How the Cookie Crumbles

Life in the fast and slow lanes after SIXTY-FIVE

Guangzhou, Day 1, Part 2

43 Comments


We’d had enough of Goat Park and were antsy to leave, Helen our guide asked me to take a picture of her on my iPad. I had no idea why. At the corner of the park where we were supposed to meet, a man fresh-squeezed and sold bottled orange juice. Next to him a girl toasted acorns in a wok for about two minutes. Helen said they were acorns but I wonder if they weren’t chestnuts. This spot she chose for her photograph.

Then she asked me to email her the photo. I wasn’t setup for e-mail I explained. “Never mind,” she said her face pinched and chin dropped. Why hadn’t she given me her cell to take the picture, and why take one at all?

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Known for silk, jade, porcelain, ceramics
  • Arts and crafts museum (in Chen_Clan_Ancestral_Hall)
  • Tea
  • Paper cuts
  • Old furniture
  • Mostly Buddhist, with some Taoism and Catholic beliefs
  • Opened city to the world with Canton Tree Fair (also the-canton-fair)
  • Chen Family Dynasty gave donation to Chen-Clan-Academy
  • Chen Family gave money (1920s) for Chen Family Temple
  • Rice: 2 crops / year
  • Wheat: 1 winter crop (winter wheat)
  • Sun Yatsen first president of China after 1911 Revolution
  • Died 1925 of liver cancer
  • Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall completed temple built in his name in 1931

The next attraction on our agenda was the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. Helen and the bus driver talked and talked and talked. Somehow it sounded like a family argument. Mr. Li, some 20+ years younger chewed his lip more than once and kept his peace.

Carolyn and Jim moved from the front seat to the back of our full-sized bus because Helen and the driver were so loud. Lorena asked me if I thought it okay to tell them to keep it down. I had no idea, but I said I’d be hesitant as this was their country and we were the foreigners.

At the temple, we toured mostly the outside. This is a tourist trap. The same magnets, jade, embroidery, paintings, doohickeys and doo-dads were plentiful and on display. One of our ladies bought something expensive and it appeared the tour guide was given a gift. Maybe yes or maybe no.

IMG_0675

 

A young woman, twenty-five or more (maybe less) insinuated herself into our group. She kept bumping into a number of us and me several times. The others in our group succeeded at ignoring her, but she made me uncomfortable because I don’t like anyone so close in my space. After she followed us into a couple of store, I whispered in Lorena’s ear if she thought the girl a pick-pocket and like magic, the girl vanished.

Lunch (13 courses Cantonese dim sum)

  • Beef with tomatoes (not enough beef to go around the table)
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Celery / carrots / peanuts and pork
  • Fried rice with fried egg and green onions
  • Spring rolls (tasty but greasy)
  • Fried pork dumplings (looked raw / without taste)
  • Corn coup
  • Egg and chili pancake thing
  • Mushrooms in sauce and a green vegetable I couldn’t identify
  • Sprouts with green peppers, onions and slivered carrots
  • Potatoes in kind of dough and dipped in sesame
  • Pineapple half-slices (white in color…hmm)
  • Fried cakes with caramel (cardboard texture)

The room we ate in had room for only four round tables. Ours had eight chairs and I assume each of the other tables did as well. We shared the room with the French group and always knew when they had arrived. Their guide always called out, ‘Un. Deux. Trois.’ He pointed to the tables as if they were children. Soon, the noise became deafening in the box of a room and I couldn’t wait for the end of lunch.

On the bus again, the discussion at the front went on and on. Helen reached over the aisle for her purse at the something beeping, took a quick glance at us, her passengers, and continued her conversation with the driver.

Next time on April 17th: Guangzhou, Day 1, Part 3 and to Zhongshan

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

43 thoughts on “Guangzhou, Day 1, Part 2

  1. I guess Helen wanted to make sure you had a picture of her so you’d never forget her. 😉

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  2. I had an especially good private guide in Costa Rica for two days and when I asked to take her pic she was shy, but agreeable. I did want to remember her.

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  3. Maybe Helen wanted proof you were friends. I was told things like that could be helpful in either showing your boss how loved you are by customers or slowly paving a way out of China.

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  4. Helen didn’t want you to forget her. 😉 Lovely flower gardens.

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  5. My first thought about the girl: pickpocket. The picture thing is a status among Asians, esp. Chinese. If you had emailed the pic, she would have told her boss = look, this lady like me so much she take pic of me and email to me! Not the same taken on her phone; anyone could have taken it. The other way, she proves her popularity with tourists. While diffident in many ways, I have learned through the years, especially those in business, like drivers, tour guides (non-professionals) have not learned or care about space, manners, arguing in public, etc. the professional Chinese I came into contact with, mostly polite but can be pushy. I learned how to push back and how much before backing off. I also learned when they called me a long nosed devil. LOL…it surprises them when they discover you can understand enough to know you’ve been insulted and when you “talk back” to them. I made a major stink last year when I went to a huge Asian store run by Chinese. the people at the register and floor walkers were very rude, plus, the store smelled bad. I had had enough of it up at the register and when one said, look at silly white devil trying to act like she knows what she bought. I put my things down and replied to her in Mandarin that she was rude, the floor walkers were rude, the store stank and I was gong over to Sahath By, Cambodian store a few blocks over, where I was treated very nicely in a clean, well organized store. The husband flirted with me and kept trying to hook me up with the young salesman bringing in things for the Japanese section. his wife and I had a good laugh and she poked him with a pig’s foot and oinked at him. he went back to the back. We laughed again. I love this store and speak enough to get by, although their English is flawless. they kindly correct me.

