June 08, Travel to Southern Guangdong, China –
The Southern China Airliner descends for landing in Guangzhou’s International, and we see myriads of glittering lights below us. The time is early evening around 7 p.m.
In summer days, the air stands heavy, moist and polluted in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong.
A center of industrialization, the immense amount of manufacturing units adds its share to modern days worries of greenhouse emissions.
We sigh when we leave the Airport, nearly melting in the humid, stifling atmosphere that has engulfed the city.
Millions of people work here, like in the other big centers across China.
Show-case for the industrial revolution
Guangzhou is a showcase for the industrial revolution, its International Fair held twice a year draws Billions of foreign capital to the Chinese Economy.
Ten billions Dollars in 10 days are exchanged here in a matter of days, twice annually.
Official figures speak of 10 Billion Dollars in orders received during 10 days Spring fair, and the same happens 4 times a year.
Our contact Mr. Wu is expecting us at the Exit with a signboard exhibiting our names.
Welcome to Guangzhou
After a brief welcome, we grab the Minicab which takes us to the main bus terminal.
We will continue the journey tonight to southern Guangdong.
Buses in China are plentiful, we depart from the southern terminal near the railway station.
Along the south-western highway, the familiar sights of China, as in every province, the huge signboards lining the roads.
To lure customers to buy displayed merchandise, the modern capitalistic signs are visible everywhere.
HAIER, a major brand
I wonder how many times I must have seen the “HAIER” advert, written in huge letters on the billboard that we pass.
China, a gigantic country by all standards, a society diverse, and unique in its size.
I feel nothing will stop China
Nothing will stop China from achieving superiority status, there is no other nation in which people work as hard as here.
The bus speeds through the night, leaving the capital behind us, turning towards the southern parts, our destination unknown except for the name.
We are anxious to see where we end up tonight.
Along the road we see huge Banana plantations which cater for the whole of the Chinese market, Guangdong’s climate is ideally suited for the growing of fruits.
Mr. Wu tries to elaborate on some scenic spots along the road.
Since months have we prepared to reach this part of China, and now the time has come to see the ‘fruit city’.
Lychees and Longans
Famous for its Longans and Lychees, the whole region is home to the best fruits.
Throughout the dynasties, Emperors in Beijing demanded the best fruits from here.
After four hours we finally reach, the Terminus looks typically provincial.
Lots of characters linger around here, which I dislike.
Home sweet home
One should be careful at night, always watch one’s bags. A Taxi in form of a ‘Wulungxie’ the Chinese version of a Minibus takes us to Mr. Wu’s residence, he insists he wants us to stay at his home.
Mr. Wu is a teacher in the local ‘Normal school’, a Middle school with 5000 Students.
Arrival at the residence
His residence is far outside, we cross rice fields, typical Chinese village-like structures, and I regret not having insisted on staying in the city center.
When the house is reached we recognize the residential structure of an apartment building, the ones covering China from North to South, East to West.
Simple with basic utilities, enabling billions to live in an affordable home.
Dark staircase with heavy bags
Through the dark staircase, we reach the third floor, carrying our bags and start to sweat from the physical effort.
Normally I don’t carry much baggage with me, this time however I blame myself for not being persistent enough.
A heavy load of baggage adds to your inconvenience when going to distant places.
When we enter we realize that we made a mistake to follow Mr. Wu’s advice and lodge with him.
The place is spartan, to say the least. Our bedroom features two beds, a wood board as the source of a mattress, and a plastic straw thin mat.
There is lots of personal junk from the owner lying around. We decide to make it through this night, ( we do not have much of a choice in the middle of the night ).
Mr. Wu is in high spirits, however, and he wishes us goodnight before retiring himself.
Sleep is impossible
No one can find sleep, we are too tense, although very exhausted from the trip. When we doze off it is close to five o’clock in the morning.
We awake to sounds of birds , the windows open and we can see rice paddies in front of the building.
Amid a lovely scene surrounding the fields and paddies, we feel better than the night before when we arrived.
Looking for a bathroom we find a basic, bare concrete-floored shower and toilet room, enough to make you run back to where you came from.
We look into the kitchen and see a heap of unwashed dishes, signs of a Bachelor’s life, and a rice cooker.
Beside it a note, inviting us to have our breakfast consisting of rice congee.
Two bowls and 2 pairs of chopsticks lay beside the rice cooker, the congee is hot, the cooker was left on ‘warm’.
Congee, rice soup for billions
We are hungry and taste some congee, the common breakfast in China, ‘Xi Fan’ as it is called.
The note also says he had to attend his class and will be back around 10 AM.
We have made up our minds, we will leave at the earliest opportunity, trying not to offend the host.
Life here is different
Hard to understand without knowing the mentality of Chinese People, they offer you their home but you do not want to accept it.
When Mr. Wu finally arrives we are ready to leave, he looks surprised.
He still believes that his house is more convenient than a hotel, however, he agrees when we say we want to lodge in a Hotel rather, which also is better for his convenience.
Again I carry the unnecessary weight of our luggage down the stairs.
Due to the remote location, it takes almost 30 minutes until the ‘Taxi’ arrives.
Motorbike with a sidecar
A Motorcycle with sidecar and the luggage is all stowed away. Rattling through the suburbs, we now fully realize how far the place is from the center of town.
A hotel is quickly found and we now settle into somewhat more familiar surroundings.
Mr. Wu has accompanied us and helps us to settle in, he gives instructions to the chambermaid, the ‘Foo Yuan’ in the local Cantonese dialect.
We need rest, for the last day and night we spent without much sleep and ask to be excused for a few hours.
Mr. Wu leaves and promises to return in the afternoon.
At last we can sleep and I wonder, like so many times before, what will wait for us here.
Next: Friends for life