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Guangzhou

Today we head off to Jane's home town for som visiting.

We travel by train again but this time by C train which I understand is intercity train.  It should take us about an hour and a half to get there, as opposed to 30 - 40 min on a bullet train.  The reason we use the slower method is that the train station is closer.  Now let me tell you about the train station, it is not that far from where we stayed, but the entrance is now obscured by construction that was not there last week so we spend a while trying to find a place to park that would grant us access to the station.  Again when we purchase tickets we need passports, and have to go through airport type security.  You can bring most things on the train including water etc but this time I was stopped and asked to drink some of the water that I was carrying interesting?

The train was nice to ride I noticed again the many buildings under construction and the many empty buildings, although those buildings were mostly old.

We arrive in Guangzhou at the central train station which is quite busy and have to make our way to Jane's dad's place.  We were there before, but we were driven there.  We know that it is two subway stops from the central train station and then a walk (10 min or so) mission assigned.  We get  out of the train station and there are people everywhere there is some sort of way out is seems so we just follow the what seems like thousands of people out of the station.  Once almost out we have to go through some more security no big deal, but I see this guy yelling and screaming at one of the security guards, not only that but the security guard is yelling back and it looks like it may come to blows.  This is totally odd to me as I would think a security guard as having the power to arrest me or something like that, not someone I would want to pick a fight with.  We get out and look for the metro station, we know that there is one somewhere, and it should be well marked (not so with my vision).  We eventually find it by asking a security guard in the area where to go we should try to remember this place as we will be coming back to do some shopping in the next day.

 

Lets find Jane's dad's place by subway and walking.  Note that when one gets to a subway stop you have to exit now which exit you decide to take can be very important.  Now think about a station that is more than a couple blocks in size underground, and has 6 exits, taking the wrong on could put you a 10 min walk in the wrong direction away from where you want to be.  We do not have this type of local knowledge so we just pick one.  The route we chose brought us through a mini mall before we exit.  I notice in one of the stores a girl is standing there trying to sell some stuff clothes I think and she is wearing a T shirt that has English words on it "Fuck You Asshole"  now I have to believe she had no clue about what the words on the shirt meant or she would never wear this sort of thing.  Note lots of clothes for sale have English words on them lots of which make no sense but they are there ruining what looks like a nice piece of clothing.  Now we exit the station pull out the cellphone to get a gps signal and enter the address of the place.  Things work quite well with Maps.me and navigation to the apartment is done without any backtracking, we just walk to the door, don't you just love modern technology.

 

Once there we let relatives know that we made it to the place without any issues, and they all keep letting us know to go to this one restaurant, each of them giving us directions.  One more call to Dad and we get even more directions. Its easy they all say so out the door and off we go, wait wait wait its not that easy, seems we locked the cage door when we entered, and we can't seem to get it unlocked from the inside, Vantho tries, I try, Jane tries did we just lock ourselves into the house?  Finally Phaydy gives it a try and we are out, remember never to lock the door from the inside with the key.  Ok now we are off to find the restaurant which is easy to find, its a few blocks away on a street with a German name and is on the second floor and has a name with a horizontal 1 in the name.  An hour later we are hungry and the easy to find restaurant is still elusive to us we eat anyplace that we find sorry to Dad and the relatives we can't tell you how we liked it as we did not make it there.

 

Now for some shopping on the Beijing Road Pedestrian Street which is full of people and shops on both sides of the street.  People are using microphones with speakers to call you into the stores.  The prices in these stores are not all that cheap, and I notice all the people that work in these stores are quite young.  I get approached by guys on the street wanting to sell me Rolex watches Armani suits shoes etc. I think the single me out because I am white, how can you blame them.

Its late now and we get some steam buns and baker goods for a light dinner and breakfast food for the morning.

 

Laundry is done at the apartment and then the drying starts.  The washer is nothing special, but drying is done by hanging the clothes on bars high on the ceiling and then putting the dehumidifier under the cloths and suck the moisture from the air.  Now the starting humidity is 93% and after the evening it was down to 65% and we have probably 6 liters of water in the bucket and dry clothes.  Note to self look up how a dehumidifier works.

