It all started here...

It all started here...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guangzhou $99 Tour-Day 1 and 2 Guangzhou, Foshan, Kaiping

November 15, 2014 Beijing to Guangzhou, China

After our official whirlwind four days visits to five cities, we stayed an extra night in Beijing before heading down south to the city of Guangzhou. We would join another budget tour in this southern part of China and this tour was named 7-day "Gourmet Tour" of the Pearl River. For $99USD, this tour covers 5 nights of hotel stay, tour, and meals. Of course, there's the mandatory fee of $180pp for the selected entertainment that everyone must attend to, plus the daily tips for the guide and bus driver. All in all, still a cheap way to visit some parts of China that we probably won't get to on our own.

On board the CZ 3104 flight to Guangzhou. This was a full plane.

Dinner was served.

We arrived Guangzhou airport at around 7pm. I thought we were making good time but it seemed like everybody else left the baggage claim area by the time we got there. After we claimed our luggage our driver from the tour came hurry in. He said he was stuck in traffic and barely got to the airport. The four of us took the 45 minutes drive to town in this van.

We were dropped off at this hotel--Guangzhou Vertical City Hotel for the night. This hotel is pretty nice, near the subway station and plenty of shopping within walking distance. It's also inside a high-rise that housed offices and stores. I don't remember exactly what floor we were in, but our room was way up near the top of the building.

After checking in, we decided to take a walk and get something to eat. We just walked across the street and there were many restaurants and stores that looked interesting. SC bought a small rolling suitcase and we enjoyed a light snack at one of the restaurants before getting back to our hotel rooms for the night.

We woke up to this--a great view of the city way up high.

After a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant on the top floor, we gathered our things and met our guide and other members of this tour to start our adventure.

Day 2--November 16, 2014--Guangzhou-Foshan-Kaiping
These low cost tours are basically designed for overseas Chinese, so everyone on these tours would be from either USA, Canada, Australia or other countries. These tours are of good value if you don't mind all the shopping stops that you cannot get out of. We were told that these businesses sponsor these tours, that's how they can run them at such low cost.

Passing water bottles from the front of the bus to the back--a fun morning exercise.

Shots taken from the bus as we were driving through the city on our way to Foshan.

南風古灶 'South Wind Ancient Kiln', Foshan--this is an old kiln and supposedly been burning non-stop for 500 years. Other than the ancient kiln, the old banyan tree, the ancient village, and traditional handicrafts can be seen at this location.

All these Bruce Lee's statues...

inside the kiln

old village that turned into an artists alley

The ancient tree.

One of the artists workshops

The Wing-Chun (a type of martial arts, which Bruce Lee was famous for) museum.

A wall of roof tiles

Show room

Entrance to the Ancient Kiln, many students were there for their field trips on that day.

I think this is the 'yellow eels' rice pot--one of the 'gourmet' item.

The restaurant where we had our first lunch on this tour.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Beijing--November 13~15, 2014

Our whirlwind tour in China almost comes to an end. We have been making good use of the high speed trains throughout this trip and our last leg on the train was from Nanjing to Beijing. The train rides were enjoyable and comfortable except one aspect--if you have bags bigger than a carry-on size it could be hectic. In our case, we made good use of the 'red caps' at each station when available. Paying about $10RMB for each piece of luggage made a world of difference and so worth it! With priority boarding and not having to stay in line with the crowds made it a much easier transition from the waiting hall to the door of the train. Once you are on the train you still have to find ways to settle your luggage though.

Complimentary drink and snacks provided on the first class train car on this five-hour ride.

First class car--notice we had to lift the luggage up to the rack, doable but only with strong muscles.

Stopping at one of the cities along the way.

Dinner--"must have"--Peking Duck!

Hotel--Novotel Beijing. This is the entrance to their buffet restaurant where we had our breakfast. Good choices and varieties but can be very crowded in the morning. Love their yogurt drink!

Rooms are spacious but dated.

I think a 'face-lift' is in order.

Our room facing the main street, which made it interesting watching the activities in the morning.

Exterior of Novotel Beijing

One of the government buildings on the same street. Forgot what it was.

I think this is the "Hou Hai" Lake (Back Sea).

Historical area in Beijing, absolutely beautiful!

So peaceful!

Former residence of Soong Ching Ling (Mrs. Sun Yat Sen). Unfortunately, we were scheduled for a meeting and did not get a chance to visit this place.

After the meeting we continue our walk to a restaurant nearby for an official luncheon.

Street side barber shop

Restaurant where we had our amazing lunch hosted by a certain government office.

Look at the presentations!

Other than the appetizers, dishes were served individually.
Tung Po Pork Belly

crab and shrimps

Even though I was not feeling well and couldn't eat anything, I couldn't resist tasting this delicious beef in special broth. Incredible!

Well decorated atmosphere

One of the pieces in the garden


Last glimpse of the lake

Hutong (Alley)

This area is old Beijing, with hutongs and old buildings all around.

With the free afternoon, we visited Wang Fu Jing, which is a short walk from the hotel.

a pedestrian street

Snack Alley

A modern and upscale shopping mall all decorated for Christmas.

Passing the CCTV building on our way to the airport.

Beijing Airport (Domestic)

Domestic Terminal