Maria Holland

Posts Tagged ‘Guangzhou’

Glad They Got To See Me!

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 at 1:15 am

Today – as we emerged from the subway, walked under the shady bridge, and caught sight of the coffee shop – I realized that this trip has been more of a milestone than I originally thought.  In addition to seeing pre-Xiamen friends for the first time, I’m also returning to someplace in China for the first time.  Besides coming home to Xiamen after trips, I haven’t been to any place twice in China since I’ve been studying Chinese.  The places I visit go in the journal, in the camera, in my mind . . . and stay there.  Visiting them again draws these memories out and forces them to confront reality.  In a foreign country, where so much of the experience is dictated by your language skills (which are always changing), this confrontation is interesting.

Our destination was right next to the coffee shop.  In my memory, it was “the hotel next to the coffee shop”.  In reality, it has a name – 华夏酒店.  Who woulda thought?  Both my memory and reality placed the restaurant on the second floor, and both involved an enormous room filled with tables of loud Chinese people eating dim sum.  My memory of the dim sum was vivid, but contained absolutely no Chinese related to the food.  This made ordering fun . . . For the first time in months, I found myself pointing to other people’s food and saying “We want that!” 

I did okay – we got the sopapillas, soup baozi, and jiaozi – but my attempt to get sweet sesame balls returned instead a zebra-colored gelatin with basically no flavor.  You win some, you lose some!  I was pretty pleased overall, though, especially when Pat remarked with surprise: “None of that was bad!”  This is basically my goal in life, to show people how delicious and cheap it can be to eat Chinese food in China. 

This afternoon we went souvenir shopping on the island.  Despite the fact that the US Consulate is no longer on Shamian island, the adoption process is completely centered there.  All adopting families stay on the island and a variety of services have sprung up to take care/advantage of the new parents.  Picture stores filled with shirts that say Mom, Dad, Big Brother, Little Sister, etc. in Chinese, and a man who writes the kids’ names in English and Chinese for free.  The prices were pretty reasonable, though, and Eva and I make a good bargaining team (with my language skills and her backbone) so we did alright.

For dinner, we went back to the place with the sawdust eggplant that Carson had been raving about since we ate yesterday. 

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We followed that up with ice cream at the 7-11.  I passed on the Magnum bars to try milk-tea flavored ice cream, which tasted just like you’d imagine milk tea ice cream to taste like – freaking delicious.  I also got a Slurpee there earlier today!  Most amazing Slurpee of my life – I mean, it tasted just like they do in America, but it was in China which is amazing. 

I could tell Shan was excited tonight.  I think he’s happy about going to America, but also he was looking forward to seeing a friend of his from the orphanage.

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She was just adopted by an American family on April 6th (the day before her 14th birthday) and they just got to Guangzhou this evening.  We met up with their family – mom, dad, 4 natural kids and two adopted – in the hallway and talked for a few hours. 

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They all speak a little bit of Chinese and have been to China several times before, but I was surprised to hear that they’ve basically had the same experience as my friends.  One of the greatest incentives to learning Chinese is that freedom is directly proportional to language skills.  As I get better and better at Mandarin, I am more and more able to go where I want, buy things I want, eat what I want – and pay what I want.  In my complete naivete concerning adoptions, I guess I figured that it would be somewhat similar.  I’d probably still have to hire a translator and people to help me with the paperwork but I’d find a cheaper, more convenient hotel, and would get around with public transportation.  Apparently, this is not possible.  LAME.

Their flight is early tomorrow morning and my only goal is to eat breakfast before it stops at 10:30, so we said goodnight and goodbye.  It’s been really great to see them, and I’m sure glad they got to see me :) 

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Memory Lane Is As Hazy As Any Other Street In China

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I should have had class this morning and this afternoon, but instead woke up leisurely in my incredibly plush bed.  There’s not even much guilt about missing classes; our teachers have this concept of 请假, or asking for vacation, where basically there seems to be no penalties as long as you let them know beforehand.  I texted my teachers to tell them that I had some friends visiting Guangzhou and I wanted to go see them, and their response was literally “Go without any worries!  I know it about it now, have a safe trip!”  Sweet; I plan to.

