Friday, March 25, 2011

Welcome to China: in just 24 hours - Guandong, China

The closed pedestrian bridge in Guangzhou
Chinese oddities. They can amuse even one that used to live in China, he just needs to come back after having being away for a few years.

- My luggage is x-rayed at the Hong Kong-China border check point. It's just the first step of a long sequence of scans: Chinese authorities really love those x-rays machines.
- People are shoving about and jumping the queue at the immigration desk...some Chinese can love this even better than x-rays.
- The immigration officer asks people to remove their hair from the foreheads and then nervously, suspiciously, repetitively and perplexedly scrutinizes their passport photos.
- A long queue and an application form to fill in order to exchange HKD 1000 into RMB, which I could have done in Hong Kong in one minute hadn't I underestimated the dark side of the Chinese bureaucracy.
- I am ripped off when I buy a local SIM card, not a big deal though, as the girl who served me was very nice indeed. Niceness can also have a price here.
- More luggage x-rays at the Shenzhen train station entrance. We already know that they love x-rays.
- On the train a committee is formed to assign the seat numbers. The fact that the numbers were already written on the tickets doesn't seem to be very important at this stage.
- Even though everyone has already been assigned their seats (at the ticket counter first and by the train passengers committee later on) people keep standing, moving about and yelling for the whole length of the trip.
- A maze of fences has been built at Guangzhou station square: you need to walk for about one kilometer to reach a hotel that is two hundred meters away.
- The staff at the hotel reception is very grumpy: even though I'm paying cash for my room I feel like I am being done a favor.
- The nearest metro entrance to the hotel is closed, and the ticket vending machines are out of service.
- The hotel was recently renovated (and the prices are four times as high as last time I was here) but here and there you can still spot a few messy leftovers from the old structure: the wood of the toilet door is rotten, there is an old stain on the wall near a piece of furniture, some aged scratches on the mopboard...
- Social networks and blogs are censored (that's why I'm publishing this post so late).
- The grumpy hotel employees manage to get even grumpier when I ask if they have a map of the city. Of course besides being treated like a beggar I don't manage to get one.
- Out of the metro and into the night, I'm suddenly overwhelmed by a terrible could be rubbish, maybe sewage or even excrements, but after few seconds I remember that smell: it's stinking tofu, surprisingly edible food!
- The hotel employees raise the magnitude of their grumpiness to level three when I ask the whereabouts of the nearest ATM machines...the answer is: "at the square!" Unfortunately Guangzhou railway station square is one of the most complex examples of urban architecture in the's as if they had answered: "Somewhere out there, not too far and not too near..."
- Those ATM machines can really help you with a lot of interesting functions and services, except giving money of course.
- A group of girls are waiting for the metro standing on the area reserved for the alighting passengers. They have a point though, as they manage to board the train before the passenger who were waiting on the designated boarding area.
- Near Guangzhou East railway station a pedestrian bridge is closed. Unfortunately you find that out only when you're already on top, after having climbed a few dozens steps.
- Some rich guy with a fancy foreign car accesses a pedestrian area and honks at people so that they get out of the way. The bigger the mightier: everybody knows China, that is.

No comments: