This weekend, we set out bright and early for Haizu Square, this time, by metro, so as to avoid last time’s extended taxi ride. Enroute, Helen suggested that we get off a station early, and check out the famous shopping street, Beijing Lu. It has been well and truly sanitised since we walked it, 6 years ago. Helen spotted plenty of interesting shops.


We wandered down to the enormous shoe market at Haizu Square. I bought two pairs of shoes at pretty much the first men’s shoes shop we encountered. I haggled briefly, and paid. The bloke rang someone on his mobile, and then indicated that I should come back in 15 minutes. My return coincided with the arrival of one of my pairs of shoes from one of the central storehouses in a bicycle basket. I did another lap of the market while the second pair was delivered.


Helen set off back to Beijing Lu and I crossed the street, via the overpass, to the “One Link” centre. It is a 7-storey building with hundreds of little shops selling, to paraphrase the Chinese, ten thousand kinds of crap. However, amongst the froth and bubble are some shops selling good home wares. I poked around for nearly an hour then caught the metro home.


On Saturday evening we went across the street for a small gathering of colleagues which saw us home after midnight. Consequently, yesterday morning, we didn’t have time for our early-morning walk to the wet market. We had a buffett breakfast at a nearby hotel with friends, then trekked to IKEA to look at a mattress, amongst other things, It is amazing seeing all the locals trying out dining settings, beds etc. Many of those lounging about on the furniture have no intention of buying any. We ambled back past the market and bought the weekly fruit, veg and flowers. Later in the afternoon, Helen went to have a pedicure (and found the place had wi-fi) while I wandered up the street to find a DVD shop that had been recommended. It had a very good array of titles, and I’ll be back.


It has been very hot for all of our six weeks here. The locals, particularly women, nave a penchant for shading themselves from the sun with an umbrella. This, combined with their habit of meandering all over the street means that one has to be constantly on guard, or risk losing an eye.


Next weekend (fingers crossed) we’ll be moving out to the “suburbs” and meeting our container of stuff. Helen has been out for a look, and our prospective maid, Annie (with whom Helen has spoken by phone, but not yet met) has also been to put in her five yuan’s worth with the renovators. Things look very promising. We need a mattress and a TV to make the place habitable. We are pretty excited because, as well as being in a nice place with our own things, we can still access town easily on the weekends – the complex runs hourly buses, and only take about half an hour on a Saturday morning. According to Helen, the local village is fairly extensive. With all the shopping areas, as well as just interesting places, we could nearly stay the next three years only in Guangzhou and never get bored.


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