I had no proof that this actually happened. I explained the situation to Melody and she was also surprised. I didn't say anything to Mohamed, so he treated me like anyone. Asking me to find him a job after meeting me for five seconds, and telling me that I have to learn more Chinese, while bragging about his proficiency at German.

We all ate her mom's amazing dinner and went to bed.

Melody and me at the museum

Melody and me at the museum

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Locked out

My Sunday was spent island hopping from Whampoa Military Academy to the Guangdong Museum of art on Ersha island. The military school was a little underwhelming, even though the museum was quite informative. The rooms were all closed, so there was nothing to see except the rebuilt school, which was destroyed 60 years ago.

I had no change for the ferry, so I sprung for some hawthorn candy, which I munched on while on my way to the gallery.

I didn't expect much but the museum was actually really great. There were some old clothing embroidered delicately by hand from the early 20th century. There was also a really nice exhibit on Chinese train travel through the years, something I'm already missing this year.

At about 4 p.m. I was getting tired again, so I headed back to Pietro's. He had gone to Tianjin on business, and I had no idea if Pear would be home. Of course she wasn't, and I waited for at least an hour and then gave up. I went back to the front of the community to find wifi at the restaurant. I managed to connect with Pietro through Skype and he said Pear would get home at 8:30 p.m. I ordered some tofu and pork and snacked on it until the battery in my iPod wore down. When that happened, I walked back and Pear was there, finally. I fell asleep quickly and made my way home in the morning.

Whampoa Military Academy

Whampoa Military Academy


Whampoa Military Academy

Whampoa Military Academy


The ferry to Whampoa

The ferry to Whampoa


Guangdong Museum of Art

Guangdong Museum of Art


Guangdong Museum of Art

Guangdong Museum of Art


Waiting and eating tofu

Waiting and eating tofu

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The ol' bait and switch

I took the bus straight after class and found myself at Tianhe station just in time for dinner a my host Pietro's house. He met me with his girlfriend Pear and their dog Sleepy outside their massive gated community. I brought some expensive wine but it tasted just as good as the cheap stuff. Pietro made pumpkin soup and stew while Pear made cilantro rice.

In the morning I left a little later than I planned because Pietro prepared a nice breakfast of home made bread and yogurt.

I went to Dongshan, a historic part of town with a few buildings from the early 20th century.

That was nice, but I had to go back to the opera house for what I thought was a Shakespeare play. I picked up some sushi and a snack for my lunch in the park. I went to the theatre at 2 p.m. and sat down. All there was was a screen with ads for pre-recorded performances from London. I started to clue in that it was not going to be a performance, it was only a movie.

I asked for a refund and a manager marched me down to the ticket office. I told him there was no indication on the website that all these plays for 160 yuan were actually only movies. He realized the English website was inaccurate and apologized. So I got my money back and went back downtown to the tomb of King Nanyue. It had a ton of beautiful jade treasures which construction workers found in the gravesite of this insanely extravagant ancient leader.

After that, I was really tired, so I went back to Pietro's house where they already had dinner waiting for me. Pear had made some awesome Chinese food. On the way home my sandal fell apart! I had them for one year and was very emotional about it. My previous pair of Chacos lasted a lot longer than that. Later they replaced them for free, but they wouldn't send them to China so I have to wait for them.

Dongshan

Dongshan


Dongshan

Dongshan


Dongshan

Dongshan


Dongshan

Dongshan


My picnic in the park

My picnic in the park


Guangzhou Opera House

Guangzhou Opera House


Guangzhou Opera House

Guangzhou Opera House


Guangzhou Opera House

Guangzhou Opera House


King Nanyue's tomb

King Nanyue's tomb


King Nanyue's tomb

King Nanyue's tomb


King Nanyue's tomb

King Nanyue's tomb

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Sun yat sen's house and Chen family hall

I headed off to the South Island to see sun yat sen's office and house. He lived here when he was appointed to change the government from imperial to a republic in the 1920s. I always like to pretend I'm living in that time when I visit these places so that was fun.

I walked back along the river and past miles of wedding dress stores. Titor told me that most Chinese women only rent their dress so they can get the most extravagant one.

I tried to find the lingnan art gallery but it was closed, I'm not sure if it was forever or not, but it seemed to have been a recent decision.

With a few more hours of energy left I went to the Chen Ancestral Hall to the north. I bought some way overpriced fruit and had a picnic inside. My toe was aching so I rested at a convenient picnic table for a while. A Chinese family started talking to me about teaching their kids. Sorry I don't live here lady!

This place was utterly destroyed in the 1980s but since then it had been built right back up. Now it's colourful and very beautiful. I can only imagine how nice it would feel to arrive here after a long journey and rest. This was a special hotel reserved only for people from the Chen family clan.

I was so tired after that so I went back to Sunny and Titor's house. We waited for sunny to finish work and then had some dim sum and went to bed.

So lifelike!

So lifelike!


Sun yat sen's room

Sun yat sen's room


Sun yat sen's mansion

Sun yat sen's mansion


Sun yat sen's mansion

Sun yat sen's mansion


Sun yat sen's mansion

Sun yat sen's mansion


Chen clan ancestral hall

Chen clan ancestral hall


Still working on it

Still working on it


Chen clan ancestral hall

Chen clan ancestral hall

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Guangdong museum

I caught the bus at 8 in the morning but I probably should have gone earlier. By the time I got to the museum it was noon. I spent the whole day there and my toe wasn't hurting too bad. I liked the dragon boat display and the exhibits built into a fake mountainside. There was also a magical marine wildlife display, with perhaps real dolphins and sharks hanging from the ceiling. The museum is shaped like a lacquer box but I didn't see too many actual lacquer boxes inside...