I met Pat and Eva downstairs for 西式早餐 (Western breakfast), which included some amazing croissants, the first sliced deli meat I’d seen in China, and the best bacon I’d had in over 7 months.  The rest of the guests at our hotel seem to be other families adopting Chinese kids, and we talked to another family over breakfast who happened to be from Minnesota, and adopting from Xiamen!  It’s interesting hanging out with the adopting crowd, which leaves one major species of ex-pat mostly unknown to me.  I’m familiar with the NGOs, the students, the backpackers, and the adoptive parents, but still haven’t had much contact with people who come to China to work.

There were no big plans for the day and the boys were still asleep, so we went up to my room and I let Eva use my computer.  We Skyped with Sheryl (my aunt and Eva’s friend) and Garret and she checked email while I read.  Pat had given me a book about volunteering in China and I skimmed that, reading stories about heroes of the earthquake relief effort in ‘08.  I do agree that it seems like China is finally developing a sense of volunteerism, but the presentation of the stories was quite ridiculous.  It made me think of an article I just read on the most commonly-used sentences in Chinese children’s essays; I guess after hearing so much propaganda it’s easy to come up with your own.  Wonderful examples include:

  • Today I picked up a dime on the ground, gave it to police uncle . . . I was indescribably happy . . . the police uncle praised me, I was so happy that I jumped three feet high
  • At that moment, uncle Lei Feng’s image appeared in my mind . . . I lifted up my favorite piggy bank, smashed it and donated all the coins to the children in disaster areas
  • All this made Chen Guangbiao a most endearing hero in the eyes of many people.
  • As food and potable water were in short supply, he was reluctant to even take a sip of water or a small share of bun for himself.

Not as bad as North Korean propaganda, but still a little sickening sweet after a few pages. 

Pat and Eva took Shan to the US Consulate this afternoon to take an oath, leaving Carson and I to our own devices.  I took him to get a haircut and a delightfully seedy barbershop, and it turned out better than I dared to hope.

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We had lunch in a Chinese place near the hotel; it felt so good to use chopsticks again.  We had crazy delicious breaded garlic eggplant and 盐水鸭, which is unappetizingly translated as cold salty duck. 

When the others got back from the consulate, though, they were ready to eat dinner, so we headed out again.  I wanted to take them to the site of my parents’ favorite Guangzhou meal, so I had the driver take us to the church that it was near.  In my memory, the restaurant was dead ahead upon stepping out of the church, but in reality it was about a block down the street to the left.  Funny . . . I wonder how much my memories of Hunchun actually bear any resemblance to reality.

The exact directions might be a bit hazy, but the food was just as good as I remembered it.  They were out of duck but we got a full serving of the goose that disappeared from the plate pretty quickly.  Pat loved the spicy shrimp I ordered, Eva really liked the 红烧茄子 (broiled eggplant), and Shan declared the pork ribs in sauce his favorite – so I’d say the meal was generally a hit.

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Hey, I’m In . . . Guangzhou!

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 12:44 am

The trip from Xiamen to Guangzhou was so smooth, you’d almost think I’ve done it before.  Oh wait . . . I have.  But still, if I may say so myself, I managed the flight, bus, and two taxis like a pro, door-to-door in under 5 hours for $100. 

My friends are staying in a nice hotel and graciously booked me a room there as well.  From the second the doorman (!) opened the door for me while a bellhop (!) grabbed my bag, I knew I was stepping out of the taxi and into the lap of luxury.  I don’t stay in places like this when I travel; most of the places I’ve stayed at in China don’t even come with towels . .. so yes, the cushy bed and shower door (!) are a very pleasant surprise.

After dropping off my things, I went upstairs to see my friends.  I was greeted by a hug, a Southern drawl, and a familiar face – all things hard to come by in this part of the world.  We had lunch together in the hotel – the parents, Pat and Eva, their younger son Carson (a tree!) and their new Chinese son Shan – and had a chance to catch up a little bit.

Shan just celebrated his 14th birthday a few days ago; the adoption process was relatively last-minute as these things go because children cannot be adopted after they turn 14.  His parents died when he was 10 and 11 and he’d been living in an orphanage in northeastern China since then.  He’s rather quiet but talked to me a little bit in Chinese after a few hours – we totally bonded over our identical electronic dictionaries.  Carson started self-studying Mandarin when they decided to adopt a few months ago and, while he’s done really well considering the time and lack of Chinese environment, I think he communicates with Shan even better than me.  A lot of the time it’s not even verbal – there’s just something about the physical relationship between two brothers.  They exchange smiles, poke and tickle each other, and play little games all the time. 

