OK, actually, we did more in Guangzhou than just stuff our faces with dumplings, dumplings, and more dumplings. We wrote eleventeen blog posts! We went for long walks! We imitated street art and watched brides and grooms taking wedding portraits on Shamian Island, 沙面岛, which was a French and British concession for years where Chinese were not allowed. Weird, right?
I'll start with the dumplings, though, as dim sum (or yum cha) was really the reason we'd come to Guangzhou in the first place. Along with Hong Kong, Guangzhou is one of the parents of dim sum and boasts a wide variety of delicious tidbits.
When we asked at our hotel where the best dim sum could be found in town, they immediately directed us to Guangzhou Restaurant (Guangzhou Jie Jia; 广州饭店). The dim sum we had there was spectacular, though ordering was quite difficult. Sure, you get that same dim sum menu where you select items by checking them off. Unfortunately, that menu looks like this:
Through lots of miming and pointing and arm-waving, we managed to get an array of tasty dishes.
First, Logan's favorite, the baked BBQ pork buns (豬肉包子?). He said these were the best of his life to date.
Oh yeah, and turnip cakes tossed in spicy XO sauce (easy to spot, because the XO is in English on the menu - ha ha, aren't we clever!) and cheung fan (猪肠粉), a rice noodle roll stuffed with whole shrimp. Oh right, and a pot of pu'erh tea.
Ha! I bet you thought we were done! Well, we would have been, except we spotted the seafood tanks arrayed outside the restaurant.
So we ordered fresh eel, fried in a batter that included fermented tofu, and topped with a most generous piping of mayonnaise. The fermeted tofu wasn't that strong, adding a nicely funky note to the rich eel.
We also had dim sum at a couple of other places, and while all were good, none stood out like Guangzhou Restaurant. This sweet offering from Kai Yue Restaurant (you know what, cutting and pasting all this probably incorrect Chinese is making me lose my will to blog) in the Golden Palace hotel was worthy of note; pounded sticky rice dyed green, stuffed with crystals of sugar, sugarcane, and peanuts. It arrives looking just like a beautiful stick of fresh sugarcane.
After spending so much of our time eating, we had to at least TRY to walk a bit of this off. So, off to Shamian Island and its wide European-style streets!
We hijinked around and took pictures. I'm pretty sure this kid is playing marbles, but I thought it looked like he was coaxing squirrels with bits of food. I was more than happy to play the part.
There were a ton of statues on Shamian Island, and lots of greenery and nice strolling pathways. Though it's still a very large city (once known as Canton - hey, Cantonese, right?) it felt way more laid back than Shanghai.
Sometimes the statues got involved and tried to take pictures of us.
The island's mailboxes were pretty sweet, too. I don't think our HOA would take kindly to me painting our mailbox red and installing smiley faces, but I might have to try.
And... Markets! We stumbled into this one late in the day after accidentally getting off at the wrong subway station. oops.
They had a staggering array of goods. Beautiful eggs!
Greens, trimmed and ready for the pot!
The back of the market contained all the live chickens, and many of the seafood displays showed mostly skinned and filleted fish with their hearts still beating in their exposed chests. I'd forgotten about this aspect of Chinese marketgoing.
But even more surprising than that was the large crocodilian we spotted. Have you ever wondered what a crocodile cross-section looks like? Neither had we. But here it is!
Guangzhou. Altogether a good place to spend our last few days in China.
Yes, that's it for the PRC! Goodbye to the smoking and the spitting, the delicious, not at all dumbed down for Westerners food, the terrific public transportation, and the constant shoving. You've been quite the experience and I appreciate all the things you've taught me, even if I'm not quite sure exactly what all of those things are yet. More reflection needed. Xie xie.