Guangzhou

November 13

It was early morning when we arrived in Guangzhou.   We were back in a big city and it felt strange.  First thing on the agenda was to find accommodations.  Terry led us to a street where we inquired at the recommended Elan Hotel.   The first hurdle of being back in a city was having to pay much higher hotel prices.  We went down the street a little further and inquired at the Home Hotel.  Looking a little surprised at our question about price, the lady behind the counter asked if we first wanted to see a room.   Stephen and Sherrie were assigned to the task.  Rounding the corner from the not-so-nice lobby to the elevator and seeing the condition of the hall and elevator should have been enough to send us away, but we persisted as we followed a fellow up to the room, conditions kept getting worse.  By the time we got into the musty, grimy room, we had viewed enough and fled.   

Back at the Elan Hotel (not direct website) we asked to view a room.  A glimpse was all it took to appreciate the sparkling clean, nicely appointed rooms. Having spent the night on a sleeper bus, it looked absolutely luxurious.   We checked in.  

The street on which the boutique-feel Elan is on is a mixture of new and old. 

Guangzhou (once called "Canton" by the English), the capital of Guangdong province, is home to over 10 million people.   As it was one of the first "open cities" in China and enjoys special economic status, the economic prosperity of Guangzhou steadily increased and many have flocked here to share in the riches. 

Part of this economic growth has to do with Guangzhou boasting the largest population of Chinese overseas.  It is these people who have been instrumental in opening international trade with the rest of the world.

Guangzhou is also known for the many trade shows it hosts.

We weren't looking for the big city but one of its quiet refuges - Guangzhou Orchid Garden.

The garden was rebuilt from a botanical garden in 1957 and now covers an area of 3.9 hectares.  There are many scenic vista within the garden such as the "China Garden" which has won two international awards.  More than 10,000 pots with over 200 varieties of orchids plus 300 species of other plants are cultivated within the garden and displayed among trees, rocks, waterways and pavilions creating a quiet, elegant place to stroll, to contemplate life while watching the graceful movements of Koi and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. 

 
 
 
 

Upon leaving the gardens we walked along busy streets, passed residential high-rises and men gathered in clumps playing cards upon the wide sidewalk as though it were their recreation room minus a roof.

 
 
 

At the Guangzhou International Financial Building we made our way to the second floor Tao Heung Seafood Hotpot Restaurant.  There was a line up to get in and we waited our turn.    

The place was big and busy but pleasant, the food fine, but we had been spoiled by Alan's wife.  There we were friends, here we were customers ... friends make food taste better.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in at a little bakery and picked up some dessert.  We were all feeling the effects of our sleeper bus night and looked forward to a good bed in a clean room.

 

Guangzhou has much to offer tourists.  Our stop here was a quick one on route from China's small villages to Hong Kong.  For us, spending a good portion of our time in the ethnic villages was the right way to go ... while others might prefer the bustle of big cities and shopping destinations like Guangzhou. Tomorrow we would make the bus ride to Zhuhai for our last night in China before heading to Macau, Kowloon and Hong Kong.

click here to continue to November 14 and to Zhuhai and Macau ... 

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