Shangri-la ti da

Guangzhou Travel Blog

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Hanoi Airport

People who made my travels more enjoyable: Michelle (USA)

Today, Michelle and I were flying to Guangzhou. Vietnam had been an experience, and I was looking forward to what I imagined would be a more comfortable part of our trip. As with everything in Vietnam, nothing went as expected. Upon checkout the front desk manager informed us that the driver had the wrong time. I stressed to him that our plane left soon and we needed to get to the airport. Kindly, he picked up the phone and started calling around. After a few calls and tense minutes, the driver showed up. We threw our bags in the trunk of his car and set off toward the airport. The ride was fine, but the driver looked like he could fall asleep at any moment.

Waiting at the gate, China here I come!
I was just praying we'd make it without having an accident!

At the airport we checked in and went through security. For an international airport, especially one in Vietnam's capital city, I couldn't believe what poor shape the structure was in. There was little or no A/C, the floors and bathrooms were dirty and most impressive was the security equipement that seemed to be manufactured in Eastern Europe during the 1960's. After about half an hour in the terminal, we boarded our China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou.

After about 1.5 hours we touched down at Baiyun airport in Guangzhou. As soon as we touched down I could see an immediate contrast, in terms of development, between Guangzhou and Hanoi. The airport was in pristine condition, there were many Chinese travelers (compared to mainly tourists in Vietnam) and things just appeared a bit more orderly.

Shopping center in Guangzhou
Michelle had significant experience in China and her horror stories seemed like Tall Tales at this point. We collected our bags and made it through passport control without a hitch. Before we boarded a bus that would take us near our hotel, I went straight for McDonalds. Yes I know... I eat a lot of fast food in Asia... Most menu items were the same, but it was interesting to see the differences. The main thing that I noticed were a number of fruity beverages that didn't exist on US or Korean menus. Luckily, a big mac, fries and a coke taste just about the same no matter where you are!

I had only spent about 20 minutes in China, but my experience in McDonalds taught me a bit about how Chinese reacted/interacted with foreigners. Similar to Korea or Vietnam, few people had a strong enough vocabulary to communicate solely in English.

In the lobby at the Shangri-La
Instead their body language and mannerisms were incredibly telling. In Korea, many people become extremely shy or embarrassed when approached by a foreigner. For multiple reasons, Koreans face a lot of pressure to speak English, and speak it well. Rather than attempt and fail, many Koreans simply shy away. In Vietnam, people were more willing to speak English, but the intention was usually to sell some good or service. In China, I'd say the dominate feeling toward foreigners is one of either genuine curiosity or casual indifference. 

Michelle, thanks to her awesome Chinese skills, got us on the correct bus. In twenty or so minutes we approached, what I would consider, downtown Guangzhou. Two things struck me as we drove along. Guangzhou had some strikingly beautiful sky skrapers and the freeway on which we traveled, was now 100 feet above the city streets.

Pouring tea in Guangzhou
I've been on tall freeways before, the on-ramps to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco or the George Washington bridge in New York come to mind. However, in Guangzhou there was no bridge, we were simply traveling on an extremely elevated highway!

Our hotel was about two miles from the bus stop, so once we hopped off Michelle hailed a cab. The cab ride was ridiculously inexpensive and after what seemed like a minute, we arrived at the hotel. Normally I wouldn't pay so much attention to a hotel, but damn, the Shangri-La just blew me away. For more details check out my review!

I spent the afternoon lounging around while Michelle went to explore a bit of the city. Once she returned, we went to the fitness center and then got ready for dinner. We asked the concierge what to recommend and he suggested a Cantonese-style seafood restaurant.

Dinner in Guangzhou (damn delicious btw)
Neither of us had done any research so we were at the mercy of the concierge. A short cab ride later and we arrived at a brightly lit and rather large restaurant. The restaurant, despite it's large size, reminded me of one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. The food was fantastic (this was the first of many delicious meals I had in China) the service was prompt and the environment was very comfortable. I got so caught up in the moment I even tried to ask "where's the bathroom?" in Chinese, which only brought a blank stare from the waitress haha!

After dinner we returned to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing. Tomorrow we would take the train to Hong Kong. My first day in China had been very relaxing and pleasant. After the heat and frustration of Vietnam, China seemed like the promise land. 

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Hanoi Airport
Hanoi Airport
Waiting at the gate, China here I …
Waiting at the gate, China here I…
Shopping center in Guangzhou
Shopping center in Guangzhou
In the lobby at the Shangri-La
In the lobby at the Shangri-La
Pouring tea in Guangzhou
Pouring tea in Guangzhou
Dinner in Guangzhou (damn deliciou…
Dinner in Guangzhou (damn delicio…
Departures
Departures
Park in Guangzhou
Park in Guangzhou
Sign at the restaurant
Sign at the restaurant
Nice and clean
Nice and clean
Remnants of our delicious meal
Remnants of our delicious meal
Shangri-La entrance
Shangri-La entrance
Fountains
Fountains
Lobby
Lobby
Cool chandeliers
Cool chandeliers
Outside the hotel (near the pool)
Outside the hotel (near the pool)
Another view
Another view
The hotel lights up at night!
The hotel lights up at night!
Outdoor pool
Outdoor pool
Guangzhou Hotels & Accommodations review
Amazing service, Good value, Best hotel ever
First off, this place is brilliant. So brilliant that I even named my blog entry after the hotel. I have stayed at a number of top hotels, Interconti… read entire review
Guangzhou
photo by: westwind57