I don’t want to labour the point too much, but Helen and I cannot understand how anyone could not like living in Guangzhou. I’ve just spent a week in Hong Kong, and the average expat there loves it as much as Bali addicts love Bali, but I was looking forward to being back in a more open city. Each to their own, I suppose. We really liked Surabaya too, unlike many expats (and Surabayans, for that matter.) Like anything in life, where you live, is what you make it.

Still, Guangzhou has more than enough to make liking it easy. Yesterday we hit our favourite shopping area, Haizu Square. Helen cruised the shoe markets and I went to the toy market, which is more the remote-control-helicopter-and-car market. We met up at 1920 restaurant on the river for lunch. As it is a German restaurant, even the “snacks” are large.

Helen wanted to go to Wende Lu (Street), which is supposed to be an “art” street. It was lined each side with framing shops, which also sold reproductions. Helen was also looking for a stand for her growing collection of calligraphy brushes. We found a market, and wandered around. One painting, of old Guangzhou, took our interest. The young woman wanted more than we were prepared to pay for it, so we asked about others. She then uttered the classic Guangzhou statement – “We have more upstairs”.

 

Being Ubud fans, we are well used to rows of shops selling reproductions of paintings. Like everything, China takes it to a new level. The shop upstairs had a room in which thousands of canvases were laid out in piles, each with its own piece of plastic wrap for protection. It smelt like they had very recently been knocked up out the back somewhere.

 

We chose a nice (to us) old-Guangzhou scene, then went to another shop, downstairs, to have it framed. All up, it cost us about AU$60 for the framed painting.

The trip home was a different story. Chinese New Year entails an increased demand for less taxis. We’d had trouble getting one from 1920 to Wende Lu, but we’d left it too late this time. (It seems that, between 4.30pm and 7pm everyone is in “shift-change” mode. Transport workers have their meal at exactly the same time that everyone else needs them to go home.) After a fruitless hour of hailng taxis, which brought us to the famous Beijing Lu shopping street, we gave up. We’d elbowed the crowd out of the way to grab one taxi as its customers alighted, only for the “out of service” sign to be displayed. The taxis dried up, so we trudged another 700m to the far end of Beijing Lu where there is a metro station. However, once we got there, the first taxi stopped and took us home!

We had planned a restaurant meal in the city in the evening, but gave it up in favour of nibbles and a bottle of sparkly at home. Hopefully, the transport dilemma will sort itself out after Chinese New Year. In any case, by June, we are supposed to have a metro station down in the village, for the Asian Games, so we will be far less dependent on taxis. We are also exploring the purchase of a small car

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