Guangzhou – January 20, 2007

21 01 2007

2007-01-20 (Saturday.  Hellooooo Weekend!)

It was luxury time on Saturday – I got to sleep in.  The van wasn’t coming by until 1000 to pick me up!  One of my colleagues had been “volunteered” to show me around today, and of course we had the van driver too.

It was nice to have the paper being delivered to my room, since I wasn’t getting my news from other sources, it was as if I was getting a morning paper if I just ignored it until breakfast.  Down at breakfast I enjoyed a relaxing meal, while reading the paper.  It had a supplement about the upcoming Olympics.  Interesting to see the progress and excitement from a Chinese standpoint.  When I finished, I went down to wait for the van.  It was COLD.  Back up to the room and a mental thank you to my wife for making sure I packed the long sleeved fleece. (Love ya dear!)  With my warm fleece on, I was ready to head out.  I got back downstairs just in time for the van.  Excellent.

I got in the van and found out that it was raining in GZ proper.  Hmmm.  That didn’t bode well.  We headed out to a family shrine (similar in concept to the Chu shrine on Cheng Chau, but MUCH larger)  IT was built in  1863, and reflected the architectural style of the time.  A lot of grey brick construction.  Being winter, it was pretty quiet, and I think there MAY have been a couple of other people there, but I can’t be sure.  There was quite a bit of construction and renovation ongoing, so it would appear that they are probably sprucing it up for the summer.  It was an interesting place.  The second place we went to was a large Taoist temple (actually 3 temples in one) at Yuanxuan(sp?).  It was really large, and had similar styling to Tian Tan, with circular temples rather than the classic Buddhist square ones.  They had an expansive grounds, and everything was very nicely kept.  I learned that similar to the Buddhist concept of the Kings of heaven, they have 40 “Kings” (protectors) which each have a year associated with them.  I took some pics of my guy, and Mrs D’s.  It had rained pretty consistently since the first place we visited, and this really put a damper in the quality of some of the pictures that were available 😦  The circular ceilings inside the temples, however did give up at least one beautiful Yin and Yang picture.  It was very pretty, and I was certainly disappointed by the fact that it just kept raining.

After these two visits, it was lunch time.  We headed down to downtown and met up with the Lab manager.  We were going for Hunan food!  We ended up at a restaurant called “Maojia Restaurant”, translating to “Mao’s Restaurant”.  The lab manager ordered the food while consulting us.  I said “Order whatever you want.. I’ll give it a try.” 
We had Frog in chilies, turtle soup, bamboo shoots, and sweet potato “vermicelli-like” noodles.  It was (of course) quite spicy.  It was also VERY good. I put aside my whole amphibian prejudice, and just enjoyed the food as “food”.  It was good.  We had some local beer, Zhu Liang (which is what I’ve been drinking at the hotel too).  The beer is all quite light, and goes down well when your mouth is on fire. 🙂  I suppose it was a nice change for our van driver to be able to join us for lunch too.

Our last stop after lunch was the Chen Clan Academy, aka Chen Ancestal Hall which had since been turned into an art gallery for local art done in the ancient styles.  There were beautiful “paintings” done with wood and rocks, and pasted as a collage.  Beautiful 3D relief effect.  Photos just COULDN’T capture it.   They had some really nice stone carvings, and clay sculptures, all done recently in the style of years past.  There were etched glass pictures, which apparently are etched using Hydrofluoric acid – YIKES!  Very pretty etched glass windows.  The one thing that caught me by surprise was that they also had ivory carvings.  RECENT ivory carvings 😦  There were beautiful, intricate carvings of 30 layered balls carved from the ivory, and tusks that had entire stories and carved onto them using 3D people. VERY cool, but…  Of course we all know that the Ivory trade is banned internationally due to the rather fatal effect it has on elephants.  Depressingly this doesn’t appear to be the fact in China.  You could even buy some pieces, and there was a reminder that it would not likely be importable into your home country due to the ban in ivory trade world wide.   While I understand the desire to keep alive the old traditions, some things need to become memories, for the good of our planet.

When we had finished visiting the gallery,  my colleague was going to head out and visit a friend, and I was headed back to the hotel.  It was a long drive back to the hotel. Probably 40 minutes or so.  kind of awkward sitting in the van with the driver, as he doesn’t know any English.   Got back home, and transferred photos and got some uploaded (taking advantage of an actually responsive Internet for a change).  I figured I’d try the hamburger down in the bar for dinner that night.   I got down around 1830, and settled in to the tunes of the band and a beer.  It was COLD down there.  The girls must have been freezing in their sleeveless outfits.  I had the burger.  It was quite good, and cost about $6CAD.  Bed time came early that night.  It had been a long day, so I headed up to my room around 2100, and fell asleep watching some movie.   Woke up briefly at about 0200 and turned off the lights and TV 🙂  Back to sleep.   Nothing planned for Sunday, so I figured I’d go out on Sunday and wander a bit during the day to take pictures of the crazy traffic.  g’nite.

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