The family is in Guangzhou finishing up the paperwork before taking Shan home to America.  It’s a task I certainly don’t envy them – I had developed an intense loathing for Chinese red tape even before I saw their piles of papers and heard their stories.  But they got their daily task done in the early afternoon and we went out to explore town a little bit.

Last time I was in Guangzhou, a friend of mine acted as our tour guide; today, that lot fell to me.  We checked out the Chinese medicine market (row after row, floor after floor, building after building, of ginseng and sliced antler), some street food (none of which I could get Carson to try), and a large pedestrian mall. 

We found a Papa John’s and, after they saw my reaction to it, decided to eat there . . . but it was closed!  We ate at a sort-of Chinese restaurant instead.  (I say sort-of because we were issued silverware instead of chopsticks.  Today may have been the first day I’ve gone without using chopsticks since coming to China!)  Most of the food was good but the Caesar salad had cornflakes on top and Carson’s drink bore a downright eerie resemblance to the murky water of the Pearl River. 

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I really failed on the picture front today; I took exactly one photo (pictured above).  I am heartily (or hardly?) sorry and promise to do better tomorrow. 

The Trip in Review

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2010 at 12:54 am

I know we wrote a lot about the trip, but I think a little wrap-up is in order.  Here’s the big picture:

Trip

We went to 8 cities:

  1. Xiamen
  2. Guangzhou
  3. Wuhan
  4. Chengdu
  5. LeShan
  6. EmeiShan
  7. Xi’An
  8. Beijing. 

This included 5 provinces and one municipality:

  • Fujian
  • Guangdong
  • Hubei
  • Sichuan
  • Shaanxi
  • Beijing

We checked a lot of things off the must-do-in-China list:

  • visited Xiamen’s peaceful Gulangyu Island
  • ate dim sum in Guangzhou
  • ate hot pot in Sichuan
  • saw the Giant Pandas
  • saw the world’s largest Buddha in LeShan
  • climbed (well, kind of) Emeishan, one of China’s sacred mountains
  • seeing the Sea of Clouds (at least for me!)
  • saw the Army of Terracotta Soldiers in Xi’An
  • witnessed the flag-raising at Tiananmen Square
  • climbed the Great Wall
  • ate Peking duck in Peking

We also had a few other special experiences:

  • dinner with my priests and future bishop
  • two beautiful Xiamen sunsets
  • Dad’s pingpong matches
  • riding the world’s fastest train
  • that hour spent with the young pandas and their caretaker
  • amazing massages and even acupuncture for Dad
  • being driven around Xi’An’s major sites by our new friend and volunteer chauffeur
  • sledding down the Great Wall!
  • leaving a note at Google China headquarters
  • meeting all sorts of military people, including a Korean who served with the US Army, a Chinese cadet, and an major in the Chinese artillery
  • narrowly avoiding disaster three times (two bus crashes and a rockslide)
  • going to Mass in three beautiful churches and getting to see a few others
  • riding every form of transportation with thousands of our closest friends

The trip lasted 22 days (plus a few days of travel to and from for my parents) and, besides their international flights, cost just over $3,000.  The trains and planes that got us around China cost $250 a person, we spent about $300 on souvenirs, postage, and donations (and massages), and our daily expenses (food, lodging, tourism, and local transportation) were about $100 each day for all three of us. 

I think my parents were pleased with the trip; I know I had a great time.  If I had the chance to do it again, I would only make small changes.  I wouldn’t go to Emeishan – save a couple hundred dollars and go to smaller, less sacred mountain.  I would allow an extra day in Xi’An so that things weren’t so rushed.  Other than that, I was basically the perfect tour guide.  Right, parents??

Leavin’ on a Jet Train

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm

We saw a lot of China today.  The day began with an hour-long taxi ride from our hotel in the middle of Guangzhou to the new train station way out in the middle of nowhere.  It was my parents’ first prolonged drive through a Chinese city, and we were all entertained by what we saw out the windows.  The average Chinese street in any town consists of little store after little store after little store, either selling every possible incarnation of one product, or the most random assortment of crap you’ve ever seen.  For instance, one particularly memorable street we drove by had two (TWO) stores selling all kinds of safes, and one selling towel racks of every shape and size.

Another interesting sight is the use of motorbikes in China.  I was going to make a list of things that we’ve seen carried on motorbikes, but like the list of things softer than my bed, it is the universal set.  A dozen Culligan-style water bottles, a few tanks of propane, sheetrock, a TV . . . anything goes.  Anything an American can do with an SUV, a Chinese family does with a motorbike.  I think there are more bikes carrying 2+ people in China than there are cars carrying 2+ people in America. 

The highlight of the day was the train ride – on the world’s FASTEST train, to be specific.  The CRH Guangzhou-Wuhan high speed railway just opened on the 26th of December, and it is still shiny and clean (even the bathroom) when we boarded. 

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The boarding process was easy, the acceleration was smooth, and before we knew it we were shooting north along the Chinese countryside at 352 km/hr (220 mph)! 

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At this speed, you can miss whole Chinese villages if you blink.  I tried to stay awake, but every time I dozed off for a few minutes, I probably missed whole provinces.  We saw a lot though – mountains, rivers, little villages, people tending fields, kids playing soccer, and stereotypical rice paddies with requisite water buffalo.  The scenery out the window was a little bit blurry (especially when photographed) so the main impression we were left with was gray. 

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It might have been part fog, but it must have been at least part haze.  Either way, it was so pervasive that I feel like I’ve forgotten what a blue sky looks like. 

The train station where we got off in Wuhan was also newly built, and pretty much staggering in scope.

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I think it’s also a little ways from Wuhan city proper, because we rode a bus for over an hour before getting to the main train station.  By this time it was around 4:00 and we basically hadn’t eaten all day, so we grabbed some fried bread from a street vendor.  It was my parents’ first time eating real street food in China, and it was appreciated all around.

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We found a hotel nearby – 速8, or Super 8.  It’s way nicer than any Super 8 in America though; they even have the sand in their ashtrays stamped into the shape of their logo.  The room is nice and roomy, probably because we’re now officially card-carrying Super 8 Motel VIPs.  Yes, that’s right, we now have ‘people’ in China, and they’re taking good care of us. 

After trying unsuccessfully [again] to buy train tickets for the next leg of the trip, we went to dinner.  Some Wuhan specialty vegetable, beef and green peppers, and an entire chicken.  The chicken was fabulously delicious but Mom was a little bit annoyed when she accidentally bit into the head . . . haha.

The other main reason I wanted to come to Wuhan (besides it being the final destination of this train) was because Wuhan University is said to be China’s second most beautiful campus.  As a student at China’s MOST beautiful university, I was hoping to walk around and make pointed comments like, “Man, this campus is really beautiful.  Of course, it doesn’t have anything on XiaDa, but I can see why people would call it the second-most beautiful campus.”  Alas, that was not to be as the university turned out to be an hour from our hotel by taxi.  My parents say it was punishment for my prideful thoughts :(

Instead, we finished the day by strolling around a Chinese supermarket.  We bought snacks for tomorrow – the distinctly non-Chinese Alpenliebe candies, Aleid’s magically delicious dried Vietnam jackfruit chips, Danish butter cookies – and I introduced my father to the wonders of Mengniu yogurt drinks. 

I would like to end with an addition to my list of ways in which my parents resemble small children on this trip:

  • They need help going to the bathroom
  • They’re always asking how long until we get to our destination
  • I give them spending money
  • I got to pick names for them
  • They learn new words every day

Guangzhou: Come For The Food, Stay For The Tour

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

We had a packed second day in Guangzhou, starting this morning at 9:00.  June (a local girl who is a friend of a friend, and our tour guide for the day) met us downstairs and we walked to a nearby hotel for “morning tea”.  I was not excited about this at all (because I don’t like tea – and yes, I’m aware that China is wasted on me) but was quickly won over.  Dim sum, the famous Cantonese food, is breakfast fare.  It’s basically a bunch of snacks – both sweet and savory, covering every spectrum of color, shape, and flavor.  We had rice dough and rice noodles stuffed with a mixture of chopped meat and vegetables, a honey-coated crisp that strongly resembled sopapilla, shrimp dumplings, two kinds of egg tarts, and sweet doughy balls stuffed with sweet sesame cream and covered in a peanut powder.  The only parts that weren’t great were made two dishes made with taro and radish, which I don’t like. 

