For Christmas in China, we decided to hit the town and met up with Steve, one of the FedEx rep here who worked with my ex husband, JR.
Since we lived in the suburb (well almost a suburb) we took a bus, mind you I haven’t ride a bus in such a long time it felt like a flashback, only this time I was in China instead of Jakarta. The bus was clean and cost 12 RMB (about $1.75) per person. Lil’ A was free of charge. We got off by the Metro (subway) station of Sanyuanli. JR saw something and said he’ll be right back so Lil’ A and I waited in front a bank. He came back with what he called a Chinese version of Egg McMuffin which was super delicious!
We went into the Metro station underground, it was really nice, modern and clean but I decided not to take pictures inside. Taking the Metro is surely one of the convenience way to get around town because the signs and announcements are in English. Hopped on the Metro then got off somewhere I forgot the name but it was in downtown area of Guangzhou.
We walked down to Pearl River to meet Steve who’s been wandering around with his big Nikon camera. He suggested that we headed to see the Sacred Heart Cathedral but we decided to get a new stroller for Lil’ A since we didn’t bring his stroller and that was a huge mistake! Luckily this is China, so a stroller comes super cheap. We got ours for only 200 RMB ($30).
I was fascinated by the Sacred Heart Cathedral, it is not only beautiful but it’s also looks so majestic especially with its history. We went inside, well actually Steve and I did to take pictures while JR kept Lil’ A outside since he started to get tired and about ready to take his nap.
When we were done at the Cathedral, Steve suggested we stroll down to Shamian Island then have lunch there. Well, it’s not really an island as the location is divided by a canal where the British used to settle a long time ago.
We walked through markets, different sections of the markets are very interesting. From the toys area to the packing sellers who sells plastics for packaging down to stationery. We even passed a part of the market that was super crowded, almost as crowded as the famous Beijing Lu but this street is a lot smaller. One can really feel claustrophobic in there.
We then got to Shanmulan Lu, Steve who has been living on and off in China for 9 years have wide extensive knowledge of the histories here besides being super fluent in Chinese, told me that the famous SARS break out was started in that very street.
Shanmulan Lu used to be the street where people sell wild, exotic even extinct animals. Not only that these people live there in the houses surrounding the street but they also kept their wild stocks alongside their own pets thus the virus transferred from wild animals (supposedly a bat) into a pet then into human.
The street now only have a few animals sellers but they mostly sell turtles, scorpions and traditional Chinese medicine (herbs). They even had a traditional Chinese medicine school built in the area. Seeing those scorpions crawling in bowls and buckets after buckets made my skin crawl. But hey, this is China and it is considered normal to eat them although I’m not very interested in trying.
Steve said by the time we get to Shamian island the atmosphere will be different. More tranquil, and he was right. There wasn’t as many people there and you can really see the influence of British architectures there. The lushes green parks provides shades and fresh feelings from the hustling and bustling of downtown Guangzhou.
We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant that serves Christmas feasts but we were more interested in trying their Asian meals. It was a nice place. That area is very close to the American Consulate and we saw some parents out and about with their newly adopted children.
After a late lunch, we went down to Pearl River again and just stroll around taking pictures. Steve suggested that we take a ride in one of the cruise boats that goes along the Pearl River but we passed that idea because somebody or I should say some boy was getting bored and it wouldn’t be a very nice experience to ride that boat with a screaming toddler.
Steve invited us to his apartment across the Pearl River. We took a crossing boat to get there then walk some more. I told Mr. X that I never walked that much in my whole life before. I should’ve lost about 2-3 pounds at the end of the day with the walking that we were doing.
At his apartment, showed us the view from his 29th floor’s balcony. It was kinda scary to be standing up that high and looking down but since it was getting dark I didn’t feel too scared. We talked a lot about photography and he gave me pointers, even let me used his tripod to take a better picture from his balcony.
From there Mr. X wanted us to go have dinner at Pandan (Indonesian Restaurant). Too bad we got lost because that place isn’t very well known or easy to spot so we called it a night and headed home instead. My feet were throbbing and poor Lil’ A threw up in the cab, probably from a bottle of orange juice we gave him without diluting it first. He’s fine now so nothing to worry about.
So, that’s the long story of
our first Christmas in China. I sure do miss the familiar feelings of Christmas with our families in both corners of the world but I am thankful for this opportunity to experience living here.
Hope you had a blessed Christmas!