 

 

 

Guangzhou Day 2

Day 2 to start, we are going to make this a shopping day.  Guangzhou is noted for having lots of wholesale markets that will sell retail to individuals, clothing markets, shoe markets, leather markets.  In order to get really good deals on electronics we would need to go to Shenzhen, but that is not in the cards for this trip.  So off to the markets we go the clothing one first, we know where this one is as it is at the central train station and we were there yesterday.  Upon arriving at the market we enter the first one bails of clothes at store entrances so many people and the place is stuffy and smelly, it is truly overwhelming, and this one I think is purely wholesale and deals with larger quantities than we are looking for, plus Phaydy can't handle the stuffyness we find the first exit.  This exit takes us to a market type street with small stalls selling shoes, purses, belts etc. we browse but nothing really there that any of us want to purchase, so on to the next place.  I must say the whole place is a bit overwhelming I never really planned on purchasing anything except for some shoes I hope that I find some.  Jane at this point has decided that she is not going to get anything too much choice for her to deal with.  Phaydy on the other hand is looking for things to purchase, I am just tagging along with the girls, Vantho wants some things, but shopping in a group is not his thing, he needs to have no people waiting for him while he looks so we get a meeting place and time and part ways.  Phaydy my sweet does not see much stuff for herself but always wanting her man to look good (that is a challenge), all she sees is things that she would like for me to have.  Lots of interesting things to look at and a couple of lost people along the way no story to tell but we will all have a memory, I left with a couple pairs of jeans, a shirt and a couple sweaters, Phaydy with a sweater and a couple down jackets as gifts, Vantho a sweater and some other goods, and Jane exactly what she planned nothing :-(. 

Now these places negotiation of price is a must, and I wanted Phaydy as an ally to try and pull me away from the deal to help bring the price down, instead she ended up as foe.  It goes like this "If I get two can you drop the price to xxx"  Phaydy "why bother its cheap already"  well their English may not be good, but at that point any negotiation is done. just give them what they are asking.

Some sightseeing before it gets dark so off the a park I should remember the name but it is one that Jane remembers from a child and is really quite beautiful  (I looked it up Yuexiou Park).  Plant art at the entrance is really nice.  Then on the last bus up to the peak of the hill to see the monument of the city which is 5 rams, goats, lambs it has something to do with surviving Famine I'll let you read about it at this link  http://www.guangzhou.chn.info/overview/legend-of-5goats.html.

We need to get bus tickets for our trip to Hong Kong and Jane remembers from a long time ago that you could get tickets from a big hotel and we happen to see one across the street so lets try.  It turns out that she was correct and the bus stop is at this hotel so we get tickets for tomorrow and head out on our way.  No one feels that hungry so we decide on steam buns for dinner (lazy people we are).  

Later Vantho and I go out shopping at the walking street again, we get there by going through the Canton Hotel who never really seem to say anything when we walk through the hotel and use their washrooms more than a couple of times.  The real reason for the shopping trip is not for either of us but for Jane, Vantho wants to get something nice for Jane, and he gets her a nice jade necklace.  We have to make it look like a real shopping trip so after finding the copy market in the alley I get myself some designer leather wallets hey they must be real leather as they held a lighter to them and they did not melt.

 

Jane was really happy with the gift!

 

Hong Kong

Up early so that we can get the bus to Hong Kong knowing that we have to use the subway during rush hour, this should be fun.  Lets make sure to stick together, if one does not make it on we stop at next stop, I don't think we did a plan if one did not make it off the train.  So it is really busy on the subway, the first train I hold back a bit, and it is really full, Ok Ian puff your chest, spread your lats and push yourself onto the train.  Its a cool feeling seeing all these people get forced further on the train as I push, I'm on yay.

When we get to the bus depot, we are early so we will wait for our bus, na the lady puts us on the bus that is leaving right now, lucky us.

On this ride I see many interesting things I can see many factory type cities, there are six or eight large low buildings (the factory) and between them are 3-4 large apartment buildings.  This is where I think you will find the people that are not well paid, but think about it for a minute the people that work in the factory would also get accommodation, food and who knows what else.  Anyway that is just a guess and I could be wrong.  A couple hours pass and we are at the border between China and Hong Kong and have to get off the bus.  Now nothing is clear to us, where do we go, what bus do we get back on all kinds of questions, but we follow the crowd like sheep and into China exit (we look for the exit slip we got when we entered lucky we all still have them).  So waiting in line I see this group of people Chinese nationals who were in the Visitors line, when they get to the front the boarder agent tells them to go to the other line.  This would seem normal except the guy at the front just blows up yelling and telling the boarder agent to f-off etc.  Wow they do not seem to respect boarder agents I would be afraid if I did this I would be arrested.  Once through this exit section we enter another section which is Hong Kong entry this goes smooth. We had some food and stuff while crossing the boarder, and we were not supposed to but could not find a place to get rid of it, not knowing what we had to go through next we found a garbage and put it in there.  Not 100 meters later we are out and looking for the bus, I guess they did not care that we brought food (as it was in plain sight) and we did not have to get rid of it, oh well.  Somehow we got to a bus and asked if it was ours, and it was but instructions on this were far from clear, I was still not sure that we were on the correct bus.