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After eating our fill, we went to the train station to buy our tickets.  We successfully (though not without hassle) bought tickets on the world’s fastest train, leaving Guangzhou tomorrow at 10:50 and arriving in Wuhan three hours later.  We were unsuccessful, however, in buying tickets from Chengdu to Xi’An for a week from now.  Sometimes I really hate China, or at least can see nothing but things that I want to change about it – and this was one of those times.  We were at a huge train station in the third largest city in China, and we couldn’t use credit cards (even a Chinese bank card) to buy tickets.  You also can’t buy them online, but must buy them at a train station only within 10 days before the trip.  So even on a good day, it’s 麻烦 (big hassle) to buy train tickets, but it gets even more so during 春运 (the great migration associated with the Chinese New Year). 

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In addition to the ridiculous hordes of people that are trying to get from point A to point B (one of which you are inevitably at), they introduce new rules designed not to make your life easier, but to impede travel.  For instance – new rule, new rule – you can now only buy train tickets at the station of origin.  I’m getting slightly worried about the completion of our trip according to original plan and in my stress I want to get mad at something, but there really isn’t anything.  I heard the warnings but had to ignore them because, like every other Chinese resident, this is when my vacation is.  So, this is the situation we’re in – adventuring towards Beijing. 

After giving up on the Sichuan train tickets, we started touring.  We came to Guangzhou for two reasons (to eat and to take the train) but there is more than enough here to fill a day.  The first stop was YueXiu Park, the largest park in Guangzhou.  We walked through it for about a half hour, working our way uphill, enjoying the relative quiet away from Guangzhou’s crazy downtown.  Dad got to play badminton with some locals.

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One of the main attractions of the park is ZhenHai Tower, part of the old city wall, that currently houses a museum about ancient Guangzhou and offers a nice view of modern Guangzhou.  They also had an artist carving name stamps, so Mom bought one with her Chinese name, 马希茜 (or Ma XiXi).

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The other highlight of the park is the Five-Goat Statue.  According to ancient legend, five angels saw the distress of the starving residents of Guangzhou during a drought, and they descended from heaven on goats bearing rice stalks in their mouths, which saved the populace.  Now they are now honored as the founders of Guangzhou.

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The next stop was the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial, built to honor the Father of China.  It’s a beautiful memorial, well-kept and peaceful.  Sun Yat-Sen is an interesting figure because he is respected by both the Chinese on the mainland and in Taiwan.  I’ve also been to his memorial in Taibei and found them to be very similar.

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Then we went to the Chen Family Academy, a traditional Cantonese house built by the Chen’s for the pursuit of knowledge and artistic skill.  It’s not something I would have gone to based on the Lonely Planet description, but we all really loved it.  First of all, the building itself was beautiful. 

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But inside was even more amazing, each room housing an exhibit on some form of traditional Chinese art.  There was ridiculously detailed embroidery, palm fan folding, calligraphy, musical instruments, painting, and carvings out of every conceivable material.  We even got to watch one man work, painting landscapes with his hands.  The quality of the art was jaw-dropping, the skills displayed were mind-blowing, and the intricacies displayed made my brain hurt.

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The last stop on our Guangzhou tour was the Sacred Heart Cathedral.  To get there, we walked through a huge, crazy-busy wholesale market, where you could buy 2,000 of absolutely anything.  Then we turned a corner and there it was, a huge cathedral that could have been copy-pasted from Europe. 

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Their Mass schedule was pretty interesting, offering Sunday services in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and English (at 3:30 in the afternoon). 

After a long day that included a ton of walking, we were very happy to sit down for dinner.  It was truly amazing meal: shrimp wonton soup, a vegetable cooked with ginger and garlic, and a mixture of duck, chicken, and pork that ranks among the best meat I’ve had in China.  Mom and Dad loved it too.  I can’t describe how tasty the duck was, but I will tell you that we ordered another plate of it. :)

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Back in the hotel, after June left us for the evening, my parents watched some news while I wrote this.  Obviously, last week’s earthquake in Haiti has been making news all over the world, and China is no exception.  Apparently China had some troops over there as part of the UN peacekeeping force, and eight of them died in the quake.  Their bodies were just returned to China, and the memorial services have been all over the news.  It’s interesting how vocabulary can mirror the times, because since coming to China this year I’ve learned the Chinese names for Yemen (也门) and Haiti (海地). 

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.

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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. 

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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!

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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. 

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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.