GUANGZHOU, GUANGDONG PROVINCE — I spent a little more than two weeks touring southern China this long winter holiday, and Guangzhou was the first stop outside Hunan.
Originally, my friend Sophia and I had planned to meet in her hometown of Hengyang to travel together to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but she had to attend a relative’s wedding in the countryside, so I ended up spending one night in Changsha, and catching a train to Hengyang the following day. We then proceeded to Guangzhou, where she stayed with an old friend from high school and I stayed in a hotel near my friends there.
Let me introduce my companions. All three were English education majors and among my first students in China. Dee (below) returned to Jishou University briefly to earn a bachelor’s degree in Business English, but financial considerations required her to abandon those plans and get a job. All three work in foreign trade at different companies, Dee and Sarah as sales people and Mary (at left and also below) as a receptionist/translator. I arrived on a Sunday, so they were free to hang out.
Dee and Mary met me first at the train station and we took the metro to meet Sarah, who had some ideas of where I could stay. Booking the hotel took some effort. Ctrip.com offered a discounted price, but the desk clerk at the Springtime Hotelcouldn’t offer the same price over the counter. So, we had to wait while I booked a room using the hotel’s WiFi using my cellphone. Then, we discovered I had misread the Chinese on Ctrip’s mobile website and had booked two rooms for one night, instead of one room for two nights. That required Sarah to call Ctrip and change the booking.
Once that was taken care of, we deliberated about where to go for dinner and what to do afterward. Sarah asked me if I had ever seen the Canton Tower. I hadn’t, so that settled matterss.
Although I’ve been to Guangzhou at least four times, somehow I never visited the Canton Tower, one of the city’s big tourist attractions. We decided to grab dinner in a big subterranean shopping area in the Tianhe district and then go see the Tower. By that time, it was late evening.
Here’s Dee’s photo of me “holding” the Canton Tower.
Naturally, we took turns photographing each other, because this is China. Here’s one with Sarah, Dee and I, taken by Mary.
Here are three other shots from that evening.
The tower on the right is the West Tower, the International Financial Center, the East Tower, the CTF CEntre, contains the corporate offices of the Chow Tai Fook jewelery company. Both are in Huacheng Square adjacent to the Canton Tower.
Incidentally, you can visit the observation platforms in the Canton Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city, but it’s a little expensive. Also, it was late and foggy, so we skipped that visit. Here’s a panorama from the Canton Tower website, though.
Monday was a work day for Mary, Dee and Sarah. So I was left to my own devices. I puttered around the neighborhood of my hotel, having lunch al fresco at the McDonald’s next door. (It was about 75 degrees F that day). While I ate and noodled on the Internet, a grandfather came by pushing his grandchild in a stroller. They sat for a while to rest, and I took these two photos.
Liu is also a photographer, and has decided to emulate Brandon Stanton, originator of Humans of New York. Liu photographs three people and provides a little biography of them on his WeChat feed. I was number 66 in his photoblog.
The text reads, “Number 66: I’ve been in China six years. I’m from New York, but I still get lost there. Now I teach in a small city in Hunan, at Jishou University. It’s very good there.”
And with that, I’ll end this post.
NEXT: Shenzhen and what we found there