We got to our air b&b place a bit early as the other group was still to check out 11:00 am and it was 10:56 am, this place is self check- in so we waited for the kids to leave (I would never leave a place as messy as they did it kind of pissed me off) .  This place is 400 sq feet and has 3 bedrooms and two baths, somehow it seems to work.  Jane's cousins and uncles treat us to a dim sum lunch and come look at the place most of us stayed outside and the place is small you know.  They came down and were really impressed with the place and want to know how to rent it as they would recommend it to others who are visiting.  Looks like we did a good pick.

Some shopping for electronics first to what is really a used electronics street market not really what we want, then to a street for department type electronics, not really what we wanted either.  All the prices there are more than back in Vancouver, so why purchase anything.  Vantho on the other hand sees his opportunity to get his Huawei Mate 9 Pro phone and seized one.  Of course we had to try for some extras as this thing is expensive, so ended up with a sd card, and a power pack.  I have a feeling we will be seeing many pictures posted using the phone camera as it is quite a good shooter in low light and bright light.  Congratulations Van you got the item you most wanted on this trip!

Off to take the tram to Victoria peak and it is just the right time as we will see some daylight and it will be dark before we leave.  Well the lineup really took and daylight pictures out but the evening pictures of the city are fantastic.

Big Buddha the next morning, Jane was not so sure that she would make it as she had a rough night being sick, Jane was number two to fall to some stomach issue.  She thinks its more from lack of eating as opposed to what she ate.  We take our time and we all make our way to the Big Buddha which is in and out of misty fog, and quite impressive.  The thing that we all notice is the swastika on the Buddha chest  a little google and I come up with this "Another symbol of Buddhism is the "reverse swastika". You will see these symbols used in decoration throughout Buddhist temples as well as here carved into the chest of the Big Buddha. The symbol has nothing to do with the swastika, it is merely a symbol associated with Buddhism, like the cross would be a symbol for Catholics."  That is an odd statement as I have never heard that before.  Oh notice I said google, ya google and facebook work in Hong Kong no great firewall of china here.

We go for some dinner with Jane's cousin for Indonesian food really quite good, there is a dish we get of eggplant and a sauce with chili and shrip sauce, we have to look up where to find it or learn to make it.

 

After a short walk, OK not so short walk through the streets of Hong Kong using maps.me to guide us to the ferry terminal back to Hong Kong Island or were we on the island, I don't know.  We get the ferry across and it is quite nice to see the view as we have been underground lots taking the metro which is great, but we never see the city cites when we do.  AT the other side we ok I want to take a good picture of this ferris wheel that lights up with happy face etc in the middle it goes something like this, take a picture (no too blurry) adjust some things in the camera, take another, (no too dark) make some more changes take another picture, (no too bright) aw I give up lets go. That will be it for Hong Kong we take a ferry across to Macau tomorrow.

Macau

Get up in the morning clean up a bit and get ready to go to Macau by ferry.  There are a couple of ferry companies all operating out of the same area so off we go.  Go to one counter, no thats not the one we want, go to another, now that is the one we want, but the next boat for sale is an hour or so wait, what choice do we have we get the ticktes and proceed to the waiting gate.  There are two types of boats on a cameraman and one a hydrofoil I wanted to go on the hydrofoil but it was more than double the cost.  We see a sitting area so we take a seat and wait, there is a boat about to go so they call the people to board, and I notice but did not pay too much attention to a line formed by the window.  After that boat had finished loading I went up and asked if there was a way to get on the next boat, and she explained to me that there is a standby line which was that line by the window.  The next boat had a line that had just started to form and she said I could wait there. Cool stop sitting and start standing in line, it will save us over an hour if we get on the next boat, and the line was not all that long.  Fingers crossed when the next boat was loading we got on the boat.  The boarding process was quite interesting as when we approached the counter to check the tickets the lady would look what seats are still available and put a sticker with that seat number on your ticket, old school, but quick when filling up with standby passengers.

 

On the boat we got a seat with a table looking across from each other, not too bad.  A bunch of announcements and we are off, I could not hear too much but I think they are not going to be serving anything on the boat, as the seas are a bit rough.  Now I did not notice that at all.  Near the end of the trip when we are coming into Macau, we can see the bridge that is being built between Hong Kong and Macau, a really long bridge.  The weather was quite misty so did not get any good pictures.

 

Off the boat and out to look for our hotel shuttle, kind of crazy we can't find the shuttle to our hotel, but after a while we found it.  Lots of other shuttle buses to the bigger hotels.  We get to check in and see our rooms which are really nice.  The view from ours and Jane's as well do look out onto a partially finished building.  The started got quite a way into the build but never finished, it looks like it has been that way for a while, no work being done.  I guess the developer ran out of money to complete it.  One would think there is an opportunity for someone else to come and finish it off on the cheap.

We all go out to get some lunch before some sight seeing, Phaydy and I go to some Portuguese place that has some fish dish and some stuffed chicken.  This looks like some of what the locals eat so lets give it a try and there are quite a few people in there must be good.  The lunch was good, but probably the most expensive lunch of the trip.  Jane and Vantho ate at some other place along the market area.

Sight seeing time now off in a taxi to the casino district Vantho is all dressed up in suit and shoes looking good.  After a bit of wandering through the casino we come out front to the water show.  Now in Vegas there would be a crowd formed to watch the show and there would be a barrier between you and the water.  Not in Macau, we can stand at the waters edge with no crowd bothering us at all quite interesting.

There are some other sites that we want to see before the light goes away on us.  There is a fort and a facade of an old church that has to be seen, so after a short taxi ride we are at the church and fort.  The only thing left of the church is the front wall, but there are some historic excavations that show where columns used to be etc.  I should look some of this stuff up when I get back.  The fort next to the church is interesting in that all of the cannons were pointing to the water to defend against water attack and none were pointed to China.  It seems that the Portuguese were not concerned about an attach from China, they must have had a good relationship, but were worried about other countries attaching by sea.  We wandered about for a while and then down a tourist street selling all kinds of goods.  Not really hungry yet but we get some bubble tea.  I see lots of stores selling the dish that has to be tried while in Macau which is a pork bun.  I see many many many places selling jerky with different flavors not sure why I did not read about that but it was there.  The street ended up at a fountain with many people congregated around, an interesting place to watch people.  Following maps.me we navigate back to the hotel and its time for dinner.

Now how do I put this in an easy way.  Remember I said earlier that Vantho was all dressed up, well he was dressed up to go to a casino not dressed up for the sight see walk (and we did quite a bit of walking).  Dress shoes may look good and take good pictures, but they are not really all that good for lots of walking, needless to say Vantho has really sore feet, and has to rest.  Phaydy, Jane and I set off to find some of the famous pork buns and brought some back for Vantho.  The bun is famous but is really nothing special, not to say that I did not enjoy eating them, but then again when do I not enjoy eating.  Oh I can think of a time not that long ago, seems I had an issue with seeing some steamed fish with eyes.

Later we got Vantho the pork buns and some desert, did I mention they have a custard tart that is also a must have in Macau.  I convinced Vantho that we had to go out to the casino, that is why we are here is it not.

 

The Casino's

Vantho has a method for Baccarat which I read so lets see how it goes.  First place, we go and try to get some money and find a table, now the system requires that you have a bank roll proportional to the min table bet, but all the tables have really high limits.  This is something that shocks me as I see young people there playing hundred or thousand dollar hands.  Where the hell do these people get this kind of money to throw around.   We can't find a table at this place the limits on all of them are just to high, so off to the next place.  The limits here are also quite high, I don't get it Vantho want's to play so he sits down at the table puts his money down to make a bet and the dealer pushes his money back.  What they don't want to take bet?  I don't understand this is crazy, lets get out of this place as well.  MGM we got to be able to place bets here.  Finding a table with the right limit is even harder in this place.  Then we stumble upon a computerized table, but not run by a computer it has a number of dealers who are dealing actual cards, but you bet through the computer.  Seems odd but this type of thing actually works better for Vantho's system.  See Vantho's system relies on certain statisical scenerios to be present before bets are made.  So on a regular table you would have to wait for those conditions to present themselves and then make a bet, but there could be long stretches where you would not place a bet.  In this computer system, you are acutally sitting at and playing 6 tables at the same time.  This is good for the system as you do not have to wait as long for the correct scenario to come up.  The problem here is that it is hard to watch and play 6 tables, this is where I come in.  I'm not a big gambler so my job here is to watch the tables and inform Vantho when a given table is in a betting condition.  A number of hours later Vantho has done well at the tables and it is time to leave, but lets have a beer to winde down.   Can you believe it there is not a place to have a drink, I think they must not be aloud to drink after midnight or something.

 

 Tomorrow is our last day and night train to Guangzhou

Last Night in Guangzhou

Morning breakfast is included, buffet style.  Did I forget to mention last evening Vantho was the third to fall down with a bad stomach seems either lunch or the coconut bubble tea put his system off kilter. Taxi to the border not that far really, then through all kinds of security again exit Macau, enter China, another card in the passport to not loose.  The train station is next to the border so we walk over and get our train to home, nothing new now with security checks x-ray machines etc.  We are getting good at this, exit train and find Jane's dads place no problem.  What is left to do, oh shop for some things as we don't have to carry them all over the country.  The walking street is a good place to go.  Jane - find backpack, clothes for Cody, Phaydy - need extra luggage, Ian - shoes I want some shoes, Vantho - well he got his phone so he will see what he sees.

Lots of shopping on the main street for some clothes, and some gifts for people scarves etc. its pretty normal stuff.  Then we go to the back streets this is where the real fun begins.  I see a place that is selling suitcase and the style that I want, time to negotiate, she starts high, I start low.  I am concerned about quality so I ask her to stand on the luggage to see how strong it is.  She stands on it, then I ask if I can stand on it, somehow she seems hesitant and say no.  Now I have some more bargening power I act like I am concerned about the quality and such, although I think it is of good quality.  I end up getting it for 200 rmb which is about $40 I think I got a good deal, but then that is all that counts.  Lets find Jane a backpack, swiss gear bags look to be popular, thes things are hard to deal with as they have so many features that some have and others not.  We finally find a good bag, all the sewing looks good I guess only time will tell if it is a good one.  I'm writing this one a bit late, but I think we got this for 150 I think Jane did good. Off for some shoes I really wanted some walking type shoes, or hiking aproach shoes, I could not find any of those so I got some comfortable dress style shoes took some negotiation on this one but got a good deal. I see Vantho at a stall getting belts and or wallets (he got his two wallets for less than I did the other day oh well).  Phaydy wants a belt and looks and finds and armani belt I think, anyway, its not leather so we make her change it to leather, she has a high number 200 or something like that, then I come back with 40, she is quite flirty and gives me some other number, I go back with I don't understand but all I hear is she saying 40 this goes on for a while and she trys to call phaydy over "hey lady" she says I look white but negotiate like Indian (I must be doning something right) Phaydy says just give her the money (I was at 40 she was at 50)  so 50 it is.  Then Phaydy says I should get one she finds an armani buckle and now she says 70, what? I want this one for 40 come on I'm buying 2.  She takes a 100 from my hand and says she will give me back change I got a 50 back so I got it for the same price.  You know I was having so much fun negotiating price I forgot what Vantho got except some wallets.

I took my old shoes off placed them in a bin on the street and changed to my new shoes.  Others went to stores to find things I kind of stayed on the street and held fort and bags for others.  Every couple of minutes I would have some guy come up and offer to take me to the watch place or armani suit store, and I have to shrug them off.  Odd one lady came by and wanted to know my plans for my trip and offered to be my guide (all I was doing was sitting and waiting Oh I did have a luggage with me also).

Its late and we have to travel tomorrow so off to repack and sleep.

 

Shanghai on the way home

On the way home we will have an 8 hour delay in Shanghi so we can go out and see some sites there.

At the airport is fairly normal except for one thing when we are going through security one of the guy in front of us has this big bottle of booze out on the table, and is arguing with the security guards.  I can't believe that he thinks because he argues that he will be allowed to take it.  If it was in north america he would be arrested for that behavior.

In Shanghai we take the maglev train on our way to the bund district.  We got the train that goes 300 Km/h but one of them does 450 Km/h I think it is a test track to show the world what can be done.  Impressive if you ask me, not sure if they got any orders for them though.  The street where we got off the train is really busy and it is cold outside 6 C.  Made our way to the bund and it is quite a nice walk on the water, one side old European style buildings and on the other side modern buildings that will light up amazing actually.

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