A continuation! Part one is here. Again, mouseover bold items for addresses & notes.
– NOV 08-
[tooltip text=”No.2 Wenchang South Road in Liwan District”]Guangzhou Restaurant (广州酒家)[/tooltip] is one of my favorite places to get dimsum in GZ because not only is the food excellent, but also because the decor is so lovely and it makes me feel a bit like a [tooltip text=”Literally: Xiguan Miss. Xiguan is a geographical division of Guangzhou in Liwan District. It’s a bit of an old term to use, but you will still hear it used to refer to the historically prosperous area around Litchi Bay. Xiguan Miss was an expression used to refer to single women from wealthy families who were perceived as ‘cultured’ because of their education and manners.”]西關小姐[/tooltip] having afternoon tea (▰˘◡˘▰) The unfortunate reality is that the restaurant, like so many of China’s establishments, don’t have a public smoking policy, so almost the entirety of the first floor (the koi pond & the bird cages!!) is covered in a haze of cigarette smoke. Of course, you can request a non-smoking table on the second or third floors, but you might have to make a trip downstairs for some of the dimsum.
All of the tea at the restaurant is served as Gongfu Tea (功夫茶), but the staff abbreviates it to make life easier. Luckily, after the first cup is poured, you’re left to drink/brew at your own speed.
Halfway through our meal, a camera crew from TVS walked in, took a shot of the dining area and then started interviewing the couple at the table next to us. Our first instinct was PANIC – “ARE THEY GOING TO INTERVIEW RANDOM PEOPLE? I DONT KNOW IF I WANT TO BE ON TV??” – but we got a glare from the camera man for staring, which made us realize that it was a scheduled meeting. Suddenly a flurry of waitresses entered the room carrying pots of abalone & sea cucumber casserole, plates of peking duck, bowls of shark’s fin soup and started setting up table-top stoves. I think everyone was staring at this point because it was 10 in the morning, there was way too much food for 2 people and the interview was NOT about the restaurant’s cuisine. My only guess is that it was a show of extravagance? L O L.
The camera man took one more shot of the room before the crew left and I am positive I was in the process of wiping my nose. THIS IS WORRISOME because my aunt called to tell us that she saw my mom on television and we both just groaned because we tried so desperately not to be filmed. Fingers crossed that I’m not in the shot, but I have no idea where to look to confirm this??????
A lot of the commercial buildings in the older area of Guangzhou look dated, but it’s all a preservation of Lingnan architectural style: pillars in front of stores and a second or third story with a balcony and stained glass windows. It’s a mix of Chinese and European aesthetics based on tenement buildings and teahouses. A little bit hilarious (and sad??) to see giant ads for KFC splashed on the side of these gorgeous buildings.
My mom was on a hunt for a set of Fu Lu Shou (福祿壽) and we wandered around before we made our way to the [tooltip text=”Onelink International Plaza, No. 39 Jiefang South Rd in Yuexiu District”]Onelink International Wholesale Market (广州万菱广场玩具精品批发中心)[/tooltip] which is an enormous 8-story emporium with EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE. There is a floor for toys, jewelry, apparel, electronics, ceramics, glasswork, stationery etc. Anything and everything!! There are even stores that sell zakka inspired coffee shop decor – BECAUSE WHY NOT. The only catch is that with small items, you have to buy a large amount (it’s wholesale afterall) or at least appear to be interested in buying wholesale in order for the vendors to actually pay you any attention. My mom is really good at the latter approach.
– NOV 09-
Rainy day dimsum with my mom’s friends at [tooltip text=”285号 Zhongshan 6th Rd in Yuexiu District. Approximate address is above the Empero Bakery near Ximenkou station on the Metro 1 line.”]Cuisine Delight[/tooltip], a small but very pretty teahouse. I was spoiled with dimsum as “the adults” chatted HEHE.
We headed to the ultra posh [tooltip text=”No.208 Tianhe Road in Tianhe District. Metro 1 Line to TiYu XiLu station. Exit C”]Tee Mall (天河城广场)[/tooltip] in the Tianhe District to camp out for a few hours while it rained. Most of the shops tend to be higher end international shops, although if you look hard enough, there are some local boutique brands which are equally pricey. I stopped for overpriced hot chocolate from Starbucks and very slow wi-fi.
Afterwards, we took the train to [tooltip text=”Metro 1 or 2 line to Gong Yuan Qian Station”]Beijing Pedestrian Street (北京路步行街)[/tooltip], which is a really lovely shopping area with tons of stores and local eats. I’ve only ever visited during the day so a night visit was a new experience for me. I do think the area is prettier during the day hehe. If you venture off the main path, there are lots of alleyways and surrounding streets with hidden surprises. My favorite place to get pig’s blood and beef entrails is a small shop in an alley and there’s another that leads to a maze of knockoff designer bag vendors.
The coolest thing about Beijing Road is that it sits on top of street remains from the Ming Dynasty and there is a whole section in the middle of the street that has been excavated and displayed beneath a glass floor. You don’t see much because it’s dark, but it’s a strange feeling knowing there’s hundreds of years of history beneath you.
It was pretty late by the time we were done shopping so we headed back to a restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner. I’m surprised this is the first time I’m mentioning it because we go so often, but we love the [tooltip text=”No. 133 Heng Bao Plaza 3rd Floor in Liwan District. Metro 1 line to Chang Shou Lu station.”]Choi Xing Seafood Restaurant (彩星鱼翅海鲜酒家)[/tooltip] in Heng Bao Plaza (恒宝广场).
