Maria Holland

Anything With Legs But A Table…

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Today’s blog is written by Dad (John) – so sit back and enjoy!

We got up and packed our suitcases, because today we sadly said goodbye to Xiamen, our favorite city in China.  I say this with sincerity even though this is the only city we have visited so far.  We have a feeling it will always be our favorite city, even after we visit other places.  Our tour guide, Maria, came to our hotel to help us check out.  Just before we jumped in the taxi for the ride to the airport, she bought us breakfast-to-go:  pork dumplings that Cissy said tasted like chicken soup.  Go figure…  I ate some leftover pomelo (grapefruit-like, but not so sour, a lot bigger, and less messy).

Had no problems checking bags at Xiamen International Airport (“XMN” is its ICAO airport code, so you have it for your next trip), then moved upstairs to go through security and head to the gate.  We laughed at a display of prohibited items, two of which Maria has apparently tried to smuggle through during previous trips:  magnets, and a tank made out of bullets (don’t laugh; it was a present for me, and it now sits proudly on a shelf at home).  We then went through the same security screening as in the States, including ID check, remove coats and metal objects, declare and show computer, and finally have our carry-on bags x-rayed.  Cis and Maria made it through, but not me.  Since I’m a garret trooper, I had a tiny multi-purpose tool in my backpack…“a little bitty one that’s a combination flare gun, dinner set, and genuine police whistle.” (props to SSgt Barry Sadler, may he rest in peace.)  Well, apparently such a weapon is not allowed, because everything came to a screeching halt when it showed up on the x-ray of my bag.  It must have been one of those “object-appear-closer-in-the-x-ray” screens because the blade couldn’t have been more than two inches long, if that, but they dug it out of the bag and made me stand in the corner, head hung in shame, while three or four of them discussed what to do with it (and me).  I felt like I was in a scene from Alice’s Restaurant:  “Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage.”  We finally avoided further escalation by offering to put the tool in one of our backpacks and checking it through, so Maria disappeared for twenty minutes to take care of this for us.  After this, the one-hour flight from Xiamen to Guangzhou was pleasant and uneventful.


Upon arrival in Guangzhou, we retrieved our three bags (plus backpack with multi-purpose tool), and caught a bus into the city.  Denise, one of Maria’s Chinese friends from XiaDa, arranged for her cousin to act as our tour guide in Guangzhou, so June met us and we rode the subway together towards our hotel.  Not all the way to the hotel, unfortunately, because the last segment of our trip was a half-mile walk through bustling downtown Guangzhou, each carrying a backpack and pulling a large suitcase. 


June is 19 years old, and happens to be back in her hometown on break from college.  She spoke excellent English and was delightful, and I liked her a lot because she thought I was funny and charming!  When we checked into the Hanting Hotel, where they asked us if we wanted to join their frequent-stay club.  We declined…

Let me pause from the travelogue to tell you a bit about Guangzhou.  This sprawling city of 12 million people is the third largest metropolitan area in China, behind Beijing and Shanghai.  It lies at the mouth of the Pearl River, the third longest river in China, which flows from the Himalayan Mountains eastward until it spills into the South China Sea.  The city was formerly known as Canton, but was officially named Guangzhou in 1918.  The area is known for its varied cuisine, and Maria told us about a saying:  “Cantonese will eat anything with wings except a plane, and anything with legs except a table.”  This should have been a warning of what was to follow, but I just thought it was cute at the time.

After resting in the room awhile, June took us to a typical Cantonese restaurant, and ordered three dishes for us.  The lunch, as we would say in Minnesota, was “different”.  The first dish was boiled turnips, and it went downhill from there.  The second was tripe-and-rice-noodle soup (tripe is cow stomach, if you don’t know), and the third dish was a wonderful broth containing large pieces of gelatinous pigs’ blood.  I have a weak stomach and generally don’t talk about blood while I’m eating (or pigs), and rarely talk about pig’s blood while eating same-same.  But I dutifully tried them all, followed by copious amounts of Coke.  Followed by gagging…  Needless to say, this meal was not on my China bucket list, but I quickly added it to my list, then crossed it off so I never have to eat it again!


Our last adventure of the day was a ninety-minute boat ride on the Pearl River, which June arranged for us although she did not accompany us.  The river is beautiful at night because it is flanked by many tall buildings which are covered with blinking lights.  We rode several miles up and down the river, enjoying a another (less exotic) meal of rice and chicken. 


Finally, back to our hotel and bed.  Tomorrow we’ll sightsee more in Guangzhou with June-Bug, and undoubtedly enjoy more delicious Cantonese cuisine.  Can’t wait!

By the way, for our younger readers, please be sure to Google and learn more about “Garret Trooper” and “Alice’s Restaurant” if you have not heard of them.  These are two cultural icons of the 1960s, and they belong in your knowledge base.

  1. Your Dad should guest post more often! And I love Alice’s Restaurant! And yeah pigs blood soup is right up there with pigs intestine grilled to perfection…yuck!

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