On our first morning in Guangzhou we slept in very late – it was so cold that we just didn’t want to get out of bed! For breakfast we tried the mini mangos without peeling them, as we had read was possible, but the skin was quite bitter. The yoghurt was OK but, unsurprisingly, tasted slightly sweetened.
Although it was dull and cold it wasn’t raining, so we walked a couple of blocks east of the hotel to the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Entry was ¥10, and the compound and main pagoda were pleasant and busy with Buddhist nuns. It looked as though preparations for a festival were under way with new-looking red lanterns hung in the trees, lots of cleaning activity, and a guy whizzing round in a little truck with tiny trees laden with miniature oranges. Remembering my first visit to a Guangzhou public loo in 1987 I was apprehensive about using the ones at the temple, but although they were squat style they were clean and didn’t smell.
Walking on east along Zhongshan 6 Road we passed the People’s Park, where we lingered to watch old men playing Go. We might have stayed longer, but a strange woman in a pink jacket kept squeezing my arm. Further along we explored a shopping mall which contained several restaurants, but they weren’t cheap, few had menus in English, and the walk from the hotel was bit far for them to be useful.
At the junction of Zhongzhan 6 Road and Beijing Street we were accosted by numerous guys trying to sell us bags, watches and jackets, and we decided to leave exploration of Beijing Street for another day. Too tired to walk all the way, we walked back to Gongyuanqian metro station and rode the one stop back to Ximenkou, where we noticed that a shop near the exit sold tuna sandwiches and split one for a late lunch back in the room.
After making arrangements to meet a friend later in the week we went to a nearby Pizza Hut for dinner – on our 1987 visit the only global chain restaurant in China was a newly opened KFC in Beijing, which sold instant mashed potatoes instead of chips. Now the big names seem to be everywhere. My small pizza did look very small, but it was enough. Although shockingly un-Chinese!