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Before I visited Guangzhou I’d heard so much about “her” (though for some reason I see Guangzhou as more of a “him”). Anyhow, I’d heard so much  about Guangzhou and a lot of what I’d heard was that the city was just functional! Expect no pleasure, expect no beauty, just market after market, work, work, work!

Alas! I experienced the exact opposite of that! I loved Guangzhou and all the provinces around it which I visited. I enjoyed the warmth and the kindness of its people even through the language barrier, I enjoyed the superior customer service that the Chinese are known for, I enjoyed beautiful home cooked Chinese meals and even when I visited markets, I was blown away by markets with elevators, free wi-fi and which were really clean. I also thoroughly enjoyed the deep tissue massages and the foot massages that seemed to be the norm in China! I mean like at the end of the day, you visit a massage parlor even at 10p.m and you see people seated in neat rows getting a foot rub! Talk about making serenity cultural!

It was an amazing experience for me and I wanted to share photos with you and to say “I know that from Nigeria you can only get a Business Visa to China, but that doesn’t mean when you go to China you must do only business, please explore the city you are in, travel a little and enjoy the beauty of the real people and  their very unique way of living”. #jesssaying

Before I travel anywhere, I create an itinerary, so that I am sure that I have enough days to do all the things that I NEED to do, (i.e. the reason for which I travelled, without which the trip would not be considered successful). After putting in enough time to do what is necessary, I then plan a couple of days for fun and plan it so I choose activities/places proximate to one another and group them for a particular day. On the day I visited the Guangzhou Tower, I also visited the Park where the Asia Olympic Games were held and took a city view boat cruise, which was absolute fun! (You can plan to do this by making out 4 hours in the evening after you are done with work).

 

 

The Hai Xin Sha Park is the park where the Asia Olympic games were held. It overlooks the IFC building (tall black building in the centre) and I hear that strip of real estate is the most expensive strip in Guangzhou at the moment. The 4 Seasons Hotel is in the building next to it.

 

I liked the black and red building to the right. I hear its a big museum, but I didn’t get to visit it on this trip. I have left it so I have another excuse for when next I “have” to visit China.

 

Also part of the Hia Xin Sha park where the Asia Olympic Games were held. This park is quite large and most evenings, you’d find a lot of people in it, mothers with their kids, lovers holding hands, people taking photos and a lot stands and kiosks where you could buy local snacks and ice-cream.

 

 

 

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The Hua Xin Sha Park- photo taken from behind on the boat.

 

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One of the things I loved most about Guangzhou was the creative use of space… this huge garden on a rooftop is a way that is used in Guangzhou to create a balance between the dense population, land that's mostly built up and the need for plants and the oxygen they provide… So that even where ground space is occupied, much needed greenery is still provided. I liked that.
One of the things I loved most about Guangzhou was the creative use of space… this huge garden on the rooftop of the Canton Place is apparently a common way of designing spaces within the city, to create a balance between the dense population, land that’s mostly built up and the need for plants and the oxygen they provide… So that even where ground space is occupied, much-needed greenery is still provided. I liked that.

 

The Dragon Boat at the Canton Place
The Dragon Boat at the Canton Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most evenings after a hard day’s work, I wound down by visiting the Canton Place. It’s a nice square that has a Starbucks,  a Costa, a Haagen-Dazs Store and an Oggi (for great Italian food)- all my best things! It also has some great designer shopping (which I didn’t do), French food, a beautiful book store that had the most exquisite writing materials and beautiful water works and an excellent ambiance.

Every time we had to go to the Canton Place for lunch, I noticed there were always kids playing with their grand parents. Not kids and their parents. I found it curious and  asked my guide why this was so. She explained that Guangzhou being a major city meant rents were high, most people had to work and domestic help/baby sitters were extremely expensive. She also mentioned that because of the old one child policy of China, the parent of the child, was also likely to be an only child, so the families felt a need to keep close by enlisting the help of grand parents in child care.

 

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My first meal at Oggi, they didn’t serve me water. They served this tea with lemon slices and the clear liquid in the little jug was some kind of sugar. When I asked for a cold glass of water, I was told lemon and tea were better for digestion… LOL! Naija girl, I quickly educated them on the need for water and we arrived at the happy compromise of warm water and lemon…

 

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The Canton Place, I loved the fact that stepping out of the street into the square made you feel like you just stepped unto a Parisian sidewalk!

 

Oh and you know I have to talk about the food right? Trying the local cuisine is an essential part of assimilating culture (yes, that’s my excuse):

This was by far my best meal in China in the two weeks that I visited. And that was for 2 reasons; the first and most important being that I met someone in China who quickly became a friend and who invited me over to her house for a home cooked meal made by her Mum. I thought that it was very sweet. This meal was also particularly special because though I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, I somehow always feel “left out”, I look longingly at local homes and wonder how the people really live, knowing that living in a place and vacationing in a place are totally different experiences. So being let into a home, seeing how they lived, seeing the children in their natural habitat, seeing how the three generations in the home related made this meal so much more special! It was really delicious as well… #thiswasblessing

 

As I had come to expect in China, this meal also ended with some tea. I brought back some of this calming digestion aiding tea, feel free to stop by and have some with me.
As I had come to expect in China, this meal also ended with some tea. I brought back some of this calming digestion aiding tea, feel free to stop by and have some with me.

 

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View from my friend’s apartment #dinnerwithaviewanyone?

 

Another really fun thing to do in Guangzhou is visit the Chimelong Circus! Wow! What a show! Check out my instagram handle at Hajel Pitan for some of the videos from the Chimelong Circus. It was my first time at a circus and aside from when the white lions were sort of left to roam free, and when that clown was playing with a massive snake, it was totally awesome! Such skill excellence and precision, I had my heart in my mouth to see what great and dangerous lengths, they went to thrill us!

 

An African troop at the Chimelong Circus in Guangzhou!

 

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Ethereal!

 

 

And a white Tiger was paraded through the crowd at the circus… hmm… The Yorubas have a name for this "ere kere!"
And white Tigers were paraded through the crowd at the circus… hmm… The Yorubas have a name for this “ere kere”. I was comforted that there was so much “food” to get through before they could get to me.

 

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At the Chimelong Circus!

 

Okay, I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with me. I can’t wait for my next visit to China when I plan to find a reason to get to the Great Wall of China, to Shanghai and to the awesome Jiu Jia Go National Park, where the waters are so clear you can see right to the bottom.

 

Every time I experience a new place, new people and new cultures I am amazed at how beautiful and how big God is. How you cannot put Him in a box, how there is so much diversity and beauty in Him and how the entire creation just honours Him! How as human beings there is more that unites us, than separates us. I  also love how there is ‘a language of humanity’- a smile, a kind word, thoughtfulness, courtesies that show the other person matters and strangers who become friends… It truly is a beautiful world, remember to be and add beauty to it! Stay awesome!

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