China Day 5

Woke up late again, and to top it off, I did the stupid thing of drinking orange juice first thing in the morning. For those who aren't aware, I can't drink OJ right in the morning, because the sudden acidity change caused gastrointestinal discomfort. I.e., a stomach ache. Real bad. So I sat there, all foetal position, trying to quell the storm brewing up in my abdominal area. After drinking some water to try and dilute the acidity (and desperately considering drinking bleach to neutralise the low pH... I'm only joking. Don't do that. But I did consider trying to find some basic substances to drink), as well as taking a pill of panadol, I felt a lot better. Also, thankfully, China's OJ is not as... 'pure' as Sydney's, and thus it was mostly water and sugar, rather than actual citrus. So perhaps that's also a reason why the ache passed quickly.

Thus, we went to the train station to catch public transport. I've caught the train before, so it was nothing new. Something I noticed was the frequency of the trains; a train every three minutes, and the sheer safety and efficiency of the Guangzhou Metro. It's so clean, so fast, and so easy to navigate, even for a half-foreigner like myself who knows bollocks about reading Chinese characters. 

However, I have to say, there are a lot more people. It's essentially rush hour for the entire of the weekend, and don't even get me started on the crowds during /actual/ rush hour on weekdays. Sardines in a can, let's leave it at that. A bursting sardine can.

The coin tokens that are used as single tickets in the Guangzhou metro.
Let's just say they're easy to lose and once I dropped one, and thus managed to lock myself out of the gate.
We headed off to my grandmother's apartment and bought some cheap bread to feed the fish, which is a pastime that we do every year. Annual tradition, if you must call it that. There's something oddly satisfying about feeding these fish, even as an 18 year old who's done it a countless number of times. Unfortunately, I left my GoPro extension stick at home, and thus had to make do with my shorter hand-grip.

Koi! Gnathostomata classification in the subphylum Vertebrata in the phylum Chordata.

Next, it was time for our lunch. Surprise surprise, yum cha!

Really cute dog breads. Don't worry, the meat wasn't dog meat. I think.

Man, I've been eating so much food and it's only day 5. I swear my stomach has extended a couple of centimetres already, and I've been eating chicken and pigeon almost daily. Actually, I think I've literally been eating chicken every day. And I use literally literally.

After yum cha (which is basically lunch every day), we had some time to burn so we headed back off to feed the fish and shop around. 

4 rmb for an entire packet of bread?!

Also, super nice views. Of polluted streams. But nonetheless photo-worthy.

A bit of fun at the playground.

Afterwards went shopping a bit at Carol & John's, which is a store we frequent on an annual basis. Purchased a blazer, which I think will come in handy for more serious meetings, e.g., interviews, etc.

Price: ¥195rmb, ~$40AUD. Often we buy a lot more at C&J's but this time none of the stuff really tickled our fancy.

After walking around a bit more, and purchasing a pair of sport shoes for my brother, a portable hard drive, and headphones, we chilled out a bit and went off to feed the fish again for another hour or so. Total money spent on buying bread to feed fish? ¥12rmb, which is only equivalent to just above $2AUD but it's quite a lot for the culture here. The shopkeeper was sort of like "Woah, who are these guys, spending 12 rmb on bread for fish?! Insane!"

We also passed a busker, which allowed for some reflection. This was the first time I'd seen a busker in Guangzhou (at least, for a very very long time), and we gave him ¥5rmb to start. We watched for a while. I was curious to see how the culture here would respond to buskers. I can assure you there were a lot less people giving money, despite his talents at singing. And you can be sure that each donation was merely a couple of rmb.

It contrasts a lot to Sydney, where you see buskers everywhere, and they earn quite a summable amount. Giving $5AUD to a Sydney busker is about parallel to giving ¥5rmb to a similar counterpart in Guangzhou. I suppose the culture is different. Perhaps it's the communist influence or just in general the business of the lives of the public, but there seems to be an atmosphere that is muttering 'no-one-has-time-for-this', and thus we keep on walking and don't even stop to appreciate the music pervading the smog covered air.

In hindsight, I suppose it's because everyone here is short of time. Being a tourist, I'm an exception, though really my time is always limited too. What is free time? 

