Lee, a waitress at a restaurant in Guangzhou is giving me a piece of advice. “What is this you’ve ordered? Just hakka noodles? How boring!” she exclaimed. I must say I am a bit taken aback since we’ve just met, at a Cantonese restaurant I decided I should visit. “Oh! You must try the roasted chicken paws with the cantonese dip. It’s delicious.” I smiled. The non-risk taker in me finally came to a bargain with the enthusiastic Lee and I settled for the seafood spaghetti instead.
It’s funny how there’s something about the place while you travel solo. It’s a feeling that is indescribable. The nervousness only lasts till you board the flight. Once you are there, it’s different. And you are fine. There’s a calm which sets in and you know you can do it. My trip to Guangzhou was a spontaneous one. I went there to visit the Canton Fair, through my work place.
The days went by interacting with vendors in the fair. Evenings went in wandering around the city, trying new cuisines and shopping! Yes, shopping. That’s one thing you must do while you are here.
THE SHOPPING SPREE
No trip to China is complete without landing up with an extra suitcase of goodies! Yes, you somehow just end up with those. Its funny. There are a number of underground markets that you could visit, like the markets in Beijing Lu (Lu meaning ‘street’ in Cantonese). Also, a must visit is the Baima market around the city. Great clothes, electronics, accessories and souvenirs are bound to be found at a steal! One of my favourites happened to be ‘Miniso’, a tiny 2 storeyed shop with literally everything under the sun. Right from beauty and travel hacks to delicious knick knacks, this place has it all. So overall, the phrase ‘shop till you drop’ is completely non exaggerated in a city like Guangzhou.
WHERE’S MY FOOD?
When you first set foot in this gorgeous city, the sights and smells are so new that there’s no question that you have arrived somewhere you have never been before. Oh my. This place is a paradise for meat and sea food lovers. I would recommend the ‘Kao ro zhu’ (roasted suckling pig), a treasured delicacy of the Cantonese cuisine culture that is one of Guangzhou’s most prized offerings. Also try the ‘Yum Cha’ along with dimsums. It’s heavenly.
I have a recommendation for all my fellow vegetarians out there too! Somewhere amidst the chaos of the city , traffic and non vegetarian food lies an age old Indian restaraunt called ‘Sharma ji’ that serves the most delicious vegetarian cuisine. I must confess that most of my dinners happened here, not because I didn’t want to try any other restaurant but because the smells here were irresistible.
To all my food lovers,
Try a little bit of everything, for you might not get to taste anything like it in any other place you visit. Remember, the more local you eat, your food is that much more authentic. Happy eating!
When that time of the day arrives when you want to hop around the major tourist spots and create more memories, you realise that there are quite a few places you must visit. The Canton Tower for instance is a lovely place to spend a few hours and it’s a beautiful sight at night. For the peace and quiet lovers, visit the Baiyun Mountain and see it for yourself. You must also rent a bike and travel to Old Guangzhou, a part of the rich heritage left untouched. It’s almost mesmerising to witness the undefined blend of the city and the old town.
IS LANGUAGE A BARRIER?
It’s a barrier if you really consider it one. It’s true that not everybody knows English here and they prefer talking in Cantonese, but it is also true that they are extremely helpful people. After all, we are all humans. If nothing, gestures always work! And whats life wihout a little barrier? Trust me, it’s the language difference that makes it exciting!
TIP: Always carry your hotel card along with you. It’s more helpful than you realise.
Like always, I left a part of myself here and at the same time, took a little bit of this beautiful culture along with with me. “And my best part of the trip?” they ask me. “The fact that I traveled solo”, I shall always say.