5 Jan 2008 (backdated post)
We arrived at the lovely Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, which is comparable to our own Changi Airport in terms of efficiency and modern facilities. We cleared immigration quickly… and then spent over half an hour waiting for our tour guide, who was at the wrong block and couldn’t find us.
We told him off, thinking he was just late and pretending to have gotten lost. However, he took our criticisms in his stride. He told us his surname was Jin but we could call him James. He guided us back to the other side of the airport, making us port our luggage down an elevator, through a concourse and then back up another elevator which took ages to arrive.
Finally, we got onto the bus and had lunch. I thought the food was decent, but my relatives had paid the Singapore tour agent extra to give us better food, so they weren’t too happy at what we were getting.
Suckling pig. Lukewarm, fatty but crunchy.
Crunchy long beans with pork. The usual hearty tourist fare…
Live seafood outside the restaurant
We visited the ancestral home where some of my mum’s cousins were born. I’d think it would be a run-down place but it wasn’t too bad. I can imagine it being quite grand in its heyday.
Inside the family compound, looking back at the main door
The main building, which we climbed up
A very old, large tree. Imagine playing Chinese chess in front of it, or sipping tea with friends!
On our way out, some officials entered the compound and started making some surveys on the land. Apparently they were contracted to restore the house. They mentioned our surname and we confirmed that this was our ancestral home. It was a generally friendly conversation.
Nearby was a grand-looking restaurant. I was told that the ruling officials had taken some of our ancestral home’s wood and glass and used it to build this restaurant, specifically the staircase shown in this photo. Oh well.
We then went to the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum, which was pretty interesting.
This is the front entrance.
Beyond that, is another section.
There were all sorts of folk art.
(taken through glass)
to opera masks…
Even the building itself was crafted in an artistic way.
I love taking perspective shots.
Outside, we had freshly-roasted chestnuts.
Finally we unloaded our bags at the Kaying Hotel, which supposedly had a 3 star rating. My relatives had stayed there last year and said it was good. The reception area looked pretty OK but when we saw the rooms, we were a little dismayed. Our beds were clean, but the bathroom wasn’t. There was a cavity under the sink where a tissue box would have belonged, except there was none. When we requested for a tissue box, we were told that none would be given and we should use toilet paper for everything. The toilet door had a bloodlike stain running down it, and if you opened it while I was sitting on the bowl, you might hit my head. Black fungus lined the joints between the bathtub and the wall.
All this would still have been tolerable, had there been a steady, clean water supply. Instead, sometime in the afternoon, we realised that there was no more water at all. Apparently there were water works going on – which we weren’t warned about. A few hours later, I tried again. The tap sputtered, then a torrent of muddy water gushed out all over the sink. Eventually the water cleared up although the smell was grassy. My mum washed her hair halfway, opened her eyes and realised the water had gone back to muddy again.
On our way down to the lobby, we stepped into a large puddle of water. There was a leak where the lifts were. A young Chinese girl alerted hotel staff who tried to mop up the leak, but there was too much water.
So much for a 3-star hotel in China. My relatives explained that the hotel was much better last year, and noted how quickly the standards had deteriorated. It was obvious that the budget had been cut. Fortunately, the restaurant on the 2nd floor was decent.
We had roast pigeon, but apparently it wasn’t as good as what they had before, so the quest for the best roast pigeon began (we found it several days later in another province, but I’ll tell you more later).
After dinner, we did some shopping in the neighbourhood. This is a nightlife shot.
We went back to the hotel only to find the main lift area closed. Hotel staff were still cleaning up the mess! We had to use a lift on the other side of the building, and cross back to our side.
Geek moment – while out shopping, we spotted an Asus subnotebook going for only 2,999 Yuan – that makes it around S$600. It was in a Chinese electronics store, sold alongside other branded laptops. Nice!