I get the feeling that the majority of the population, except the very well-off in the high echelons of society, find that a day does not have enough hours. From my impression of middle-aged relatives, they're always thinking of 'where to go next', 'how to get there', and considering traffic, money, and most of all, time. Not a chance to consider a busker, since attention is optional.

Unfortunately, we bumped into peak hour on the metro on our way to dinner, which was a stressful situation. There are moments when I felt like it was a life-of-death situation. 
Kind of like when an apocalypse happens and people are fighting the crowds all trying to migrate to a safe zone, and you're threatened with eternal separation with your loved ones if your hand grip slips from theirs. 

It may sound like an exaggeration, but for an older sister grasping the small hand of my younger brother (who happens to be at a height where he sees nothing but asses in his line of sight), it certainly feels like that. There is no existence of personal space on the Guangzhou metro at 6pm, even on a Sunday (because people work 7 days a week, and the sheer amount of people trying to head home for dinner means it's peak hour daily). 

Shoulder to shoulder, bags smashing and flying everywhere, where you actually lose sight of your family and friends -- the only indication that they still exist is the touch of their hand on yours. It's that frightening, and as a young child I've had moments where the sweaty palms of fear have caused my hand to slip from my mothers, and believe me, it's terrifying

There were moments when I thought I would die -- on the verge of tears -- because as a young child I was warned of kidnappers who would steal young children, beat them up and disable them, and then force them out to beg for money. I'm talking about kids who had had both their legs hacked off, who were blind in one eye, and crawling on the dirty streets.

Psssssh, they probably just told me that to scare me? Yeah nah. I saw a fair few with my own eyes as a seven year old -- children the same age as me, as dirty as the floor people spat on, crawling among crowds with metal bowls, begging for coins. Not a nice sight for a child my age, and so after seeing a sight like that...

But it's not that bad now. I'm 97% sure that this no longer happens, at least, in the Guangzhou area.

And being crowded and shoved around is all part of the experience!! After once or twice, you get used to it and it's not so terrifying. It's sort of a day-in-day-out, 'this is how it is', sort of thing. I exaggerate the fear in my story, though it very much is like that in hindsight. In the moment, you're too desperate to give it enough thought to possibly describe it in the way as I have so above.
Also, a side note -- I don't know why I haven't mentioned it earlier -- but I've been writing these posts as the days go on, although they're not being posted till a while after. I suppose memory isn't a permanent thing, and I'm afraid I'll forget the vividness and details if I wait till blogspot is blocked before I write the details of my trip up.
Something else about Guangzhou that I've failed to mention thus far is the tension? In more ways than one; people are busy, crowded, and the urban smells present often wafts of disgustingness. The Cantonese language, to which I am native tongue, is often described as 'angry', and I'm telling the truth when I say that arguing in Cantonese rolls easily off the tongue, much like a drop of rainwater rolls off a rainforest leaf. We argue about everything. Product prices, at restaurants, about service, in traffic, etc. It's embedded in our nature. Mind you, it's not violent, it's just how it is. We argue a lot. We scold a lot. You could relate this to the 'tiger mum' concept; tough love, but let's not go there, or this post will never end (as if it's not long enough already.) Don't get me wrong; I don't mean 'argue' as the typical Westernised view. It's more like complaining(?) Or just accusing prices of being too expensive, etc. Perhaps a better description would just be 'negative comments', and many children raised in these environments are far too familiar with the negative comments in the household. Not to say one form of raising is better than the other -- I'm no specialist. It's just an observation. And there are always exceptions. 

Anyway, back on topic. The action of arguing and criticising is so natural that I myself find it easier to argue than it is to talk normally in Cantonese, which is a curious phenomena.

Okay. I've run out of things to say.

Day end.


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Hello! I'm a student from Australia. I like photography, am aspiring to be a Doctor, have fallen in love with many things that life has to offer, and hope to see more of it. I've been blogging for a while and over the years what it means to me has changed. Currently still trying to figure that out, but here I am in a weird hybridisation of photography, film, blogging, and the confusion of a young adult, you'll find me here writing about my experiences and life. Or whatever tickles my fancy. Whether that's entertaining or not is yours to decide. Stay hydrated, kids.