When the museum closed I met Titor at his work and then almost immediately went home to bed.

Guangdong museum

Guangdong museum


Dragon boats

Dragon boats


Diaolou display

Diaolou display

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Something strange at the ferry station

After listening to the beforementioned cringeworthy drinking game all night (even through closed windows) I slowly packed up and headed down to the bus station.

On the bus I made friends with my neighbor even though he couldn't understand a word I said. We laughed a lot anyhow.

I was happy to have a bed on the bus home, it made it so much more comfortable.

The ferry ride back was a little crazy. For some reason, my passport didn't work with my ticket and our driver yelled a lot and ran around tryng to fix the problem. I was a little worried I'd get left behind, but he managed to straighten everything out in the end and we made it to the boat on time. My bus boyfriend was waiting for me and was very happy I made it. I say, if he really loved me he would've been waiting inside the ticket office with me during the entire drama ;P

Got a bed bus home ahhh yeah

Got a bed bus home ahhh yeah

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Just the beach

I had had enough sleep by 4 a.m. anyway so I went to see the sunrise and eat some dumplings for breakfast. The only goal of the day was to lounge around on Yalong beach. It was far away and surrounded by four and five star hotels on all sides, making it a little awkward to access. I almost had a meltdown trying to find the street after trying to leave the beach because I became trapped in some sort of crazy person's idea of a peaceful luxury vacation.

Some Argentinians sat down beside me and then a really snobby Italian woman sat on the other side of me. She didn't even introduce herself, she just put her bag down and told me to watch it while she swam. How was I supposed to know she wasn't some crazy terrorist? Also, probably no one wants your stupid ugly bag anyway.

It stated to rain and everyone left at the same time with lame excuses. I had the slight feeling they wanted to ditch me and instead of just saying goodbye, they felt like they had to concoct some sort of elaborate ruse to get rid of me. It was weird.

I should mention the awkward and poorly enforced rules at the beach. Every 50 metres there was a designated swimming area. If you attempted to swim outside of them, someone in a green shirt would blow a whistle and yell at you, sometimes they wouldn't. Whatever, the beach chairs were free and it was the nicest beach around, so I obeyed the silly rules. I believe they were created because of the brisk water sport business being done nearby, and they didn't want to cause any accidents.

At another point, some Chinese lady lost her giant pink floating flamingo. It went floating off into the distance and she was screaming for someone to help her get it back. The Argentinian dove into the stormy waves and tried to catch it but he couldn't. A lifeguard saw him and went out on his jetski to help them both come back.

I guess I should also mention some other rude Americans with identical bikinis and e book readers sat down and completely looked the other way when I said hi. I thought the foreigners here were total snobs and weirdos, I wished I spent a longer time at Houhai.

Sunrise at Dadonghai beach

Sunrise at Dadonghai beach


Sunrise at Dadonghai beach

Sunrise at Dadonghai beach


Yalong beach

Yalong beach


Yalong beach

Yalong beach


Me vs. bright red dragon fruit

Me vs. bright red dragon fruit


This is actual hell

This is actual hell

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Wish I spent more time in Houhai

I had read about this interesting fishing village "worth the trip", in my Lonely Planet. It was about an hour and a half away, so I headed out there in the morning. The bus dropped me off about 3 km away with out even suggesting which direction I should walk in.

I managed to find the port, walking aimlessly in the sweltering heat, but all I could see were ramshackle huts and the putrid rotting fish smell was atrocious. I held back my gag reflex long enough to make it to the end of the dock and walk back. The struggle is real.

When I tried to get back to the bus, I walked through the town and it was one of the most depressing things I'd ever seen. I didn't dare snap any photos. Women and children were running all over the place barefoot into dirty cement cubby holes with dirt floors that served as their homes. Some of them were squatting on the road fixing their nets for tomorrow's catch. Why can't some of the price we pay for this delicious food go to the people who do the work of pulling it out of the sea? It doesn't make sense.

I was ready to drop dead from heat exhaustion, but just at that moment, a man with a big smile full of betel nut stained teeth, sold me a huge bunch of grapes from the back of his mini pickup truck.

Earlier, I had fantasized about chowing down on some fresh fish at the docks or in the village, looking out at the sea, but alas, I wasn't in Brazil anymore. From what I could see, there was nothing of the sort even attempted. I was content with my grapes. I found the bus pretty easily and slept until we got to my next destination, Houhai beach.

I thought this place was great, despite the oil rig, shipwrecks and mined out hillside. It was more chilled out and quiet than anywhere else in Sanya. The sand was soft and the water was cleanish. I bought a beer and finished my grapes while napping in the shade. When I came home it was evening, so I went to bed, only to be woken up by some German douchebags looking for "Lisa" at 4 a.m. by bellowing drunkenly into my window.

Xincun port

Xincun port


Houhai beach

Houhai beach


Houhai beach

Houhai beach


Houhai beach

Houhai beach


Me vs. chicken and mango pudding

Me vs. chicken and mango pudding

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