Posts Tagged ‘ Guangzhou ’

China- Guangzhou (part 2)

April 10, 2010

China is the most populous country in the world. Expect huge crowds in popular areas like the train station. Also, it is common practice to buy train tickets in advance especially during peak season (ie. Spring Festival) but you may still buy one on the spot. Getting one from travel agencies there is also one way to make it a lot more convenient.

Guangzhou's railway station

Many were loitering by the train station's entrance

It was crowded when we got there. There were long lines to get inside the train station itself. This was the chaotic part as some people would push and shove to get to the front first. Everyone had lots of baggage so that adds to the feeling of being swallowed up by a crowd. ;) Once inside, you’ll have to look for your platform (if you can board already, there’s a huge screen showing these details) and respective coach number. People were running and I was tempted to run alongside them (excited much? ^_^) but my companion reminded me that we’re on time and that there was no need for us to run.

After we found our train, a conductor ushered us to our compartment after checking our ticket. There were 6 bunks in a compartment (ours was near the entrance of the coach) but when we rode the train, it was just us there. It was a different story on the coach’s other end. It seemed crowded or probably, they were just loud and were loitering by the aisle. My friend was admittedly disappointed with this as he was keen for me to mingle with the locals. He probably would have dragged me there if I’d let him. hehe

It took us 12 hours to get from Guangzhou to Guilin. Our tickets (for a hard sleeper) cost 215 rmb each (1rmb=7php). The train left at 6pm.

My hard sleeper

There are four common type of train tickets available:

Soft sleeper

These are private compartments which are fitted out to a higher standard. Each compartment has four bunks and a double action  door allowing separate access to the two upper and two lower bunks. Comfortable bedding and good quality pillows are provided. Each bunk is equipped with a small reading lamp. Temperature controls are installed alongside the door. Generally speaking, the facilities include a clothes rack, slippers, clothes brush, stainless steel thermos, fine porcelain teacup, a trash can and wall socket. Some of the trains may have a squat-style toilet together with a supply of toilet paper. The price is a little higher than the other kinds of seats.

Hard Sleeper

The so-called hard sleeper is generally less comfortable than the soft sleeper. The compartments are open and comprise six fixed bunks, arranged as an upper, middle and lower on either side. Basic bedding such as sheets, pillow slips, blankets and pillows are provided. The space tends to be cramped and inclined to be noisy at times. However, if you are obliged to take an overnight train trip, the hard berth is highly cost effective.

Soft Seat

There are no bunks for sleeping, just a nice, comfortable cushioned seat. The carriages are clean and roomy.

Hard Seat

This is the basic way to take a train trip, and has the lowest price. As the name implies it can be something of an ordeal, especially for a long or an overnight journey. The seat is less soft, roomy and comfortable than a soft seat. The carriages are always noisy and crowded with people, especially during peak times or the high travel season on the most popular railway routes. Usually, people holding standing-room-only tickets are arranged to stand along the aisles of hard-seat carriages. The toilets are usually unclean and cramped (only 1.2 square yards) and no toilet paper is supplied. For the adventurous or maybe just a short daytime journey this is acceptable as it is a wonderful way to experience something of the timelessness of the real China and its people.


The train's aisle

During the trip, food laden carts would regularly make their rounds. You can buy noodles, drinks, fruits, etc from there. It is better though to buy your snacks before you get on the train so that you’ll save some money (a big bowl of instant noodles is around 4rmb outside, it can easily cost twice that inside the train). Also, don’t be misled by its name, hard sleepers in my opinion are a comfortable way to travel (I wasn’t cramped on my bed, the sheets were clean, lots of space!). ;)

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Trekking a Karst Mountain

Arrival in Yangshuo

China – Guangzhou (part 1)

April 9, 2010

My flight for Guangzhou, my first in mainland China, left late at night. After a short almost 2 hours flight, the flight attendant  welcomed us in 3 languages upon touchdown (English, Filipino, Cantonese). I’ve now officially arrived in China!♥

But wait, how do I pronounce Guangzhou? Gwang-zoo? Gwang-zu-o? The proper way to do it is by saying “Gwang-jo” since their “zh” has a “j” sound. :)

It was chilly when I got there. At the immigration, everything’s the same save for one, they take pictures of those arriving in their country. Uh oh! I am so not photogenic! Ugh!

At the last inspection, I was pulled aside after I said it was my first time there, routine baggage inspection. It was kinda funny though because I brought ube with me to give to my host (my mom bought it in Baguio’s Good Shepherd). When the lady officer saw it, she asked me what it was. So picture a small rectangular clear container filled to the brim with a smooth surfaced, soft, violet thingy and you have no idea what it is (she tried to smell it but it has no odor). I was trying to explain that it came from a rootcrop and that we use it for desert (I wanted to cite halohalo as an example but she gave me a blank stare, time for another tactic!). I enthusiastically suggested to her to try it coz its delicious! haha She was surprised about my offer she stammered out “No, no! It’s okay. You go! Go ahead!” :D

It was chaotic when we got outside the airport. I traveled with a close friend there. He was already in China so he was waiting for me at the arrival area. Guys in suits walked up to us and tried to sell us cigarettes, local sims (they have a good deal it turns out), or usher you to one of the cabs in line. We ignored it all and got on an airport shuttle bus outside to head for the city.

TIP: To head to the city, it is cheaper to ride an airport shuttle bus found just outside the arrival area’s exit. They can cost anywhere from 8-40rmb depending on your destination. We went to Tianhe district and it cost us 20rmb each.

We were hosted by Pietro in Tianhe District on our first night.  It was nice of him to allow us into his home eventhough he was busy moving on to a new place (and with the opening of his restaurant, Amici Miei). We slept very late coz we chatted the night away. :)

Pietro's cozy living room

The view from my room :)

We had the whole day to enjoy before we board our train for Guilin that night. However, since I wasn’t exactly dressed for cold weather, I opted (though with a heavy heart) that we explore only the areas near our host’s place.

The park in front of our building

TIP: April is spring time in China BUT that doesn’t mean that it’s not cold anymore. Better be prepared and check the weather before you fly there and bring a jacket with warm lining, a pair of gloves, and scarves with you to keep you warm. Locals were wearing coats and boots while I was there!

Guangzhou on a cold, foggy morning

Inside one of Guangzhou's metro station

Before we boarded the train, we met with another host of ours, Giselle, so that I can leave my luggage with her. I wanted to travel light so I only brought my backpack along.  :)

Complete listing of the airport shuttle bus’ route and fares

Related Posts:
DIY: Chinese Visa Application

To Guilin by Train

Cruising the Li River

The Quaint Town of Xingping

Trekking a Karst Mountain

Arrival in Yangshuo