Friday, June 10, 2011

lost in translation: Guangzhou adventure

September 2009, I had a chance to visit Guangzhou, China. As they say, every trip is memorable, every misadventure is worth remembering and so here's a list of  10 things/experiences in my Guangzhou trip.

1. Looooong trip
Philippines to Guangzhou and back only takes 2 hours air travel. But because we're availing our "free" tickets, we need to transit in KL and connect to Guangzhou in less than an hour! It's like an amazing race challenge, we we're frantically running inside the airport like lunatics. CRK-KUL 4 hours; KUL-CAN 4 hours; so much for a free ticket I guess.
left PH with the sun still up and arrived in GZ by sundown
2. Currency Exchange
Remember to change your peso or money before arriving at the destination or leaving the airport. I have high regard for Ringgit (RM) so instead of bringing USD's, what I brought were RM's  and a decent amount of Hong Kong dollars. I've done that in my trip to Cambodia, HK and Macao, so I thought I won't have a hard time exchanging my RM's but I was wrong. We arrived on a Saturday, banks are closed. Not all banks accept RM's but PHP are accepted widely. Lesson learned!

3. Taxis
We have pleasant experience with taxis except for one. Overall, most of taxi drivers we encountered were honest and disciplined. They issue receipts not only that they give back your change no matter how small it was.
para po!

a. upon arrival we hailed a cab at the airport, showed him the hotel address, he couldn't understand us but he has a 2-way radio. he radioed a translator. how cool is that?! :)

b. on our flight back, Mia left 1 of her bag inside the cab. good thing the cab issues receipt so we were able to get in touch with the taxi operator and the operator immediately called on the radio all the drivers who dropped off a passenger at the airport that came from Guangzhou Hotel. our cab driver was kind enough to go back to the airport to deliver Mia's bag even if it means that he'll pay again a certain amount for entering the airport premises. Mia was giving him money to pay for the fee and as a sign of gratitude for his gesture but he won't accept it. God Bless that man. and I hope more of his kind would grace our streets.

c. we 2 hailed 2 taxis going to Pearl River. the other taxi driver was mean and convinced our driver to take the longer route so that our meter fare would be higher! hmpf

4. Language Barrier
Its hard to communicate, not everyone speaks English. Before leaving the hotel, we asked the concierge to write the names of the places we're going to visit to in Chinese character if in case we got lost we can ask around. Its hard to eat too because there's no translation in the menu. Thank God for the pictures!

5. What to see
a. Yue Xin Park - largest park in GZ. You'll see the 5 rams and Zhenhai tower. The 5 rams represent the 5 gods that came to GZ each giving a stem of rice signaling that Guangzhou will never experience famine again.

b. Municipal hall -  There was another park we went to but we don't know the name. It was a nice building with Chinese architecture. We tried to go in but the guard didn't allow us, apparently, it is a government building. Maybe a municipal hall.

c. Guandong Folk Arts Museum - with just a few steps away from the MRT station, we paid a visit to this museum. It was a different kind of museum I would say. At the entrance we were greeted by a building that has intricate stone carvings on top of the roof, they also have open spaces and landscaped courtyards where you can sit, relax and contemplate. 

d. Pearl Riverone of the famous tourist attraction here in Guangzhou is Pearl River. There are several bridges along the river, it is lit up at night. And it changes color every minute. Along the sides of the bridge are some restaurants and wedding-needs shop.
beautiful Pearl River at night
6. healthy street foods
What can I say? The street foods they sell are a healthy treat. They have different kinds of fruits. We could not resist to try it out.
papaya, guapple, pineapple, chestnuts, melon, radish, apple

7. English Translations
 I find these English translations on different public transport amusing.
at MTR station

sign inside the taxi

8. Shopping
Aside from Hong Kong, Guangzhou is known as an alternative shopping destination. The very famous of which is Beijing Road Pedestrian Street. There are also districts that specializes in different kinds of goods. I forgot the name but we went to a street that sells watches, then there's a street that sells only shoes (all kinds of shoes) and also a place dedicated in selling wholesale clothes. One tip I can offer is when you haggle be sure you're going to buy that item and don't walk away (you know us Pinoys,  its our style) or else you'll get scolded by the seller. True Story! hehehe! :) 

9. Misadventures
What I love most about traveling is the misadventures I always encounter like...

somewhere in Guangzhou

at last,  a Chinese Temple. 
b. eat something you've never eaten before - tried this grilled tentacles by the street. tentacles of what?! we don't really know, of octopus maybe?!

c. let loose - I try to enjoy everything. They say museums can be boring but with a little imagination you can spice it up.

try imitating the statues 

look for unusual place to take pictures

10. caught in the act!
Last but not the least, this is the most memorable event that happened to us while in Guangzhou. A man was doing these magic tricks at the corner of the street. He was making a stick figure dance, stand up and sit at will. Josh was so fascinated that we was asking the man how much it cost. He was so busy scrutinizing the stick dolls that he didn't notice the vendor was being arrested by police. We called Josh but he was chasing after the vendor, we told him that he just leave the vendor coz the police might arrest him too. But he didn't listen. We don't know what to do, either leave Josh or be arrested too! Finally Josh got what he wanted, apparently he bought 10 pcs of those wooden doll sticks. And he was chasing the vendor to get those stick dolls. And FYI, up to now he don't know to make it dance, let alone move the doll itself. Wahaha!

Everything was happening so fast that I wasn't able to take photos or video of what had happened. Found a similar video in You Tube, its almost the same as the dolls we saw in GZ. Watch and understand why Josh got so fascinated. wahaha! :)


Askmewhats said...

ang saya ng trip mo Goddess, the last time I was in GZ, I visited the place ALONE kaya malungkot, di ko na visit lahat ng dapat ivisit :)

gaiLie said...

@nikki: thanks Goddess! :) nakakaloka ang naexperience namen dun. kala dadamputin na kami ng pulis. wahaha!

Karen Kierulf said...

I love honest cab drivers. :)

Nikki said...

Hey..your blog is very amazing, I love to visit everyday..
Don't forget to visit my blog too
Thank you :)