Wednesday, June 11, 2014

China 2014 part 9 - Guangzhou

heading south-southeast

So the kid's a little loud, but the bunks are big and soft enough to sleep on properly (see also Russia), and there's a seat on the toilet.  This leg won't be so bad after all, and it's already more than 1/3 over.  After that Irkutsk-Vladivostok run last year, anything less than 48 hours feels too short to be bothered about.

The windows are streaky and the air's wet, so I won't be taking too many pics.  Hopefully, this will clear off by the time I have to go it on foot; a morning under pack is bad enough, but a morning under pack in the rain is worse still.

The train's still stopped; it does this frequently, and for relatively long times.  This is probably why this run, much shorter in distance than Harbin-Xi'an, is going to take about the same time.

 photo zh0880_zps3e705ae9.jpg

0880. The watermelon of the adventure.

- The Adventure of the Watermelon -

So around 10 the fruit cart guy came around, and whether for a lack of customers, to flirt with the young mom who had her kid in this carriage, or just to bait the foreigner out of boredom, he made a real hard pitch.  I of course couldn't follow perfectly, but for sport I committed to a 15元 watermelon, which I could see he didn't have, even cut.  Of course, he came back with the melon about 10:30, and I had to scrounge, being short of small bills, but in the end it's cut up on the table.  Since it's a little large for one person, I offered the kids to eat what they liked (on Chinese long-distance trains, you generally bring extra snacks in order to share with everyone else around you), but they ran away.  I still hope it may be shared out; if not, I'll be less starved today and maybe save some 小吃 for tomorrow's breakfast.

Addendum: the kid later pissed in the trashcan, and nearly on my kit, but this is China, after all.  And soon enough, he did enjoy the watermelon.

My pack had trouble getting back under, but with the train supplies tossed, I should be able to move some gear around.  I'll finish off the last of the train food tomorrow as well; of a kilo of sausage laid in in Harbin a week ago, but one link is left, and that'll be gone tonight.

v59. Quick look into a rural town.

v60. Another of fields and houses.

The windows are impossible, but the country is too beautiful and striking to ignore.  The main problem, though, is that we're continuously in and out of tunnels, so I can't keep the camera on generally.  The vistas I can preserve are nothing, literally nothing, on those that obstructed fields, technical limitations, and/or social decorum prevent me from preserving.

0881. (not germane)

 photo zh0882_zpsf7957d37.jpg

0882. River view; trying to get a boatman, but the train was too fast.

 photo zh0883_zps7c376236.jpg

0883. Riverbank scene.

The rain has dried up, but the train's kicking along at a right fast clip; stuff is there-and-gone at Japanese speeds rather than Siberian.

 photo zh0884_zpsab8cb6f0.jpg

0884. Temple gate and trees.

 photo zh0885_zps9bed8328.jpg

0885. Misty mountain far.

 photo zh0886_zpsd83b5011.jpg

0886. A long river view.

 photo zh0887_zpsa311ec9f.jpg

0887. Country road through the forest.

 photo zh0888_zps8c6ca234.jpg

0888. Fields and mountains.

 photo zh0889_zpsdb3a4a77.jpg

0889. Flooded fields and a hill of graves.

 photo zh0890_zpsb2f06ca1.jpg

0890. Sharp-horned mountains at a station stop.

0891. (DNCO).

 photo zh0892_zpse715e78d.jpg

0892. Hill and station house; the high rises ubiquitous to eastern and southern China are nowhere to be found in these mountains.  This is rural among rural, truly, and passing through it at the tail end of a late spring rain gives a singularly peaceful stillness the the countryside.  As a tourist I should have done Guangdong all at once, and be headed from here to Guilin and thence to Tibet, but I don't have all the time or money in the world.  As a traveler, though, it's very good that I've come this way, and seen a side of China that you will never find where the land's flat.

