A Travellerspoint blog

December 2016

NYE on the subway

I stayed up all night in Guangzhou on New Year's Eve, but I didn't even see the countdown. I spent the afternoon buying a stolen camera, and then having some delicious Turkish food for an early dinner.

I decided to go and buy some presents for my couchsurfing hosts. I found some cheesy magnets and chopsticks and then proceeded to wander around. There were about 12 hours still before my flight to Phnom Penh.

Almost immediately, I saw a big group of people milling about in the park. I asked if they spoke English, and lucky enough, it was a huge gathering of an English club. They invited me to stay with them and of course, they broke out thousands of glow sticks and light up bunny ears and devil horns. We all walked down the river together where they planned to perform some music. Almost as soon as they put down their speakers, some bylaw officers came on scene to break it up. I guess it looked too much like a protest. There were some words exchanged and the group members were very agitated by the whole thing.

"It's always like this, we can never do anything fun," one of them said to me.

Oh well, we walked back to the park and they had their concert there instead. I had to go at 11:30 p.m. because I didn't want to miss the last subway to the airport. I saw the countdown for NYE by looking over the shoulder of a teenager sitting beside me as he watched from his cell phone on the hard metal seats.

I waited around the rest of the night in the departures lounge, where I had to wear every single piece of clothing, not only because I wanted to make the 5kg weight restriction, but also so that I didn't descend into hypothermia.

When the plane finally came I was dead tired. I slept the whole way to Phnom penh and bought my visa on arrival.

As soon as you walk out of the airport, a hundred pushy taxi drivers try to get you to give them $10 for a taxi ride. Ummm, no. So, I just started walking, I turned right, and there was a city bus stop not too far away. Not a mention about this in my Lonely Planet. Less than 50 cents fare, and I found myself in on the riverfront. I tried to find one hostel, but it didn't exist, plus it was a street full of sex workers filled with those gross old men we know all too well. Hunched over, balding, with leathery tanned skin, looking for their next young opportunity (victim?). Awful.

So I walked till I found another hostel $6.50 for a bed at 88 Backpackers near the US embassy. Not bad. I snoozed all day and went to Mok Mony for some betel leaves stuffed with beef. Delicious, but I think it caused my intestinal tract to explode the next day. I had some beers and some morning glory later, so it could've also been that. My money's on the meat though.

Lassi and kebabs

Lassi and kebabs


Macro and tea

Macro and tea


Macro and tea

Macro and tea


"Smile" function

"Smile" function


So many glow sticks

So many glow sticks


Central market, Phnom Penh

Central market, Phnom Penh


New waterproof camera

New waterproof camera


Betel leaf beef

Betel leaf beef

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

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

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

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

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

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

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

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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