Sunday, August 31, 2014

Eating through the Motherland in One Day

(Note Tibet and Nepal trek still to come!)

Guangzhou, my hometown

When I found out I had a 16 hour layover in Guangzhou (aka Canton) en route from Nepal to LAX, I thought, great! I'm going to town to eat! Now when people ask where my family is from in China, I usually give a generic "Village near Canton" because we are Cantonese. But when asked,  I realize that this response wouldn't fly here in actual Canton. Oops.

Ok, so after a 5:30 am arrival, there was much confusion at customs (of course), and I had to wait while they checked and double checked to see if I can be let in the country. Finally I am told that since my layover was more than 9 hrs, they'll give me a hotel room and I can get the free 1 day transit visa. Score. I check to make sure the hotel is metro accessible since I don't plan on spending my only day in Guangzhou in a hotel room. They assure me yes.  When I get to the hotel, I shower and want to leave. But I realize it's in the middle of nowhere suburbia! I didn't want to pay the $15 or whatever it was for a cab to the metro so after crossing many highways I finally find a public bus to the metro. Schlepping my small backpack with me I'm ready to eat!

So, I had no guide book for this city and only saved a few screen shots of neighborhoods and restaurants. I thought no worries, I'll have data on my phone at last. Except I forgot that Google or any standard search engine for that matter is blocked in China. So with no map, no direction, and no Chinese speaking ability, I failed for the first hour to navigate. But finally, determined I found bakeries and a local food neighborhood.

Noodle goodness for 7 yuan ($1)

I just went to the most popular stand with the locals and pointed to what they were eating. It didn't fail. By far the best thing I had here.

Meandering the side streets at lunch watching the locals. I think it was the fabric quarters.
More meandering. A rather calm city by China standards.

I managed to find a government hosted travelsite for Guangzhou which led me to...

Shopping district
With done extra time and yuan to spare, I gave a go at shopping. I scored at uniqlo of all places. Also bought a size large dress, because that's my size in Asia.

One day well spent in passing. I got tons of delicious baked goods (almond cookies, custard on-tots, Chinese rice crispies, sweet beef jerkey) two good meal, boba and dragonfruit smoothie. Overall, a great city to people watch and experience. Not touristy at all.

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