Thursday, February 26, 2009

Culture, History, Animal and Shopping : Day 2 - Still In Guangzhou

Our day started with a visit to Chen Jia Ci (Chen Family Clan Memorial Temple), located nearby a Metro station with the same name.

As we walked from the Metro station to the building, we came across a group of people doing what Chinese like to do in their favourite past time.

1. Tai Chi, and....

2. Kicking feather (I don't know if this is the correct word to describe the game or not)

Chen Jia Ci was also known as Guangdong Folk Art Museum. Will not explain much on the building. Try googling out for more info.

View from outside the building
The main entrace
The open courtyard
The back garden

Our next destination was to visit Guangzhou Zoo. I had a look on their website and it showed a lot of attractions in it. It was known as the second largest zoo in Southern China. Panda, not suprisingly, was one of the star attraction. Apart from that, there was also section on Australian animals. Koala, kangaroo, and some other natives animals which can only be found in Australia were displayed here. Now, that really captured my attention. Oh, I just can't wait to reach there!

We decided to take bus from Chen Jia Ji to Guangzhou Zoo. While on our way over, the bus passes by a very interesting place. From the main road, the building looked very grand from afar. Jye's sharp eye saw the wording on the main archway.

"Dr Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall"

Oh!! We just had to dropped by that place at all cost! Who wouldn't want to pay a visit to the see the Father of Modern China? We stopped by the nearest bus stop.

Statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen with the majestic memorial hall in the background

The building was built in year 1929 to commemorate the founder of China. Some of the history of the building can be found here, here and here.

After the walk down one of the most important historical place in Chinese history, we decided to take a bus to our destination - Zoo!! While we were on the bus, we saw another nice building nearby. Again, Jye's sharp eyes did not fail me. The bus stop we passed by was called "Wong Tai Sin Temple". We quickly got off at the next bus stop and walked over.

Wishing Tree
Wishing Wheel

It was nearly 1pm plus and time to fill our stomach. No specific idea on what to eat, but we ended up eating at a Chinese Muslim restaurant. Of all places, we managed to land ourselves in this restaurant.

To our suprise, the food here was very nice! Not to mention, cheap and big portion too!
For a moment, it came across my mind to try out similar business here in Malaysia. I think with the taste, it would appeal to various races in a multi racial country in Bolehland. Oh well, maybe I will consider it when I get kicked off from job pretty soon. The oil price and economy downturn is killing my company, and the chopping board will come to me very soon. Peddling at pasar malam would be good, i think.

After lunch, and a half hour later, we managed to reach our destination.
First stop, aviary section.

And water animals...

And herbivore area...
Chomp chomp chomp!
And canine section..

Big Bad Wolf in a cage

After a brisk walk around the zoo, we proceed to the main attraction - Panda
But alas, no panda were to be found at the area. I couldn't help but to feel that I was ripped off.

Then at the Australian section, all we see is this.

One very pathetic kangaroo

And no koala at sight! What a blardee rip off! So much for an Australian section!

BBW, you are a sucker!! Muahahahahahah...

After the Zoo, we grabbed a bus and dropped ourselves off at Gongyuanqian (literally translated, Garden Front). Had dinner at KFC. After that, we walked to Beijing Road (Bei Jing Lu, in Mandarin). It's a well known pedestrian street in Guangzhou. People everywhere, and much more than the night before. Unlike Shang Xia Jiu Lu, this place was more vibrant and colourful, thanks to the neon lights around.

Try to count how many heads are there in this photo. The winner will get an all-paid-expense trip to Guangzhou sponsored by BBW

The time was almost twelve and we headed back to our hostel.
Captured some night scenery along the Pearl River.

