Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jye ... nice to know you .. :p