Saturday, June 15, 2019

Arriving in Guangzhou - Shamian Island, Baiyun Mountain, Up Down 9 Street and More

This trip was back in late 2017.  A short trip to Guangzhou, China.  We flew on SQ and stayed at the China Hotel (A Marriott Hotel).  It was a free and easy trip, with the objective to rest and relax.  Though we didn't see very much, it was still fun.

All Fours Movement
The first video here is something odd I witnessed at a park. Check out this new 'All Fours Movement' (coined by me). Elderly crawling up hill on all fours? This was at Yue Xiu Park, Guangzhou. Quite bizarre, but they seem to know what they were doing.

We flew to Guangzhou on Singapore Airlines. We arrived in Guangzhou in good time. When we were researching on where to stay, we decided that since this was a short getaway, and prices in China were still relatively inexpensive (compared to hotel prices in Singapore), we decided on a nice hotel chain, and landed on the Marriott - A China Hotel.

 This was a 5-star Marriott hotel, but it was one of the earliest (if not the earliest) 5-star hotel in Guangzhou. Hence the property was a bit old. Booking online, the rates for a Club Room was reasonable (about $210 SGD), so we decided to go with that. Further research revealed that we could take the Guangzhou Metro from the airport, all the way to the hotel. It looked very simple, and it turned out to be very easy indeed.

 Of course, if you have large luggage to lug around, then it would be harder. But since this was a short trip, our luggage was light and easy to push around. So after landing, we got a China SIM card near the baggage carousel, and then made our way to our hotel via the Metro. The video below shows you this experience, from collecting our luggage, to buying the SIM card, walking to the Metro station, buying a 3-day METRO ticket, and riding the Metro proper. It really was very easy indeed.

When we arrived at the Yue Xiu Park metro station, (where the Hotel was located), we decided to go grab a bite at the nearby McDonalds first. We were hungry. Here is the video of the snack we had at McDonalds. We shared a Spicy Chicken Fillet Burger.

Guangzhou Metro Map
Here is the Guangzhou Metro map. You can easily find this online. The airport station is on Line 3, at the North of the map, called Airport South. (or was it Airport North, either way one of the airport stations isn't opened yet). Taking Line 3 southwards, we changed trains at JianHeWangGang to get onto the Blue Line, towards Yue Xiu Park, for our hotel.

On our first day, after arriving and getting to the hotel, we set out using the MRT to get to Shamian Island.  To get there, we took the Metro to HuangSha station, which is on the western side of the map.  At the Huang Sha station, exit via Exit F, walk via an overpass to get to the island.  Here are two video clips on our experience.

Part 1 - Guangzhou China, Metro, Walk to Shamian Island

Part 2- Walking around Shamian Island, in Guangzhou.

Notice from the videos that the visitors were all locals.  Plenty of local folks out for a walk today.  We also spotted people taking wedding photographs on the island. 

Shamian Island, previous known as Zhongliusha or Shicuizhou, is an elliptic sandbar in the Liwan District of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province. The island's name literally means "sandy surface" in Chinese. Surrounded by water, it is just like a giant ship mooring alongside the wharf. Get further and one will find that the island is carefully planned. Three east-west avenues, Shamian Avenue, Shamian North Avenue and the South Avenue, and five north-south streets, Shamian Street 1 to the Street 5 divide the whole area into 12 parts, with various buildings, namely White Swan Hotel, Shamian Hotel, and Poland Consulate in Guangzhou, scattered around.

After roaming the island a bit, we headed off (using Bai Du maps) to walk around.  I think we made it all the way to the up-down 9 street - ShangXiaJiu street or 上下九步行街.   

Next Morning - Bai Yun Mountain
Next morning, where we had a full day, we decided that we should do the Bai Yun mountain as early as we could.  Bai Yun (White Cloud) mountain is actually just a hill.  Highest point is 382M.  After doing our research, we decided to try taking the public bus #24 from Yue Xiu Garden (which is near where we stayed) to the foot of the mountain.  It took a while for us to find the correct bus stop, but we found it. While waiting for the bus to arrive, I spotted this vehicle going past. Was it cleaning the road?  I wasn't sure.  The video was taken at the bus stop where we were waiting for #24.  In the distance, you can see the Marriott Hotel.