– NOV 10, 11 & 12 –
A couple of slow days spent with my grandmother. I also had my hair re-straightened, but I’m blanking on which day it was. I do remember struggling to make conversation with the hair stylist who asked me to explaining the concept of cell phone plans in Mandarin. HA HA HELP. Leaving out all the details of the hair process, but if you’re interested in thermal reconditioning/japanese straightening and want to hear about it, let me know!
We spent a lot of time on [tooltip text=”Not exactly accessible by train or bus, but: Metro 1 line to ChangShou Lu Station. Exit near Heng Bao Plaza and walk along BaoHua Lu till it crosses paths with ShangJiu Lu – the upper half of the pedestrian street.”]ShangXiaJiu Pedestrian Street (上下九步行街)[/tooltip] which is this great commercial shopping area with 300+ shops, really cheap street food and the Lingnan architecture I mentioned before. It’s literally a shopping paradise, but you’ll have to put up with the heckling from shop staff telling you to come in and check it out and wow a sale!!! In the photo above, underneath the sign of the three figures and the orange cube, there’s an alleyway that is a cute mini eat street with vendors serving Korean styled grilled octopus legs, grilled oysters, Sichuan noodles, Manchurian style lamb skewers, and my FAVORITE, fresh ground sweet sesame soup (芝麻糊).
My mom had a silk comforter made for the coming winter and as always, it was a interesting process to watch. The price of a comforter depends on the dimension, desired thickness and the proportion of silk and cotton used to assemble the blanket – so before the process starts, there is a discussion about things like how big the comforter needs to be & what kind of weather it is to be used in. The one we had made was a 3kg comforter with 50/50 silk and cotton. First a cotton fabric is laid down and then the staff unrolls giant bundles of silk and cotton which are weighed to the proportions previously decided. Then the material is stretched to the proper dimension and laid down alternating silk and cotton. Finally, another cotton lining is laid on top and the staff hand sews the comforter together to complete it. A really well maintained silk comforter will last a long time if you know how to take care of it and is great for all weather U_U.
WOW I have a lot of feelings about blankets!!
– NOV 13 –
I regret that I don’t have any photos of dimsum at [tooltip text=”20号 Dishifu Rd in Liwan District”]TaoTaoJu Restaurant (陶陶居酒家)[/tooltip], another old brand restaurant build ing 1880!!!! Really delicious food with a congee chef to make you whatever congee mix you like.
We spent the afternoon on Renmin Lu (人民路) and stumbled on Zhuangyuan Fang / Scholar’s Square (状元方), a tiny and packed alleyway with vendors selling mostly accessories and small pieces of apparel (ie not fur coats etc). Also no photos, unfortunately, but it was absolutely packed – can you imagine?!. After a day of hearty shopping, we went back to Liwan Plaza for dinner at The Taste and then did some night shopping in ShangXia Jiu Pedestrian Street.
– NOV 14 –
Our second to last full day in Guangzhou! We didn’t have anything planned so we took a day trip to see the newly constructed [tooltip text=”Metro Line 3 to Chigang Pagoda Station”]Canton Tower (广州塔)[/tooltip] in Haizhu District.
For breakfast, we had Guilin rice noodles (桂林米粉) with beef, toasted peanuts and pickled green beans.
Canton Tower was impressive! It is the fourth tallest free-standing structure in the world with super fancy luxury brands in the lobby like Mercedes-Benz and restaurants where the meal costs a good thousand yuan. I didn’t get a chance to go to any of the observation decks both because of $$$ and because I’m terrified of heights, but I was tempted for a moment to try the Top Deck viewing.
I have to say that I was really surprised by how … empty the whole area seemed. It was all very ultra modern and there were lots of guards patrolling the premises, but there were barely any locals or even tourists. Other than the shops and restaurants in the tower, there is nothing to do in the area so I shouldn’t be surprised. It just struck me as being very odd because the metro stop for the area is the Chigang Pagoda (赤岗塔), which is a very popular destination. A poignant juxtaposition having these two areas near each other – one old and traditional and the other new and sleek.
– NOV 15 –
A very rushed last day in Guangzhou! A lot of packing was done and farewell calls were made. There were some last minute runs for snacks, among them this deliiiiiiciousnesss. Two piping hot tarts for ¥1.50RMB, each that are the size of my entire hand!! We traveled to [tooltip text=”67号 Liwan Road in Liwan District. About a block or two away from Liwan Hospital of Guangzhou Medical College”]Jiale Egg Custard King (蛋撻王)[/tooltip] to get them and before you say THERE’S USED TO BE AN EGG CUSTARD KING IN CHINATOWN!! the answer is “NOPE.” Take the best egg custard tarts you’ve ever had an multiply it by 19283098320x and that is how good these are.
We had a midnight flight, but arrived at the airport around 9 to make time for customs and because we didn’t want to travel alone near midnight. From that point, it was a few hours till we were at Incheon, 4 or so hours of wait time and then yet another 13 hour flight back to New York, which was horribly cold!!
All in all, I did a bit of shopping and LOTS OF EATING!! It was a great trip, but a bit of a shame that it was so short. It was wonderful!! I can’t wait to go back~