 photo zh0893_zps87d2bab2.jpg

0893. Raw mountain, pulling out.

 photo zh0894_zps45e0ddd3.jpg

0894. More of the high dome.

 photo zh0895_zps16d42e87.jpg

0895. Mountains and town.

 photo zh0896_zps12d7a64f.jpg

0896. Flooded paddies, distant peaks.

 photo zh0897_zpsba9ab12c.jpg

0897. Mountains and river flow.

 photo zh0898_zps749046e9.jpg

0898. Serrated peaks in the distance.

The kid had been napping, but woke up owing to having wet the bed.  I feel bad for his poor mom sleeping beside him at the time; I've spent too long at German metalfests to be overly troubled by the stink of urine.  Other travelers' mileage may vary; I suggest, in the first instance, not feeding them fruit with an abnormally high water content, even if it was originally procured for a joke and is too large for one person.  :[

 photo zh0899_zps502ec86f.jpg

0899. Great karst domes, leaving Rongshui.

 photo zh0900_zps8cddd541.jpg

0900. Three in sequence.

 photo zh0901_zps768e9a7a.jpg

0901. A bluff rises from the plain.

 photo zh0902_zps6edd4f89.jpg

0902. Closer to the mass.

 photo zh0903_zpsb8e13dbe.jpg

0903. A solitary knob of rock.

 photo zh0904_zpscb45506b.jpg

0904. Standing alone.

0905. (DNCO) Outcroppings and a windbreak.  The strategy here was to shoot a lot, only keeping those that were the most in-focus and most in-frame. (This one wasn't, really)

 photo zh0906_zpsd4f220e3.jpg 0906. Range around a valley.

 photo zh0907_zps60bacc28.jpg

0907. Another battlement.

 photo zh0908_zpsd9392030.jpg

0908. Closer, passing.

 photo zh0909_zps4a878638.jpg

0909. A long mountain over the road.

This is a poor substitute for Guilin, but not having the time to actually visit the karst country, the least I could do was pass through some of the outskirts.

 photo zh0910_zps59273a68.jpg

0910. Mountains and well-watered country.

 photo zh0911_zps08d9b477.jpg

0911. With a different stream.

 photo zh0912_zps62a8dd59.jpg

0912. A triangular prominence.

 photo zh0913_zps89e15002.jpg

0913. Away to the range.

 photo zh0914_zps678f0b0f.jpg

0914. A great peak right by the track.

 photo zh0915_zps3da96131.jpg

0915. Closer on.

 photo zh0916_zps29276bc8.jpg

0916. Up from below.

 photo zh0917_zpsf503c02c.jpg

0917. High, bare, slope.

 photo zh0918_zps52dd3f0d.jpg

0918. Mountains and dam.

 photo zh0919_zps92f43500.jpg

0919. A few peaks more.

 photo zh0920_zpsf94f65b6.jpg

0920. A great bare castle.

 photo zh0921_zps8303e3da.jpg

0921. Looming out of the jungle.

 photo zh0922_zpsae894370.jpg

0922. Bare cap and rockslide fencing.

 photo zh0923_zps17bb9a33.jpg

0923. Steep slopes cultivated still.

 photo zh0924_zpsf85363b8.jpg

0924. Rural China.

 photo zh0925_zpsf365579d.jpg

0925. River view, right before the trestles hit.

 photo zh0926_zpsf453e3e5.jpg

0926. A block of mountains.

 photo zh0927_zpse1a36276.jpg

0927. A second mostly-clear view.

China's attitude towards track access is pretty laissez-faire generally.  So when the train enters an artificial tunnel box and emerges alongside a fence topped with razor wire, you don't turn the camera on, no matter how amazing the surrounding mountains are.

 photo zh0928_zps1260bb04.jpg

0928. Berg in the deepening mist.

 photo zh0929_zps9aedb149.jpg

0929. Doubly faced.

 photo zh0930_zps57b43b4f.jpg

0930. Bare rock.

 photo zh0931_zps27727167.jpg

0931. A last peak over a viaduct.

The compartment's full again; young dudes, some of whom are booked elsewhere.  On the whole, I'd rather put up with the kid.

Six hours till packout.  We'll see how well I sleep.

almost to Guangzhou

Pocket stuff apart, I'm fully packed, with my train-specific gear discarded and tied off.  Today's plan starts with breaking a bill at the Hbf -- I probably have enough change to get south, but it's not certain -- getting my next ticket at Guangzhou South, and then doing a bit of Siu Bek and maybe seeing the mosque before checking in, at which point I divide and parse out my gear.  I'm not sending it out till early on the 22nd, but I want to know where I'm sending it from -- and that what I keep will stay under seven kilos.

- Guangzhou -

 photo zh0932_zps1fc1ce73.jpg

0932. GZ Hbf in the dark.  In the plaza in front of the station, there were a couple dozen people sacked out -- not homeless, just waiting for an early train.

 photo zh0933_zps96267f43.jpg

0933. Looping overpasses from a footbridge in Xiao Bei.

 photo zh0934_zps2982d809.jpg

0934. Greenery bubbles off the path.

 photo zh0935_zps66f19141.jpg

0935. Growth and skyscrapers.

 photo zh0936_zps13fe564f.jpg

0936. Apartments and more plants.

Siu Bek was cool, but it was too early to see a whole ton; the only difference to elsewhere in Guangzhou is the large signs, in English and Arabic (and probably also, lower down, French and Chinese), reminding people that foreigners need to present a passport when challenged by police.  Other than that, just as well-off, well-maintained, and green as anywhere else.

The greenery is probably half planted, half accident.  The jungle is all around you here, and will fill in at a moment's notice.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

 photo zh0937_zps6d9d315d.jpg

0937. Hall from the west gate.

 photo zh0938_zps64bad21c.jpg

0938. Closer on a corner.

 photo zh0939_zpsea80b780.jpg

0939. Roof corner and new build.

 photo zh0940_zps0360d339.jpg

0940. On the south side.

 photo zh0941_zps0f2c5763.jpg

0941. "Tree Embracing Tree", a banyan grown around a fan palm.  This is also occasionally translated on signs around the park as "Tree On Tree", which is hilarious.

 photo zh0942_zpse28f4745.jpg

0942. South face view.

 photo zh0943_zpsd2d23c86.jpg

0943. Long shot of the east gate.

 photo zh0944_zpsa81d0088.jpg

0944. The net of a great banyan.

 photo zh0945_zps670f9848.jpg

0945. North side and statue.

 photo zh0946_zps10300cb2.jpg

0946. Statue, side-on.

 photo zh0947_zpsf9c6233a.jpg

0947. Inside; a nice latticed window.

 photo zh0948_zps77f45bf0.jpg

0948. The furnishings recall temple architecture.

 photo zh0949_zps8cb22ce9.jpg

0949. Also insured by Smith & Wesson.

 photo zh0950_zps123cfaa9.jpg

0950. Anticolonialist poster; note the frog in French colors.

 photo zh0951_zpsac476681.jpg

0951. Original diagnosis; Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was a doctor of medicine, not philosophy, and continued to practice even while gaining fame as a thinker, speaker, and leader of the revolutionary movement.

 photo zh0952_zps1a79203e.jpg

0952. Memorial tablet in the main auditorium.

 photo zh0953_zps6a185a2f.jpg

0953. New build, new life, through a sunshower.

The hall didn't have much in the way of artifacts, and a substantial chunk of the exhibit was devoted to the hall itself.  However, it was still quite interesting, and a good diversion running out the clock before I can credibly go to the hotel.  Beer and an early start has me running on empty, but I should be able to string it out to get in like 10:30 or 11, not much earlier than Xi'an.  We'll see how long I've got to stew.

 photo zh0954_zpsf1917637.jpg

0954. Statue in a separate memorial hall.

 photo zh0955_zps1502f5f6.jpg

0955. A dodge.

 photo zh0956_zps5a6685d8.jpg

0956. A commanding if streaky view of Guangzhou.

In addition to nice views, the hotel also has a range top rather than just an electric kettle for making tea.  There's no cooking utensils, but that's easily remedied -- and if I find a wet market, I can't be entirely responsible for my actions.

Further investigation revealed the stove had been deactivated, which is probably for the best.

Attempting to go to the Hanyue burial mound museum, I got lost coming out of the subway (despite still having a compass on me, which should have eliminated that possibility) and got caught in a rainstorm, but it wasn't a complete failure: Italy and England Hapi caps, and I did see most of Zhongshan 6th Road.