Taking the public bus
First bus was too full.  We managed to get on the second bus #24 that came along. Fare was 2RM per person and the driver doesn't give change.  Since I didn't have small notes, I used 10RM for the both of us. It was a fairly tight squeeze along the way, but the bus was air-conditioned and it was a fairly comfortable ride, even though we were standing.  When we reached the terminus station, we got off, followed the crowds to cross a road, and walked up to the ticketing area.  This video shows you snippets of the journey.  The ride from Yue Xiu Garden to the bus terminus was about 20 minutes.

Once we reached the cable car station, we got to the ticket line for cable car tickets.  Pleasantly surprised that the line wasn't too long.  After all, this was the Golden Week in China. We had done our travel research and decided that we should take the cable car up, and then look for the electric cart to take us up to the summit.  Buying the tickets was very straightforward.  I asked about the return ticket, and the counter staff said that return ticket could only be purchased up the mountain.  Ok, then.  We go up first.  The next video shows the cable car ride upwards. As there was already a small crowd, they squeezed 8 pax to a car.  The ride was fairly long.

Electric Cart
After we alighted from the cable car, we walked around a bit (this wasn't the summit yet) and found our way to the electric cart station.  You could walk to the summit from here, but it would be an uphill 2km walk.  I highly recommend taking the electric cart, at 10rmb per person.  You will see from the video that there were many people walking up, so the walk is do-able but I think quite tiring.

Even after we reach the Moxing Summit station (where we get off the electric cart), it was still a good 5 minutes uphill climb to the summit proper.  Therefore, unless you feel like walking many steps uphill, I would strongly recommend taking the cable car followed by the electric cart.

Finally, we were on the brink of reaching the summit.  

 To recap, first we took the public bus #24 (2rmb) from Yue Xiu garden to the mountain bus interchange.   Next, we bought the cable car tickets (25rmb) which brought us up to a large, busy area.  Then we found the electric cart station, and took the electric cart (10rmb) to the Moxing Summit.  The final leg, we have to walk.  But first, another 4rmb entrance fees.  And we are finally here!  (Prices correct as at Oct 2017)

This is probably the fastest way to get up.  I realised that while many locals took the cable car up, they didn't take the electric cart.  You could do that too, but check out my earlier video to get a sense of how far you would need to walk (uphill).  I think the 10rmb was well worth the money. 

Walking back to Cable Car Station
We spent around 30 minutes at the Mo Xing summit.  It was rather warm.  Soon, it was time to make our way back down.  Recall we took the electric cart here.  This time round, we decided to take a walk back to the cable car station.  Walking downslope wasn't difficult.  On the way, we saw many people walking up, including young and old. 

We had to buy tickets to do down via cable car, which we did.  The whole place was getting more crowded as we approached mid-day, with more and more local tourists coming up.  But we were done with the visit and on the way down.  The next video shows you the cable car ride down.  Check out the crowds at the base station! 

Taking Public Bus Back to Hotel
We decided to take the same public bus #24 to head back to where we started.   Here is the walk from the cable car station back to the bus station, and some snippets of the bus ride.  

The rest of the time in Guangzhou, we were exploring, either on foot or via the metro.  Here are some more video footage.  Somehow, we found ourselves walking through some backstreet alleys of Guangzhou.  We had veered off the main road.  However, we were not lost, simply following Baidu maps.

QingPing Market
Also walked through a bit of Qingping market. Famous place for all types of medicines and dried goods.

QR Code Bus Station
Walked past a bus station. First time I saw such large QR codes printed on the wall.  Later, I realised that their people were buying bus tickets to various destinations using their mobile phone.

Li Wang Plaza Guangzhou
We found our way to Li Wan Plaza Guangzhou, which was a wholesale center.  This place was huge!  All the shops were opened, but we hardly saw any customers.  Later on I figured that they were all wholesalers and traders, taking much of their orders over the phone, or internet. 

Dian Du De
And we had some food at this place called Dian Du De.  This place was super crowded!  We had read about it online and came to check it out. Full of locals.  We ordered, and had way too much to eat!  The portions were extremely huge (we didn't know).  

Thanks very much for following my blog!


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