posted Aug 24, 2010, 6:50 AM by Charles Boling   [ updated Aug 24, 2010, 7:08 AM ]

Tuesday 2010-08-24

Jonathan slept in until 8:00. He was getting restless (big surprise) and Charles was still sleeping (he had a hard evening the night before, between canker sores and the smells of the city and the thought of eating local food he felt quite ill). So Michele took Jonathan on a walk to get breakfast.

Never in her life did she ever think she'd come to rely on 7-11 for food :-) and consider it a “grocery store”. But the convenience, the mild selection and the reasonable prices made it an attractive option frequently. So, breakfast was 7-11 rice muffins and a yogurt drink for Jonathan.

Then they went on a walk to the park on the island. It was really interesting going there in the morning. The military was doing a drill – Michele snuck a picture of them :-). There were many people out doing exercises similar to what we saw in Fuzhou, but in addition to that there were at least half a dozen large groups of women gathered together, dancing (like line dancing) to music. It was all very slow and rhythmic – it gave a very peaceful feeling. Then, around the park there were also about 20 groups or so of 4 to 7 adults (men and women, 40 to 60 years old) playing the Chinese version of a hacky-sack game. The game – kicking it back and forth – was the same as in America, but the sack was similar to a badminton birdie with a flat rubber bottom. It was fun to watch. Then, the most amazing one, was a group of 30 or so women dancing like the line dancers, except these women each had a paddle and a ball. They balanced the ball on the paddle – even when they flipped it upside down and had it behind themselves. They even, in sync, tossed the ball to someone beside them – sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, all the while their bodies “flowing” in sync, with the music.

Michele and Jonathan wandered into a store and the owner, in typical pushy-salesman style encouraged them to stay while he wrote out (for free) Jonathan's name in English and Chinese in calligraphy. Michele actually found a set of crayons there too (quite the rarity here). It is so hard to find crayons, colored pencils and coloring books here!

After that they wandered back to the hotel room, Charles joined them, and we all set off for a day of adventures. We took the bridge (walking) over the big river that goes around the island and explored a new section of town (opposite direction to all the other ways we've gone). We actually found 3 mini-grocery stores. We bought some snacks for Jonathan for the trip home there, as well as some breakfast for Charles. We grabbed lunch at both 7-11 and McDonald's (one for Michele and Jonathan and one for Charles) and just walked and walked. It was interesting see the city that way. We ended up covering about 9 to 10 miles total in the loop we took (in 4 hours – including stopping quite awhile for lunch).

Editor's Note: Yesterday's and today's tracks, "Shopping" and "Exploring Haizhu", can be found on the "China Trip" map on the main page.  Just zoom in on Guangzhou.  As usual for this trip, Map Mode is offset, but Satellite Imagery is correct. Switch between the two and notice the difference.

When we got back we rested for just a moment (Jonathan wouldn't allow much more than that) and we went upstairs to explore the pool (it's on the roof). It wasn't very kid friendly – the fence around it had gaps big enough for Jonathan to slip through if he wanted to – so we likely won't be using it. Then we headed down and spent time in the kid's play room. We were there for maybe half an hour and we decided it was time to head out again and find dinner. So we went out the direction we were most familiar with and stopped and had some frozen yogurt. Then we wandered to the main plaza area and got some “meat on a stick” that is popular here. It's skewered meat of various kinds – great for eating and walking (unless you are pushing a stroller!). Michele had octopus (pretty good actually) while Charles went for the chicken breast and Jonathan had some undetermined kind of meat. Then we wandered home. That trip was short – only 3 miles (and the excursion yesterday was 7). We are putting some real miles on that stroller!

On the way home we stopped at 7-11 (third meal today!) and bought a little more food to supplement what we had already had. We came back to the room, ate, and got Jonathan ready and to bed.

Some interesting things of note. Like the plastic forks we had mentioned earlier, one of the things we actually did bring, that no one told us to, was a bunch of plastic grocery sacks. The stores here charge you for plastic sacks. So if you bring your own (which are quite free at home and light weight) then you save money!

A funny two line conversation about driving this morning that we thought was worth sharing (because it so aptly describes the driving “style” here). We were walking on a narrow one lane road, and in fact one car had just passed us going the correct way. We looked up and saw another car going the wrong way on the road. Michele said “I thought this was a one way street”. Charles, after watching what the car ended up doing said “Yes. But he's driving up along the sidewalk now, so that's OK.”.

Boy there are security guards, soldiers and police officers everywhere you go here. It's just amazing. The police wear blue with a hat that says, in English, “Police”. They are on almost every street and in every park and in most shopping centers. The security guards are in almost every large store and restaurant (even McDonalds) and they really like patrolling around. The military isn't as common – but you still see them frequently, both singly and in groups. they wear green – but their presence gives Michele the creeps because most wear a red arm band very similar to the red arm band worn by the Nazis.

Another thing – there are three American foods you just can't find over here that you could in Hong Kong: Cold cereal, peanut butter and jelly or jam (all the things needed for a nice quick meal in the hotel room!). Too bad!

The last entry said that we had really lucked-out when it came to the weather. Well, apparently we didn't knock on wood hard enough – because today was really wet! However, as opposed to at home, even in the pounding rain here it's hard to get cold. In fact, it was warm when we started out, but once we were quite a ways away it started to pour and it actually felt good (the rain combined with the wind made the heat almost bearable). But, Jonathan didn't like it much, so we spent much of the largest rainstorm in a grocery store. It rained lightly to heavily for all of our second walk. We were quite wet when we got home (it's hard to hold an umbrella and push a stroller at the same time). But again, the heat made it so we weren't cold in the slightest.

It was interesting watching the bike riders in the rain. Since such a large portion of the population rides bikes and it's the rainy season, they have adaptations. A few had a mount on the middle bar of their bicycle that had a pole that went up that they could attach their umbrella to. That worked sort-of, as long as they were going pretty slowly. The vast majority of people however, had a poncho that they wore over their head, bodies, arms and most of their legs that also was shaped so it would cover their handle bars, hands, and front basket almost to their front wheel.

Open slideshow in new tab/window