The honeymoon period is far from over. After two months in Guangzhou, Helen and I still love it. We’ve been on holidays since last Thursday, and have already done a lot. We spent the morning of China’s 60th

celebration of the revolution at B and Q, a big hardware barn. We bought quite a lot of stuff, including a small step ladder, because we intended to get it all delivered. However, the delivery was going to take three days. Helen flagged a taxi, and he solved the step ladder problem by laying the front passenger seat flat, and sliding it in. We squeezed into the back seat, and most of our stuff went in the boot.

We then got the driver to travel 100m across a carpark to Metro, a huge food barn. He enjoyed a couple of cigarettes while we acquired a Metro card, and raced around to purchase a few essentials, mainly wine and spirits. I spent the afternoon putting up photos and other artefacts on our walls.

On Friday morning we repeated the trip to the Garden Hotel on the estate minibus, then caught a taxi to the Cloth and String market, to collect curtains that Helen had commissioned the week before. The hideous soft furnishings on display seemed endless. Nearby, we found an electrical market, and Helen bought a difficult-to-procure hand mixer. We also got an idea of television prices.

Saturday saw Helen cooking for the evening, while I caught the mini bus into town. I was going to the Tiane He computer malls to look for a TV, but wandered into Suning at Grandview Mall. I eventually settled on a 32-inch Haier, which was delivered just over an hour after I got home. The manual is in Chinese, but I managed to change the on-screen instructions into English. Guests arrived in the evening, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner after drinks in the garden. It was the Autumn Moon festival, and there were fireworks going off everywhere. (I could see them in shops in the village, however.)

Helen stayed at home on Sunday, while I went for a long walk down through the village and beyond. It is still quite hot, but not as bad as it has been. I wandered in and out back alleys, looking at the range of shops. There seems to be a barbershop every hundred metres, and expat urban legend has it that many of these are fronts for prostitution. I had set out in search of a massage, but didn’t find anywhere suitable. Maybe it was because I was looking around the middle of the day, when most people were playing cards or mahjong, but the few “spas” were either sleazy looking, or the staff didn’t relish dealing with a non-Chinese-speaking foreigner.

In the afternoon we trekked up the hill to a rotunda above the estate, which give a good view over it back to the gloom of the city. We had a G & T and some nibbles while we watched the sun set.

Monday saw us again on the estate bus to the Garden Hotel. About a kilometre short of it, we were side swiped by a kid driving his mother around. We, and they, halted on an overpass, while our driver and the mother remonstrated. We sat motionless, apparently waiting for the constabulary. He appeared, trudging up the overpass, because he thought the better of riding his motorcycle the wrong direction up it. He brought a bit of sanity to the situation by (obviously) pointing out that negotiations would be better carried out 200m down the road off the overpass. When the driver pulled in at the kerb, five of us alighted and walked the 500m to the hotel.

Helen made a hair appointment, and we then set out, by taxi, for the jade market. It is amazing – it appears that there is enough jade there to equip the entire population of the planet with a set of earrings and a bangle each. We found some antique shops to poke around in, and Helen marked the adjoining pearl and jewellery market, and nearby Shangxiajui shopping street for future reference. After lunch at McD’s (because Helen didn’t want to waste browsing time), I caught a taxi home, and Helen went to get her hair cut.

In the evening, friends came around for a drink, and then we caught a taxi to the neighbouring estate for a reasonable Chinese meal. Helen and I walked home through Yong Tai, which really comes alive at night.

Today, I wrote most of this on the train to Hong Kong, where we will spend a couple of days relaxing (me) and shopping (Helen).  Catching the train was relatively painless, although I was a bit apprehensive when the Immigration woman handed me a bookmark that stated I would need another entry permit to come back – I realised, after looking at Helen’s passport, that she had looked at my original entry visa and not my resident visa. The bigger drama was that, about 10 minutes from HK, Helen realised it was the 6th, and that she had booked for the 7th and 8th! We have to stay 3 nights, not 2. It will give me a chance to catch up on Facebook and Xanga, which have recently been successfully nobbled by the PRC.


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