0957. (DNCO).

 photo zh0958_zps44ce90f2.jpg

0958. Storm over a pedestrian bridge.

v61. (DNCO).

 photo zh0959_zpsac8ad5a5.jpg

0959. Angry clouds sweep across.

 photo zh0960_zpsf1ac936b.jpg

0960. Old-school building in Zhongshan Sixth Road.

My clothes are currently busy drying out, and I may try to explore local cuisine on a late dinner.  Regardless, I'm going to make close plans for tomorrow, so I can see all I need to, in the time I have, and not screw things up like today.

 photo zh0961_zps78cb0a79.jpg

0961. Chinese buffet, Chinese style.

After a bit of a walk, I came to this place, a cafeteria setup that covers all the bases.  You get a tray with a bowlful of rice on it, then go down the line and point at the dishes you want added.  Each averages like six yuan, with the meat ones and the veggie ones lower.  You get charged at the end based on what's on your plate; I paid about 40元 for this intentionally indulgent dinner, but if you're poor, you can come in, refuse all dishes, and pay a single yuan for a hot bowl of rice.

My good luck continued on the way back; I got a German Hapi and a hot lead on a likely source of more caps.  It cost me a 13.50 can of import (expensive, I've been drinking bigger 3-yuan bottles of domestic further inland :[ ), but I saw a Hapi rack nearly cleaned out, with Argentina and Spain remaining.  That's the first case assortment; there's at least one more tranche on the streets here, and that rack's going to fill up overnight -- probably with caps from the later tranches.  The demand here for Hapi -- or colorful Hapi caps -- keeps the racks churning, and as long as the churn goes, I've got a chance at the (only) seven caps now remaining at large.

 photo zh0962_zps33bd26f5.jpg

0962. Down into the night.


I'm partly packed/manifested, and mostly ready to go; I figure tower, then post pack, then do the longer foot stuff and prep for an early start tomorrow.

I got to the tower in good time, but like an hour and a half before it opened.  Some notes from outside.

 photo zh0963_zpsefffc366.jpg

0963. A rainy morning in Guangzhou.

 photo zh0964_zps94cc7b70.jpg

0964. At the tower; completely swallowed in mist.

 photo zh0965_zps1d77ab89.jpg

0965. Ostentatious apartments nearby.

 photo zh0966_zps9029ef68.jpg

0966. More of the steel weave of the base.

 photo zh0967_zpsd7f80612.jpg

0967. North across the wharf.

 photo zh0968_zps61c9da63.jpg

0968. Along the mist-shrouded riverbank.

 photo zh0969_zps6f25a298.jpg

0969. Looking east.

0970. (DNCO) Bridge lost in the fog.  Visibility's about 300-500 meters, less, obviously, looking straight up.

 photo zh0971_zps129837e0.jpg

0971. Clearing a little.

 photo zh0972_zpsd7cc4552.jpg

0972. Lulz.  This has to be posted, because people come here from all over the world, often not realizing that much of the year, the Pearl delta is functionally equivalent to a sauna bath, and the tower is frequently socked in by clouds.

It does appear to be clearing a little, so I'll probably go straight up the tower as planned.  Fog or no fog, I'm not here forever.

v62. Sudden raindrops bounce on a patio.  It's been dripping all morning, but the real rain started with this burst; in the old days, people used to believe that these sudden, short downpours were the result of a dragon going by.

A film crew set up a generator for their catering area by my seat, so I took another hike around the tower and a few more pictures.

 photo zh0973_zpsb054b4ad.jpg

0973. Skyscrapers emerge from the fog.

0974. (DNCO).

 photo zh0975_zps8cbd4619.jpg

0975. A long wash of green.

 photo zh0976_zps65ab4da1.jpg

0976. Helix and tower.

After more waiting, I got in, and while the views from the elevator were amazing, 450 meters is more visibility than there is this morning.  As soon as the engineering hall opens, I'll check that out, and hope that things continue to clear.

 photo zh0977_zps54529f94.jpg

0977. Above the clouds.

 photo zh0978_zps1f4cdcb3.jpg

0978. Black marble in the Star observation deck.

 photo zh0979_zps579841e9.jpg

0979. Well, they're not lying.

The wait paid off handsomely, as of course the clouds cleared and I was about the only person up in the tower.