Near Miss... And Day 1 In Guangzhou

After bunking in a Jason’s house for a night, me took a cab from his house to KL Sentral at 2.45am. I would meet up with Jye there. Just in case you wondering who Jye is, she was the one who joined me for this trip. We intended to catch the earliest Aerobus from KL Sentral to LCCT, which was at 3.30am. Thought that my timing would be perfect as the distance was barely 20km away (Sri Damansara to KL Sentral). There couldn’t be traffic jam at this hour of the night, I reckon. I calculated that the journey will take only 30 mins. One thing I missed out was that I did not take into account of Murphy’s rule. When things could go wrong, IT WILL GO WRONG! The cab was hauled up by at a JPJ roadblock while we were on the way. Apparently the taxi driver’s license had expired, and he was issued a summon. on the spot. Knowing how local JPJ officers worked, the process of issuing the red paper was almost half an hour! Productivity would have dropped to super low. After all, it was in the wee morning hours. Not enuff sleep ma!

That barger dropped me KL Sentral at 3.35am, and I was 5 mins late to board the first bus! We had to board the second bus which was half hour later. Darn it! Reached LCCT at 5.10am, and we quickly rushed to check in. Goodness gracious, the check-in counter were about to be closed in the next few minutes! We barely reached there in the nick of time. After checking in, we dashed to the departure gate, and yes, we were the last to board the flight. The plane took off a few minutes later. Phew! That blardee stoopid taxi driver almost caused us to miss the flight. I dreaded to think of the worst case scenario.

Plane heading north. Guangzhou, here I come!!

Anyway, 4 hours after taking off, we reached Guangzhou airport. Everywhere was Chinese characters. English wording was almost non existence. I could swear that I have landed mself in an uncharted territory. I can only read a handful of Chinese wordings, and it wasn’t helpful at all! Although I can speak Mandarin, my level of comprehension/speak was at best useful only in rojak conversations in Malaysia. Thankfully, Cantonese language was used widely in Guangzhou district, so it did provide me a sense of relief. But when you see all around was Chinese characters and none in languages which were familiar to you, to be frank, it can be really scary and beats all the confidence out of you. And to think that I will be spending the next 5 days in China, I could swear that I do feel frightened at that moment of time.

But thank God, Jye was Mandarin-literated. She has been a very good guidance and help throughout the journey, not just in Guangzhou, but also in HK and Macau as well. Wait for upcoming posting on these places!

Anyway, we then took a bus from the airport to Guangzhou Main Railway Station, which was 45 minutes away.

Guangzhou Railway Station

Then we proceed to take Light Rail Transit which is 10 mins walking distance away (It is known as Metro, in Guangzhou) to Fangcun station. Their Metro station was very clean, and the trains were punctual and very frequent. We waited for just a couple of minutes before the arrival of the train. Connectivity from one line to another line was very good, and one can easily navigate their way through (provided he/she knows where they intend to go). There was English wording on each of the station, so it is not that bad for me.

Metro Station (yellow line). Notice the Gung An (police) standing nearby? Their presence are almost everywhere at all public areas in Guangzhou. I feel more secure here than in KL.

Anyway, I managed to book our accommodation at Riverside YHA (YHA = Youth Hostel Association) via online website earlier (try or, which was located 10 mins away from Fangcun station. From the website and the visitor's review, it seems that the hostel was not that bad. It was not a posh and high quality hotel, but more like hostel meant for backpackers and budget travellers like us. Simple room with air conditioner, common living room, internet access, laundry (Very cheap, only RMB 8 per wash load, but its D.I.Y). Here are some photos of the room and the surrounding area.

Cozy living room with a mini bar

Upon checking in, we had a quick lunch and made our way to the jetty nearby. Our first destination was to visit Shamian Island, across the Pearl River. This small little island was situated just opposite the jetty, only 5 mins by boat. Cost only RMB 0.50 per trip, which translates to about RM 0.25. How blardee cheap!! I am still intrigued by how the operator profit from this super low fare price.

View of the city across Pearl River from the jetty

Anyway, some brief history on Shamian island. This place was designated to be a living quarter for the colonial Europeans. If one is familiar with Chinese history, European colonies (English, French, German, just to name a few) had wanted to break into Chinese trade, especially into Guangzhou as it was a well known port in the past. The Chinese didn’t like the Europeans and in fact despise them to the point of calling them “white ghost” (gwai lou, in Cantonese). However, due to the weak Chinese government at that time (wide spread corruption and internal power struggling) created opportunity for the Europeans to break into the country and took part in the lucrative trade. The Guangzhou government had to submit to the humiliation. Eventually, they had to allow the Europerans to build their base here, and Shamian Island was allocated to British and French. Hence, the buildings on the island had characteristic of neo-colonial Europeans architectural. Some of the buildings were nearly 200 years of history and well preserved. Suprisingly, these buildings are still occupied by private owners. Some are still used as home, some are used for business and a few were turned into exhibitions hall.

Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, a French Catholic Church

One thing we found out in the short trip here was that, this place was popular among the bride-bridegroom-to-be. We encountered more than five couples taking wedding photo shots around the area. I do agree with the selection of place as I found the place beautiful too.

After Shamian Island, we proceeded to YueXiu Park, a very famous garden smacked in the city of Guangzhou. We were lucky as our trip was only a few days after Chap Goh Meh, so the new year decorations are still around to greet us. We were greeted by the animal of the year, oxen.

The park was well preserved and well maintained. Very clean, and not a single cigarette butt to be found here. I swear that I saw a lady sweeping fallen leaves every few minutes. Labours are cheap here, I suppose.

Rock carving are aplenty here too.

And the highlight of the park is the Statue of The Five Rams.

And this one too - Monument of Father of Modern China, Dr Sun Yat Sen.

And the scene from one of the old Chinese fairytale.

And this one is the Monument of Reading. Notice a man slanting against the monument? He was actually reading there.

One thing very funny in China was their English translation. I believe most of you would have read about this through forwarded mails. So, it's not suprising for me to encounter one too. I just had to capture this funny scene.

It was almost 7pm when we left Yuexiu Park. We headed to Shang Xia Jiu Lu (Up Down Nine Road, literally translated) which was nearby. It was a well known pedestrian market street, and I tell you, the place bustled with people! I can't believe my eyes as the number of people there can easily put KL's Chinatown to shame. I just can't help wondering where did all the people came from? The street was wide and spacious, unlike the KL's Chinatown. Clothes, sports shoes, jewelery, food (yummy!!), toiletries, you name it. You can find them here.

After walking down the street of more than 1km long, my leg started to give way. Headed back to hostel for a good night rest before continuing the journey tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And Now, I Am Flying.....

I have always been an ardent fan of Air Asia. I simply love their business model; no-frills air flight, skimpy stewardess uniform, affordable air fare, sexy air stewardess, aggressive expansion, curvaceous body of air stewardess, catchy promotion, beautiful air stewardess uniform, creative idea, etc; and I especially adore their catchy slogan “Now everyone can fly”. I certainly took my first maiden flight with Air Asia, courtesy of Mr Tony Fernandez and his brilliant idea – Zero Fare Campaign. That was 2 and half years ago, with Keane and Yaw Choy to Bang-cock and Chiang Mai (read here)

Fast forward to year 2009, and here I am, back afresh from a 10 days trip. This time, thanks again to the all-time-favourite-campaign, I managed to grab myself a tix. My destination this time was to fly from KL to Guangzhou, then move on to Shenzhen, Hong Kong and finally Macau, before heading back to KL. Total air fare is RM338.70 (RM154.50 for KL-Guangzhou; RM 184.20 for Macau-KL). The promotion was held in May 2008, where the oil price is nearing the peak. Hence, fuel surcharge was imposed at that time. Otherwise, the air fare could have been cheaper. Oh well, it was still a bargain. Where can one find such low fare ticket on this world?

Keane was supposed to join in for the trip. But alas, due to some personal commitment, he had no choice but to pull out last minute. Darn! That would mean I would be back-packing, alone.

But that was not meant to be. Perhaps Keane’s pulling out was a blessing in disguise. I found another companion for the trip. That person proved to be a fun and valuable companion in the upcoming trip. You will understand why once I blogged more on my trip later. In the meantime, I can't blog much on my trip as I am waiting for my worthy companion to deliver the digital photos to me. Updates on trip shall be posted once I got my hands on those photos.

Oh well, time to watch "Man of Honour", one of my favourite movie of all time. Blog later..

To be continued......