Today I shopped Guangzhou’s famous watch market. Why is it famous? Because you can buy a “Rolex” for 100 RMB or approximately 14 USD. Of course, you must engage in a silly drawn out negotiation as the watch purveyors go on and on about “quality.” I’m sure, even at 14 dollars, I probably overpaid but they basically beat you into submission with overexaggerated gestures and unintelligible rebuttals. Furthermore, the location of this market is directly adjacent to a large bus/train station. I did not understand the gravity of scheduling a trip to China so close to Chinese New Year. The sea of Chinese fleeing the city for the upcoming weeklong holiday is utterly amazing and can’t be appreciated in pictures. Think Christmas on steroids in a country of over a billion people. On top of that we made the mistake of leaving the watch market during rush hour. Long lines to purchase subway tickets, no personal space in subway cars, and over an hour wait for an available taxi. Guangzhou makes Chicago feel like Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Archer took me to Baiyun Mountain and for only 5RMB, which is .73 USD, we were able to hike most of the mountain which rises high above the city center and offers spectacular photo opportunities. Although the steep climb sapped my energy, I found farmiliar nourishment to keep me going.
In celebration of Chinese New Year, I was invited to join other IT folks from the Guangzhou office in a traditional Chinese “hot pot” dinner. I was told by the local IT Director, that the restaurant we were dining at was the most famous in Guangzhou.
The dinner started with soup with vegetables, maybe mushrooms, in it and tea. I’ve come to realize that tea is to Chinese restaurants like water is to American restaurants. The main courses included almost nothing recognizable. About nine times I asked Archer, “What is this?” When it comes to food I’m not the most adventurous person but I do believe in experiencing the culture when you are traveling in an unfarmiliar country. So I dug in and tried eel (chopped but whole with skin and all), chicken and goat intestines, peanut covered beef, bao, and other foods that I couldn’t name. The one food I could not bring myself to try were the chicken feet. I almost had myself convinced it might taste good, then I saw the talon. No matter how much Cholula I soaked it in, I don’t think I can eat something like this.
Aftwards, we walked to an establishment where we rented a couple rooms which contained tables, for cardplaying, and TVs. Beer and snacks were sold at the front desk. There were many other rooms with people playing cards, drinking, smoking, and socializing. It looked like a popular place to wind down after the work week.
My coworker Archer, invited me to play soccer with him in a sort of pickup league. The gym was the fifth story of an old apartment building. Two things I should have done before playing: I should have practiced a little before jumping in because I sucked and really embarrassed my heritage and secondly, I think a little stretching would have helped since I woke up with an extremely tight lower back. I could barely stand the morning after.
We took the subway then walked through a food market to get to the soccer gym. The food market fascinated me as every inch of this confined area was filled with vendors selling fresh fruit, tea, spices, vegetables, and assorted meats and seafood. It reminded me a bit of Pike Place in Seattle. I decided to snap a picture to document the experience. Just as I was taking the picture a woman noticed that I was aiming right at her (although she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time). You can see she wasn’t too happy. She scurried up to me afterwards and yelled at me in Chinese. I just smiled and nodded.
It may be time to look for warmer pastures. I’m just glad I’m in South China for another week.
“It was colder Thursday afternoon in Chicago than at the North Pole—6 degrees below zero here versus 8 degrees [at the North Pole].”
The Garden Hotel stipulates some pretty strict guest rules. No wrestling and all guests must leave by 11pm? Ugh.
Notice, after Harvin slaps Urban’s ass, you can’t tell what Urban is saying or whether he is just scowling but certainly Harvin’s face shows he’s thinking, “Fuck, coach did not like that.”