My two week-ish stint in China is about to come to an end, unfortunately, as I prepare to fly back to Vietnam for Christmas. We’ve only visited the south, but what an awesome country so far.
By ANDY BOREHAM.
But before I start, let me just say that I’m not about to get into a debate about the politics of this giant country. I’m not going to address homosexuality, human rights, or Tibet — that’s a whole ‘nother article!
What I am going to talk about is food, shopping, and people. And the fact that my time here has been pretty awesome.
We first entered China on a bus from Vietnam, a journey from Hanoi which took about seven hours. Our first impressions weren’t that great, but it was quite liberating having a ‘rate my performance’ survey button at immigration — it felt great pressing ‘bad service’ really obviously as the stern-faced officer threw my passport at me.
But when we arrived in Nanning we fell in love. The city is beautiful and the people are friendly and welcoming. Thomas, a Chinese high-school student working at our guesthouse, offered to take us to get some food. The next day he showed us around the city and took us to a back-road restaurant serving a delicious dish of freshly made (right before your eyes!) noodles with beef and spring onion. Amazing!
We were sad to leave Nanning after only two days and Thomas helped us book tickets on the overnight train to Guangzhou. Twelve or so hours on a top bunk of three and we arrived, blurry eyed and tired.
With an emphasis on trade, Guangzhou is one of the commerce capitals of China; a place where people come from all over the planet to purchase wholesale watches, handbags, toys, stationery, fabric, clothes, and more.
And believe me, we’ve been ushered down quite a few side streets, into dingy secret rooms and up rickety ladders to secret attics to view ripoff Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex watches. I’m not really into labels, let alone fake ones, but it was quite exciting to see — especially since all of the advice I’ve got is to avoid these scenarios like the plague!
Unfortunately, when it comes to clothes, I’m shit out of luck here in China. In the beginning I found a few awesome jackets and tops, but was always laughed at when I asked if they had it in my size. It was as if they were saying: ‘Of course we don’t have your size, you giant freak!’
The boyfriend, who is much smaller in stature than my 6’2″ frame, had ample luck finding jackets and pants etc, so I tried to hide my envy by finding other things. And there is plenty to choose from.
The markets here — especially Shangxiajiu-Dishipu Pedestrian Shopping Street and Beijing Road Pedestrian Shopping Street — offer everything from home-wares to local food to shoes to bags to pets to, well, most things. And then there are the wholesale markets!
OMG, the wholesale markets. There are so many, usually specialising in one thing like watches, stationery, toys, and so on. Most of the stalls sell in bulk, but many also offer single items. And everything is cheaper than you’d think.
I ended up with 1,000 of these awesome recycled pens (don’t ask!) and a bunch of other stuff that I probably don’t need. They’ll make great gifts for friends back home!
We also visited Shenzhen in our time here, which is apparently China’s most prosperous city. It is on the border with Hong Kong (we decided not to visit there this time) and is an official Special Economic Zone, which is quite interesting. To be honest, the weather crapped out for our two days and we didn’t end up doing what we had planned. In fact, the highlight was probably the high speed train between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Tickets cost 80RMB each, and the 147km is covered in no time at all!
So now we’re back in Guangzhou, relaxing before our flight to Saigon for Christmas. All I can really say is, China is awesome. In more ways than one.
Sure, I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, but I’ll definitely be back soon to visit more of this beautiful, mammoth country.
Andy visited China courtesy of Tourism China. LOL, yeah right — I wish! 🙂
- Andy in Shanghai 01
- Gay Labour thief named
- Skipping Asian food in Asia
- Big Gay Out was pretty gay!
- Penis size map