Guangzhou adventures

December 28, 2011. Written in Hong Kong.

Guangzhou adventures

After an exhausting train trip of 28 hours (without seats!) I finally arrived in Guangzhou, one day later than my plan had been, and one day too late for the appointment with my good friend Nicolas.
I hurried to the metro station and took the train to the hostel where I was supposed to meet him. In the train, I stood in front of the door the whole time, ready to exit at any time, but that didn't make things any faster.
After having arrived at the station, I ran to the hostel. The building in which it was supposed to be located was easy to find, but after taking the elevator to the 6th floor, I could not find anything like a hostel. It all seemed to be just normal apartments, even the number of the hostel had no single sign and the door was closed.
After hesitating a while, I decided to go down again. I must have mistaken the building.
Outside, a guard saw me looking around with a troubled face and approached me to help. I explained him that I was looking for a youth hostel. He seemed to understand what I said, and took me into the same building again. We entered the elevator together, and the guard pressed the 6th floor. So it was on the 6th floor after all... The guard brought me in front of the same apartment I had stood in front of before, told me that this was the place and left. It really was just a normal apartment and did not look like a hostel in any way.
I decided to press the bell anyway, and soon an English speaking young man opened the door. It was a hostel indeed, and seemed to be a cozy place too. It reminded me of my very first hostel in Pusan, South Korea, which was called Marubee guest house. That was also an apartment rented by some guys that turned it into a guest house.

My friend Nicolas was waiting for me in the room. Luckily he did not seem angry. We hugged like friends do when they see each other again after a long time. It was really good to see him. Come to think of it, except for a brief meeting with my Spanish friends, this was my first real reunion since I have been traveling. I originally met Nicolas in Seoul, and we both left South Korea at around the same time. While I have been traveling through China for the last 3 months, Nicolas has been living in Hong Kong since, doing an internship at a law firm. It was almost as if I could see that his experiences in Hong Kong had made him look more mature than before, but maybe that's just me.

After a while we decided to go out for lunch. We walked the streets seeking for some place too eat. I saw the Chinese characters "dog meat" at a restaurant, and told my friend this just to tell him a funny fact. 
"Really!? Wow, let's go eat there!" my friend said.
I was surprised to hear this because I originally had no intention of going there. Even after 3 moths in China, I still had not had any dog yet. My friend insisted that it would be an interesting experience and so I agreed on going inside.

We took a seat, and asked for the menu, but the guy said that there was no menu. Just two dishes, dog and goat. We of course chose dog, and the guy went into the kitchen.
A few minutes later, he came back with a huge dog on a big platter. You could actually recognize it as a dog.
"Just a little bit would be enough." we said, while laughing about this situation.
"1 kilo?" the guy asked.
"Let's start with 500 gram" I answered, but the guy said that 1 kilo was the limit, and so we ordered one kilo of dog.
The guy nodded, and took the dog on it's platter back to the kitchen. He took a big knife, and now started to loudly cut the dog in thousands of pieces.

The dog was served as a very simple dish. Basically, it is just dog, and only dog. You get a pot of hot water, and inside is the boiled dog cut in pieces. Except from some Chinese cabbage that is served on another plate, there is nothing else. You dip the dog in some sauces (a sweet sauce or soy sauce), and eat.

The taste you ask? I would not really say bad, but definitely not good either. Just, nothing special about it. Imagine yourself eating small strips of cooked pork with some sauce, and you have pretty much the same experience as eating dog. At least it is not something of which I could imagine anyone being unable to live without.

As we left the restaurant, we saw a little kid playing with a puppy next door. They looked very cute together.

That evening, we strolled through the streets and ended up in an area where rich people seemed to live and go out. We saw many expensive cars, luxury restaurants and clubs and people showing of their watches and jewelry on the streets. Rich Chinese people are incredibly rich, and the worst part of it is that they enjoy showing it off more then anyone else.

The next day we went to the Nanyue king's tomb museum, which holds a tomb of the second king of the Nanyue state of the Western Han Dynasty.

The king was buried in a suit made of jade, which was interesting to see, but the most interesting part of the museum was the guard in front of the entrance. The poor guy has to stand in this pathetic box the whole day. Every day of his live, he wakes up at six, goes to the museum and all he does is stand in a box until closing time. Probably years of his life are like this every day.
And what if something would happen at the museum? For example, imagine a thief running to the exit with some precious prehistoric stone in his hands. The guard in his box will say "Hey, come back!" and try to get out of his box. But before he manages to get out of it, the thief is already long gone, probably in his car laughing about this pathetic guard that couldn't even get out of his box.
"I would have easily had time to take a picture of this guard and show it to my friends" he would think, and regret not having done so.

Next, we decided to visit the temple of Six Banyan Trees, which turned out to be on walking distance from the tomb museum. On the way, there were many shops selling buddhistic items such as incense, buddha figurines, fortune amulets and more. We headed into one of these stores because Nicolas wanted to buy something for his family. He found a nice little buddha figurine that had a price tag of 28 Yuan on its belly. He decided to buy it and took it to the cash desk. The lady said that she didn't know the price and had to go and ask her boss. That was strange, because the buddha had a huge price tag on its belly. A few seconds later, the lady came back with her boss to tell the price.
"150 Yuan" they said.
So that is the foreigner price you guys give, huh. No thank you.

The temple was nice, especially the 57 meter pagoda in front of it was impressive. It seemed to be possible to go up too, but it was sadly not on the day we visited.

After that, we found a milk shop somewhere on the streets. It is rare to find good milk in China, so we both took a small bottle. Next to the shop, there was a bakery that sold pineapple bun's (Hong Kong style sweet bread) for 1 Yuan each. Pineapple bun's with milk, now that's about as good as it can get!

It was getting dark now, and therefore time to head back to the hostel to get our luggage. That evening, Nicolas would go back to Hong Kong and I was going with him to stay at his place. I wasn't able to get the same train though, so after having dinner at the railway station, we went separate ways. I would see him again at his apartment later in the night.
Hong Kong was one of the places I had been looking forward to go for a long time, and now that it was getting close, I felt excited. Especially after 3 months of mainland China, a modern and liberal place without people in boxes(I presume) like Hong Kong should feel like heaven.

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