Out On The Streets

On the last day of this tour, having had little time for shopping over the past two weeks, some of us (meaning my wife and her friends) decided to skip the scheduled tour and hit the streets. We wound up at the Ladies Market, two blocks of stalls full of interesting items, most of somewhat questionable origin and prices that are only a starting point for haggling. I just wish they offered free wifi.

Later in the day I made my way to the tram that takes passengers to the top of Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island and a trip all the guide books say every visitor to the area should make. So, what do you find at the top? A shopping center, of course, one that includes the very American Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. However, you also get this incredible view of the city.

In a few hours we start the long journey home. At least it’s not on Air China this time.

Not Exactly China

Our tour today took us from Guangzhou to Hong Kong by bus, a trip that should have taken about 2 -1/2 hours except for a roadblock thrown up by the Chinese government. I was under the impression that in 1997, when the British lease expired, Hong Kong became part of China again. However, they seem to be treating the area as a different country, complete with this border crossing facility where we had to take our luggage off the bus and go through an immigration and customs control process. Most of which consisted of standing in line, stern looking people comparing our documents to a computer screen, and stamping forms.

Anyway, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring the area, taking the Star Ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island (we are staying in the Kowloon district) to get a panoramic view of their iconic skyline. More time to look around today and I’m looking forward to taking the tram up to Victoria Peak tonight.

The Traditional and The Modern

Today was another where we got to see multiple sides of China and I’ve had a hard time picking two shots to represent the day. I’m on my third 64gb memory card so it will take a while after we get back to sort through all the images and post some sets.

Anyway, during one of our walks this morning we passed through a market with stalls offering the raw ingredients for traditional medical treatments, like these dried sea horses. Probably no coincidence the market was right next to a hospital. Our guide said that most people in the country still depend on home brew remedies since the health system cannot handle the demand.

Then here’s another side of Guangzhou, the opera house in which the choir I’m traveling with performed last night. Looks a little like a space craft out of any number of scifi movies or TV shows. And it’s very low profile compared to the surrounding buildings which, as in all the cities we’ve visited, are massive and don’t skimp on the LED lights. BTW, you can catch Riverdance here in July.

Next we head to Hong Kong, our final stop on this tour.

Travel Day

Not much interesting today. We flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou, the third largest city in China (4th largest in the world with about 24 million people), a major trading center, and a place I knew almost nothing about before doing research for this trip. But the flight was delayed three hours for weather so instead of Guangzhou we got to experience a waiting room in the Shanghai airport for a while. Not much different from many U.S. terminals.

After finally arriving we did have a little time to walk through the area around our hotel and came across this dance exercise group in a large downtown park. Lots of other people were out for an evening walk in the high heat and humidity, a big change from Shanghai which was pleasantly mild during our stay. This part of China is in a tropical region, at about the same latitude as Havana, Cuba.

Two Cities

I took so many pictures today in Shanghai, it's difficult to pick just two to represent our experiences. The top is a view many people have seen (at least in photos), a cluster of skyscrapers, each taller than the next and brightly lit at night. The bottom is a band we happened across while visiting the beautiful Fuxing Park in the former French area of the city. An example of a quiet, human moment in an incredibly large and chaotic city. And they were pretty good.