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  6. You are SOOooo full of surprises. Love it. I understand a lot about life is around cultural differences. How much easier would dealing with each other be if we didn’t hide behind them but were ABLE to share more eaily. Of course. Cultural changes and understanding don’t happen over-night. ❤ ❤

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  7. Know for paper cuts? What a strange thing to be known for.

    Everyone has given you the reason for the picture and their take on the strange girl, I agree with all of them.

    I continue to say this to you, i am so glad you took this trip. I think you must be too as you continue to share your adventure! I think you should do more of these.

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  8. So many grey buildings everywhere! Some of the eating experiences do sound strange. I love Chinese, and asian food in general, but never the desserts, it’s not their thing! (In my experience anyway).

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  9. Gosh 13 course of dishes just for lunch it sounds loads, but I expect the dishes were small.

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  10. Interesting what Kanzen said. The park looks lovely and I liked your description – egg and chilli pancake thing 😊

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  11. I told you I haven’t bee in Guangzhou, did you like the city in spite of the stalls of sellers that you find everywhere????? I kope so, China, at least for me, is an amaizing country.

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  12. Yes, intriguing, although the above explanations make some sense (particularly the status and feedback thing. Also I wondered if it was a way to get your e-mail too, but what for…). The other girl I did suspect she was a pickpocket. Kanzensakura’s comment is fascinating. I wonder if learning about other people’s customs and traditions shouldn’t be part of general knowledge too (not only learning about facts and figures). Communicating is surely very important. Great post, Tess.

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  13. Everyone has to make a living but sometimes the spoil places by allowing so much tourist tat!

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  14. I am hope that the young lady in the park was not cooking Acorns because as far as I know they are poisonous. !! I agree with everyone l believe the young woman was a pick pocket. Also I agree about the photo fiasco . m
    My brother in law is Chinese and when his mother and sisters are visiting it always sounds like a heated argument!!
    Another great post thanks I am really enjoying the ride. xxxx

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  15. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I have to say that having followed this tour in China with Tess Karlinski I am torn as to whether I would really like to visit the country or not.. some wonderful cultural and historical places to see but I still feel that there is a tight fist around what you can and cannot do.. some of the food sounds delicious but pop over and read from the start of the tour and decide for yourself. A fascinating insight into this largely unknown country that will probably play a huge part in our future.. Fascinating as always Tess. thank you

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  16. As always, interesting review of your day in China. The outside of the temple wall with its intricate carving was beautiful. I’m like you – I don’t like people getting in my space – especially people I don’t know. I suspect she was up to no good since she quickly disappeared.

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  17. I felt for you on this trip. It’s not a good feeling to be in a foreign country and feel like the people you are with might scam you. You made the whole day so interesting. I loved reading what you had to eat. Great stories of your travels. By the way, thanks for so much love on my site. I appreciate it very much. 🙂

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  18. Tess it sounds to me like you are a or became a very savvy traveler. The girl definitely was showing suspicious signs with her bumping. Good for you to call her out with your guide. You likely saved a member of your group from a crime.

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  19. I had the same thought about the “pick pocket” — I hope your wallet was intact.
    Another fascinating travelogue, Tess. Hugs.

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  20. There’s a mystery there. Something sinister, I’m afraid. And then the family argument right after? Not a coincidence. Fascinating post, as always.

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  21. I immediately jumped to the devious reason. She wanted a picture of herself from your iPad so she had your email and IP address. I’m probably being paranoid.

    More fun on your trip. I bet you miss your own food by this point!

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  22. Suddenly I feel very uncomfortable on our Tess, stay close, keep your hands free. No matter where we go in life we must be aware. And careful for each other. 😉 Curiouser and curiouser. But I would still me mesmorized by what I’m seeing.

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  23. I’m with you, Tess. I don’t want anyone in what I consider my space. I discovered over the years that what I discovered my space changed as I moved from place to place. I couldn’t claim more space for myself in most large cities because of the intense population. Perhaps that’s what drew me to wide open space once I retired – give me room – don’t touch!

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  24. Whoa, these two (Carolyn and jim) sound annoying. My wife lost everything to a pickpocket in Italy. A band of kids surrounded her and one cut her purse strap. Passport, cash, travelers checks the works and I was in the US. Nightmare.

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  25. I’m in stitches! XD

    I can’t decide which is funnier, Helen and her iPad photo, or the French tour guide and his children, calling ‘Un. Deux. Trois.’
    I enjoyed the way you told your adventure.

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  26. there is so much happening in this post 😉

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  27. This was indeed a nerve-wracking day. The trip is beginning to slow down a bit and we are a little bit bored.

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  28. ‘We’d had enough of Goat Park…’ That made me LOL 😀 Good job you were on your toes with that young woman…definitley sounds suspicious. I can’t stand it when someone gets in my personal space like that, it really stirs me up. A man did that to me the other day at the Post Office. He stood so close to me (behind) that I could almost feel his breath down my neck. I was literally about to turn around and tell him to back off, when I was called to the counter, thank God. Otherwise, there might have been a scene 😉 That is strange about Helen and the photograph too. Felt as if I was right there with you, thanks again Tess for a very entertaining post 🙂 ❤ 🙂

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  29. Oh the joys of traveling to see the good, the bad, and the pickpockets. Curious about Helen. Did she want you to remember her?

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    • We had her for such a short time, but it felt such a l.o.n.g. time because she never shut up! She just just weird in that we couldn’t figure her out. I hadn’t exchanged two words with her except for the picture-taking conversation. o_O

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  30. Tess, you may have missed your calling as a reporter. 🙂 You take in and share such intricate details. ❤

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  31. 😀 😀 I DID had a reporter roommie from Toronto once.
    Thank you, Debby. maybe in my next life I’ll be a reporter. ❤

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