0980. (DNCO).

v63. (DNCO).

0981. (DNCO).

 photo zh0982_zps1919320c.jpg

0982. The waterfront emerges.

 photo zh0983_zps3667f727.jpg

0983. Down to the shrouded river.

v64. Wisping off northwest.

 photo zh0984_zpsc9741bfc.jpg

0984. Into the city.

 photo zh0985_zps02e36ae8.jpg

0985. Greenway and brownfields.

 photo zh0986_zps5e6bc8e0.jpg

0986. A slice of waterfront.

 photo zh0987_zpscf359ad7.jpg

0987. Wisps of hanging fog.

 photo zh0988_zpsad96b02a.jpg

0988. Down to the Chigang Pagoda.

0989. (DNCO).

 photo zh0990_zpsba163c0f.jpg

0990. More of the Pearl bridge.

 photo zh0991_zpseba29b37.jpg

0991. Challengers appear.

 photo zh0992_zps4c000592.jpg

0992. Down into the weird stadium.

 photo zh0993_zps925b852a.jpg

0993. Into the north cultural park.

 photo zh0994_zps3cb66b3b.jpg

0994. Still socked in upriver.

 photo zh0995_zpse4ccd039.jpg

0995. Pagoda and park.

 photo zh0996_zps9d347638.jpg

0996. Bridge and bank.

 photo zh0997_zps832bce10.jpg

0997. The dawn comes.

I recovered from the retinal burn I'd gotten looking east to the shrouded sun, and the engineering floor was free today, a 30-yuan value.  Score!

 photo zh0998_zps29ffe06a.jpg

0998. Across an island.

 photo zh0999_zps310f0322.jpg

0999. The IFC, clear of fog.

 photo zh1000_zpsd278cbfa.jpg

1000. Its companion, still underway.

 photo zh1001_zps7310e6af.jpg

1001. Library and museum.

 photo zh1002_zpsdcbab427.jpg

1002. Along the north bank.

 photo zh1003_zpsfe47794c.jpg

1003. Surrounded by streams.

 photo zh1004_zps8bc03e20.jpg

1004. 2-D bearing assembly, engineering floor.

 photo zh1005_zps2124c45e.jpg

1005. Damper piston.

 photo zh1006_zpse0fad1f4.jpg

1006. Tank and explanation.  Since they need to keep a lot of water up top anyway for firefighting purposes, they can use it as an inertial mass to fight vibration from wind and earthquakes.

 photo zh1007_zpsb55213ee.jpg

1007. Damper and rubber shock absorbers.

 photo zh1008_zps97e53d6a.jpg

1008. Motor and the top of the tank.

 photo zh1009_zpsfee5d197.jpg

1009. Two-floor view.

 photo zh1010_zpsb9d02625.jpg

1010. Not actually this solar-friendly.

 photo zh1011_zps27283097.jpg

1011. Motor transmission drive and cable belt.  NEEEERRRRD.

 photo zh1012_zps3fde27fd.jpg

1012. A nice display, but the buttons weren't working.  A button alone is sufficient to raise hope in the heart of an engineer; when pushing it does nothing, it shatters then into shards of pure disappointment.

 photo zh1013_zpsf18ccc6a.jpg

1013. Flower design in a park, coming down.

 photo zh1014_zps978b5ab5.jpg

1014. Riffs of cloud over the city.

 photo zh1015_zpsff2a9cbb.jpg

1015. Model of the north side.

 photo zh1016_zps438a61c5.jpg

1016. Outside; northwest on the wharf.  It's a lot different when you can actually see all the way across the river.

 photo zh1017_zpsbe9df09e.jpg

1017. IFC towers and stadium.

 photo zh1018_zps7c6c56b4.jpg

1018. Pearl bridge, ground level.

 photo zh1019_zps15d5941b.jpg

1019. All the way up, finally.

1020. (not germane)

It's been nearly an hour.  If I've still got nothing by 2, I've got to hit the road; I know where there's a shipping desk that's not a form and bad communications, and there's touring I have to do.

Well, that was a bust.  Can't ship the pack, missed half my points due to the rain.  This run of bad luck means it's time to stay in, cut losses, and drink rather than head out to the stadium and see Evergrande live.

 photo zh1021_zps75f3fb2d.jpg

1021. A streaky skyline.

 photo zh1022_zps7a90e92b.jpg

1022. In the park; raining like hell.

 photo zh1023_zps73065991.jpg

1023. Peacock spreads out.

 photo zh1024_zpsdab4c848.jpg

1024. Hill of stone sheep.  I didn't see the 五羊 statue due to the rain, so this will have to do.

 photo zh1025_zps19178cf6.jpg

1025. Lake pavilion.

1026. (DNCO).

 photo zh1027_zps19e4cff9.jpg

1027. Weathered rocks and greenery.

 photo zh1028_zps5746c17e.jpg

1028. Point in the lake.

 photo zh1029_zpseb4743ac.jpg

1029. Bridge into angry clouds.

 photo zh1030_zps6c429ebd.jpg

1030. Bridge in the rain.

v65. Rain hammers the lake.

 photo zh1031_zpsbc48dfca.jpg

1031. Island in the rain.

v66. Water falling in just sheets.

 photo zh1032_zpsa9ec5b7b.jpg

1032. A land crab enjoying the wet weather.

 photo zh1033_zps27c67c45.jpg

1033. Rain and greenery.

 photo zh1034_zps9af1363d.jpg

1034. In the tropical jungle.

Hanyue Mausoleum

After a quick hike around the perimeter, I got to the museum, got through the water curtain in front of the ticket office, and in.

 photo zh1035_zps6335d5ed.jpg

1035. Artifacts from the Han tomb.

1036. (DNCO).

 photo zh1037_zpsfb05b848.jpg

1037. Ceramic pillow from a HK capitalist collection.

 photo zh1038_zpsd174637e.jpg

1038. Tomb furnishings; even the dead gotta eat.  Later, there were dog figures described as "hounds" and 家犬, the first time I'd seen that 'dog' character in China.  It's more usual in Japan, where 狗 is largely unknown, so there's probably a hound/dogge thing going on here like we had happen in English, and which I strongly suspect happened in Russian as well.

 photo zh1039_zpsc68792ad.jpg

1039. Rain on the tomb mound.

 photo zh1040_zps77ab2e48.jpg

1040. Map of the tomb.

 photo zh1041_zps64ddc52d.jpg

1041. Short lintels.  The internal rooms have about a 5'6" clearance, but the doors are 4'6" to 5', so even the ancient Chinese would've had to stoop in.

 photo zh1042_zps8cbc62a8.jpg

1042. In the tomb.  The artifacts have been mostly removed, with only the dust of one of the sacrificed concubines remaining in situ in a glass case, and taking pictures of that and signboards just felt weird.

The secret to haggling is the willingness to walk away.  Not in a git of pique, but just trying to get out of the damn deal.  I talked my last souvenir (for the boss) down to cost, mostly by trying not to buy the damn thing.  I got an unparalleled deal (probably not actual cost), but I DIDN'T WANT TO FUCKING BUY THIS THING.

The reason, of course, is that the sales people get a flat percentage commission on sales, so whatever they shift, no matter how little, they get a cut.  On the street, you'll be able to walk away if you can't get to a price the vendor's happy/comfortable with.

 photo zh1043_zpsc25aa6d9.jpg

1043. A worse death trap.  For a museum in an area with this much rain, the drainage here really sucks.  No wonder the gift shop was cutting such impressive deals.

1044. (DNCO).

 photo zh1045_zpsf94f09d6.jpg

1045. Towers in the evening haze.

1046. (DNCO).

 photo zh1047_zps5a438c8d.jpg

1047. Clearer from the IFCs.

 photo zh1048_zps191a0711.jpg

1048. The gleam of a relatively-clear Guangzhou night.

The nuker may also be inactive, but there's still the kettle and the sink, and I didn't live nearly a year in the Ostmark for nothing.  A couple minutes in the near-boiling-water immersion bath, and the microwave meal from the 7-11 is ready to eat as well, for solid food in addition to bar snacks.

No comments: