There’s Always A First Time: Guangzhou – Hot, Humid & Bustling.
The first time we arrived in Guangzhou was in summer. It was like a knock into the face when stepping out of the airport; the city welcomed us with a whooping 42° Celsius (in a late afternoon). We knew it was going to be hot … but not this hot! Walking around in a city with these temperatures really needed some self discipline (luckily the subway was air conditioned and an easy and fast way to get around in the city).
Our daily routine started with an early swim in the rooftop pool of our hotel on Shamian Island. This part of Guangzhou is a relaxing area within this vast city, where traffic is limited and you can walk under old trees along very nice old colonial buildings. For your western comfort you will also find a Starbucks cafe around the corner – not that we love such world spanning chains but in some places they just come in handy for a luxury treat :)
Around ten o’clock the shopping temples open their gates for the brand cautious shopper. Guangzhou truly is a shoppers delight. After a few hours of choosing, comparing and haggling, we definitely had enough. So we stepped outside, and found this little Muslim restaurant where you get the best noodle soup in the entire city! By now we’ve eaten our way through many other places in Guangzhou but absolutely nothing compares to this semi outdoor food stall.
So, after returning for a quick offload of the purchased stuff, we were ready to hit the hidden sights of the city in the afternoon. We set out South with the subway. There was one station that caught our interest: It’s on an island on the Pearl River. After some 40 minutes we finally got there and walked up the stairs to realize that we were in a complete different world; birds were chirping, chicken ran around, you could find typical old Chinese houses and women who had their marketplace right near the subway station Eggs, herbs, fruits … simply all things that are produced on this island were sold there. The locals were truly astonished that two Western women visited their island … A chit chat starts immediately (of course) but unfortunately we didn’t understand a word…
There are maybe around 50 houses on this island with small alleys, and entrance doors opened. Not many strangers find their way down there, so you can peek into ones living rooms :) It’s like a typical Chinese village life. Fish was being dried along the way and some women were doing embroidery on the village square.
A gentle breeze from the river and the sound of some doves made this afternoon a very relaxing one – in an otherwise so busy city. We topped off the day with a visit to a hairdresser for a wash and blow dry including a sensational head massage. The pool back at the hotel made this day in Guangzhou a perfect one.