Bright and early we joined the 8 other people that made up our tour group for our month long China Odyssey! We were very excited and looking forward to our Imaginative Traveler / Geckos small group adventure holiday where we were promised that we weren’t just visiting a new country but would be experiencing its heart. This was my first organized tour and I was quite glad that it was a small group and we would have a lot of free time in between to do our own thing.
We took a 3 hour ferry ride from Hong Kong to Guangzhou in main land China. Unfortunately it rained quite heavily the whole way so we couldn’t go out on to the deck or actually see the scenery through the windows. We were leaving Hong Kong just in time as the Typhoon that we were warned about the whole weekend had finally arrived.
Guangzhou is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province, located on the Pearl River, about 120 km north-northwest of Hong Kong. Taking a bus from the port to the nearest metro station from where we traveled to the main train station of Guangzhou.
We checked into a hotel next to the train station so that we could freshen up later before our overnight train journey that lay ahead.
Our very first official “group activity” was to visit Yue Xiu Park, the largest park in downtown Guangzhou. The park is just one metro stop down from the train station.
Yuexiu Park covers an area of 860,000 square meters, it is made up of three artificial lakes and seven hills of Yuexiu Mountain.
It is a perfect combination of cultural relics and ecological tourism, reputed for its pretty water and hills as well as cultural relics. With the help of a local map we went in search of the five tiered Zhenhai Tower.
The park is very tranquil and filled with different “gardens”. We walked through a small bamboo forest and a lovely Chinese garden to reach Beixiu Lake covered in tiny paddle boats.
The three beautiful artificial lakes, Beixiu, Dongxiu and Nanxiu cover more than 50,000 square meters. Dongxiu Lake and Nanxiu Lake are tranquil and elegant, inviting painting and sketching artists. Beixiu Lake, surrounded by trees, is open for boating and fishing. The lakes are connected with arch bridges and decorated with pavilions and corridors in the Lingnan Style.
We never actually found the Zhenhai Tower as it started to rain and after a while it just wasn’t fun to walk around in the wet anymore.
After a shower and stocking up on some essentials we were ready for our first over night train to Guilin. Because there were a couple of train and bus journeys lying ahead it was definitely advisable to travel with a backpack. I got my mom and I beautiful expandable backpacks thinking that we would then have extra space available later if we bought ourselves some souvenirs in China. I packed quite light and started out with a 10kg bag for our trip quite the opposite from my mom. My mom had never been backpacking and didn’t quite understand that each extra thing you take adds weight. She started out with her backpack already expanded and weighing 16kg which she regretted quite soon. Seeing as my travel partner packed for herself an extra towel, a pair of jeans, three sets of pj’s a hairdryer and many other “just in case” extras. I must say that later on she did get rid of some things to lighten her load and whenever we left for another part of our journey my mom would leave something behind. Someone in China is walking around in my moms jeans and using her “just in case” towel.
The train was actually better than I had expected and a whole lot cleaner as well. The only thing that grossed me out a bit was the squat toilets that flushed right onto the train tracks.