Saturday, 14 July 2012

Guangzhou

28th June – 1st July
So, after visiting the colonies, it was finally time to return to mainland China. First we had to work out how to get to Guangzhou from Macau. We could have got the train from Shenzhen, but that involves a ferry from Macau – not an option after the last ferry trip. So we settled on getting the bus directly to Guangzhou.

The internet was a bit short on information so it took us a bit of time to work it out. For the benefit of anyone who finds themselves in a similar position in future, here’s how it works.

1) There’s a Chinese bus company called CTS. They have an office next door (almost) to the Beverly Hotel. You can buy tickets from there.
2) Once you’ve got your tickets, turn up at the CTS office about 30 minutes before your bus leaves. You’ll get a sticker applied to your chest and one of the staff will escort you to the bus parked around the corner.
3) This bus takes you only as far as the GongBei border crossing between Macau and China. It only takes about 15 minutes.
4) Go through the Macau exit and China entry border checks. It took us only 30 minutes, but apparently can take as long as 90 minutes when busy.
5) Just outside the China border at the top of a flight of stairs that leads to a shopping centre, we found a desk with CTS staff. Show them your sticker (and ticket if necessary) and they’ll escort you down the stairs to the CTS bus stop and waiting area.
6) At the waiting area, show them your ticket and you’ll be assigned a seat on the bus, signified by a sticker on your ticket.
7) As you get on your bus your bags will be put in the luggage space under the bus. It will also be stickered – this was checked when we got off.
8) The journey to Guangzhou takes about 3-4h depending on traffic. There was a toilet break about two hours in. There’s a couple of stops before reaching the centre of Guangzhou. We got off in the old centre, close to Haizhu Square metro station. The terminus is in the new town at Tianhe, near the main railway station.

Here’s Karen, literally overjoyed at not having to take another ferry.

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Dry land
That’s business completed so time for some fun.

Based on advice from he Irish boys we met in Xi’an, the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Yue King was well worth a visit. Seeing as it was only a short walk from our hotel, we couldn’t refuse. the Mausoleum and Museum itself was interesting, but only mildly so. After the Terracotta Warriors, seeing yet another insane ancient King’s tomb treasures doesn’t really cut it. However, there was also a pillow exhibition in the museum. Surprisingly this was actually quite good!

Who knew, for example that ancient pillows weren’t made of cloth and feathers, but wood, stone, or, if you were rich, porcelain.

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Imagine sleeping on this
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Imagine pillow-fighting with this...
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If you look closely, you can see flecks of blood on the shards
OK, maybe not that interesting.

The following day, we decided that a bit more excitement was required.

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The Canton Tower
The Canton Tower (Canton is the old name for Guangzhou) is the tallest structure in China and the fourth tallest in the world. Whilst safely at the bottom, we had a bit if a rush of blood to the head, and decided to  not only visit the viewing platform at the top, but also do the Sky Drop.

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The aptly-named Sky Drop
This is the highest torture device in the world (or something). You take your seat and are ratcheted 35m into the air (plus 488m), legs dangling, then dropped like a stone. If that’s not bad enough there’s another one round the back that does the same but in a standing position, tilted slightly forwards, to make sure you’re properly hanging. The whole experience was a stark reminder of why I’ve never done a bungee jump. Sheer terror.

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"wibble"
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"wibble-wibble"
Luckily, the silver lining was access to the outdoor viewing platform and it’s stunning views. The little bubble cars you can see are like an almost horizontal Ferris wheel – the preferred choice for every other(sane) tourist.

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View from the top
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Definitely worth the terror
We chilled out at the top until our legs de-jellified. If you’re ever in Guangzhou, it’s well worth a visit. Better than the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Yue King anyway.

Current Location: Yangshuo until 18th July
Next Stop: Nanning

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