Friday, December 9, 2011

9. Back to Guangzhou

I was hoping that the hotel in Guangzhou getting back from my tour of the countryside would be situated someplace more interesting, but it’s the same one. Way out at the convention center next to nothing much. Awww. I’ve seen this hotel. It’s boring.

But the bathwater is hot and the towels fluffy.

In the morning BIT is offering me the one-day tour of the city for free. The least they can do after making a mint off me with the cancelled trip. They must be raking it in, these guys, between what westerners expect to pay for a trip and what it actually costs. A guide and a driver for the day are well within the margins.

Somehow in getting ready, I manage to leave my camera outside of my bag. Which is not such a bad thing. Sometimes when you’re touring you spend so much attention getting pictures of stuff that you don’t pay much attention to what’s actually going on. I’m fine with a day of paying more attention to remembering stuff, not counting on having it in pictures for later.

The other effect, though, is to speed things up considerably, which gives us a really fast pace - the other speed factor being that there’s nobody else on this tour. With a group it takes so much longer just to walk down the block for every body added.

We see some things that I wandered past on my own, but they’re on the schedule so we’re going back.

First - the Sun Yat Sen Memorial. Very pretty from the outside. Inside it’s just a big auditorium. A nice one. They’re busy setting up a show for this evening, or we could go up on the stage. Darn.

Sun Yet Sen, though, is more than just a local hero. He’s the father of modern China, the one who got all of the modernization going before Mao. Now that that era is gone, people are getting back to just how great SYS was.

Second - Yue Xiu park for another look at the 5-goat statue. It’s about the same the second time. None of the goats have moved. There’s still a huge crowd of people playing hackey-sack, only instead of little beanbags, they bounce things that look like badminton birdies with a spring. We’re ahead of schedule, so we spend some time playing. It’s a lot harder than it looks. You have to get your foot under there in time, and not send it off into the bushes. People play this in groups of half a dozen or so, and it’s great exercise.

I think it would be neat to practice at home, so I buy one. This lets me discover that, like Sam, my guide is not interested in helping me get a good price. 10% off is all. That’s ridiculous, but it’s only in hindsight that I resolve to argue a fair price.

After that we visit the site of the tomb of a very early dynasty that was unearthed only in the last couple of decades when they started digging the foundations for a new block of apartments. Second century or something if I remember (I’m 3 weeks late with the blog!) correctly. It’s a small place, but nicely done. You can visit the excavated tomb itself, which now is just empty space, the coffins and afterlife supplies having been removed.

What I find most interesting is not the site itself as the fact that they now know where to look for other sites from the same era, and they’re deliberately not doing it because the stuff they unearthed here degraded instantly when exposed. They want to come up with a way of saving the artifacts before losing them, before opening the next tomb. Which is refreshingly thoughtful in go-go-go China.

1 comment:

Titus said...

Ooh, that early dynasty stuff is interesting.
So right about leaving the camera behind!