The first thing you see when you arrive in the international terminal of the Guangzhou airport is “Blenz” (a coffee company from Vancouver). But a hot chocolate there cost 55 RMB, or $11!!! ELEVEN DOLLARS!!!! That’s crazy even for airport prices!
The international area of the Guangzhou airport blows. Everything is really really really expensive and it’s really hot inside. And really boring. And you have to have a Chinese phone number to get access to the wifi (and even if you do find someone to help you get on the internet you can’t look at Facebook or Twitter or anything Google related. :/).
So, we were pretty happy to take advantage of China’s 72 hour transit visa on the way back so that we could leave the airport. (You just fill out an exit form and go into a special line at customs, and it’s free.)
We had about 6 hours. The subway in Guangzhou goes right to the airport so I asked the guy at the subway ticket booth where is good to visit and he circled a few stops for us. We picked the closest one, Tiyuxilu.
It was like 6 AM at the time so the subway was pretty empty. But we picked up more and more people on their commute to work at every stop.
Actually it was pretty cool seeing everyone on their way to work, and seeing the transformation from very quiet streets to extreme crowds and traffic in just a few hours. We wandered around random streets and alleyways, absorbing the chaos and buying bits of food along the way.
The main language there is Cantonese, but between my broken Mandarin and words I knew from dimsum we did just fine. Those baskets of pork and corn dumplings were 2 RMB each. TAKE THAT 55 RMB HOT CHOCOLATE AND SHOVE IT “BLENZ”. And they were delicious. We ate them beside other silent people fueling themselves for their day of work.
We also had a few steamed buns, one with some kind of garlicy green vegetable, and a giant ta siu bao one. 1 RMB each. And some of that fried turnip square thingy too. Yum.
We wandered through fancy areas and definitely NOT fancy areas. The alleys were super neat in a crazy overwhelming way (no pictures though, that would have felt weird).
We tried to sneak into the tallest hotels and office buildings so we could get a view of the city, but didn’t really succeed. I am curious what the 6th floor of this hotel was for..
Oh and to complete the experience, two separate groups of people asked us to take a picture with them. It’s always weird.. Oh sure I’ll take a picture of you and your group of friends… Oh you want us to be IN the picture… Oh you want separate pictures with each of us… umm ok… hahaha. My coworker who is from Guangzhou says that there isn’t that much Western tourism there yet so seeing a whitey is pretty special for some people. I just wonder what they do with these pictures??
Anyway after a few hours of wandering and eating we did a little bit of shopping at Uniqlo with our extra Chinese cash and then caught the subway back to the airport. Full stomachs and nice and tired out for the next long flight home. We had a really positive experience and I’m glad I got to show Scott a little about what I experienced back when I lived in Beijing. Way better than staying in the stupid airport.