Day 4

Day 4 Mainland China – Ghangzhou   We heard once we reached Mainland China internet access would be free.  Our hotel in Guangzhou calls broadband WiFi.  It’s not.  I was able to get connected and hope to post photos when I have more time.  It’s been a brisk pace so far.  Anyway, once I was able to log on, I discovered I can’t access the Longmont Youth Symphony website.  It’s blocked for some reason.    The blackberries on the trip can access it…  But, the rehearsals for the big concert are today and tomorrow and after that I hope to have the kids post some entries.  They just haven’t had time – they’re having too much fun and working hard to get ready for the concert.

Day – 4   We boarded the buses by 10 to move to the border crossing.  Once we reached the border, we got off the buses with the documents, stand in a line to get processed out of Hong Kong then reload the buses, move a mile, this time unload the luggage and have it x-rayed by an unmanned machine, stand in another line to get processed into China.  Then you reload the buses and move 1 mile to change buses.  Apparently you need different permits to drive in China and change the side of the road.  Needless to say, this took a while and lots of patience.   We drove about an hour to Shen Zen for lunch.  It’s an interesting place that was a small village until the 1980’s.  Now it’s something like 11 million people with all modern buildings.

We ate lunch in a banquet hall.  The amusing thing was it was the first time the kids ran into a Chinese toilet.  It’s basically a flat urinal in the ground.  The girls were horrified.  It actually wasn’t a true Chinese toilet as it had paper.    One girl mentioned she was having technical difficulties with the toilets.  You can find western toilets in many places and the hotels have them but the kids adapted pretty quickly.    We drove on to Guangzhou and visited Chen’s Ancestral Temple.  It was a beautiful temple with lots of interesting art displays – carved olive pits, ivory, wood etc.  The building was heavily decorated but with the pollution it has to be repainted every year.   The kids got their first taste of affordable shopping – lots of wind instruments and knick knacks.

When we arrived at the hotel, we had some issues.  There were heavy monsoon rains this year so mold is everywhere and bugs.  With the heavy rains, the hotel basement flooded to the point that cars were floating.  It’s a historic hotel – translation – old but is located right on the Pearl River.

We had dinner on a river boat and that was a blast.  The river is lit up with neon and lasers.  The kids met others on the boat and had a great time enjoying the view.   It was truly unique- laser light shows, buildings with full digital displays and huge big screens on boats and the shore.   Guangzhou is a mix of old and new.  The Asian games are here in 160 days so they are sprucing up the place.  That means any building side that faces a road is getting a facelift. The backside isn’t being done. Scaffolding is primarily bamboo.  Seeing multiple stories of bamboo scaffolding is interesting.  Signs displaying the number of days until the game are everywhere.

The kids are amazed at the traffic.  Lanes seem to be a suggestion.  If the road is 4 lanes, it’s really 6 or 7.  Often there aren’t painted lanes.  Our bus frequently makes U-turns in the middle of major intersections and often just misses random pedestrians.  It leads to lots of excitement on the bus.  Sophie the travel guide calls new drivers killer drivers.  There seem to be plenty of new drivers.    This morning, the kids headed to a botanical garden – a beautiful setting for a rehearsal.  It’s an outdoor venue and is surrounded by tropical plants, various eco systems and open grass.  Some of the chaperones left for a tour while the kids rehearsed.  We visited a tomb, 2 parks, Starbucks and a bank.  All important cultural locations.  We returned to the park to eat with the kids.  Their rehearsal went well enough this morning that they got the afternoon off to wander the park or relax.  They come back to rehearse again at 4 and have an informal concert in the park.  There is a full Chinese orchestra accompanying Justin.   It’s hot and humid so the kids are adjusting to that and borrowed instruments.  Lost in translation… The bathrooms have the phrase “carefully slip”.  We try our best.

Posted in China Trip 2010.