Beijing Road in Guangzhou

Beijing Road in Guangzhou

Another of Guangzhou’s interesting streets is Beijing Road, it’s also a commercial street and again it’s packed with shops, malls and restaurants. Beijing Road is a little more cosmopolitan than Shangxiajiu Pedestrian St but some say a little more expensive too. It’s also pedestrian friendly with no cars.

Along with boutique shops and brand name retail outlets there’s also several large malls including Grandbuy, Xindaxin and Mayflower.

If market stalls, what could be brand name copies, and doing some hard bargaining for a good deal is more your thing, theres also places for that too.

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Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou

Stretching for over 1 kilometer along Shangjiu Rd, Xia Jui Rd and Dishifu Rd in Liwan District Guangzhou, the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Mall is home to hundreds of shops including several malls and many great restaurants.

 This is one of Guangzhou’s older streets and features an interesting mix of old European and Chinese architecture. Much of shopping streets older buildings look recently renovated which I guess was part of the city’s preparation for the Asian Games.

Li Wan Plaza is one of the many department stores/malls on the shopping street and turned out to be a great place to get breakfast. Shops don’t open until ten, thus the empty mall, but several shops in the mall are open for breakfast and one of those is located up on the fourth floor serving up and excellent dim sum, even better was the price, 2 well fed people for under 50RMB (~8aud) is always great value, particularly when it tastes this good.

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Shamian Island, Guangzhou

Shamian Island, Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also called Canton, is the capital city of Guangdong Province. It’s a hot bed for entrepreneurs and traders as it has been for much of China’s history, but it’s also very well known for it’s culinary creations.

The bus from Humen to Guangzhou takes about 90 minutes and costs 40RMB (5aud) and terminated at the Guangzhou Railway Station, which is huge, and being Golden Week theres people everywhere! So, now it’s off to a Shamian Island, which is a bit strange because Guangzhou is an inland city…..

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Sea Battle Museum & Weiyuan Fort at Humen

Sea Battle Museum & Weiyuan Fort at Humen

The town of Humen holds a special place in Chinas history for it’s role during the first Opium War which ran from 1839-1842. It’s actually quite a famous place in China, where a strong battle was waged against the importing of opium and in that battle a legend was made, namely Lin Zexu.

Many people record that it was due to Lin Zexu’s strong opposition to the import and use of opium, that he saw destroying his community, that led to the first war against the British. As a government official he cracked down strongly on opium traders and even offered British merchants the option to change from dealing opium to tea. 

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Accommodation in Humen: the Grand Noble Hotel

Accommodation in Humen: the Grand Noble Hotel

While in Humen we stayed at the Grand Noble Hotel. It’s a clean, comfortable hotel, the food at the restaurant was more than fine and there was even English speaking staff.

For rates and more info on the Grand Noble Hotel here.

Here is a map of other hotels in Humen, Dongguan, Guangdong China.

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Clothes and Fashion in Humen China

Clothes and Fashion in Humen China

If there’s one thing that keeps me in awe about about China it’s simply the scale of things. As we drive from Shenzhen to Humen we pass factory after factory. I don’t often need much reminding that this is the worlds most populus country but I’m reminded again that it’s also the worlds factory.

Instead of catching a bus from Shenzhen to Humen we got lucky and found a taxi that needed to get back to that area, so for the same price as the bus tickets, were getting a ride straight to our hotel door.

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Humen Town of Dongguan China

Humen Town of Dongguan China

So whats so special about Humen? Well, for one it’s probably where the shirt your wearing is made and it’s also where some of the major battles of the Opium Wars were fought. 

The town of Humen is part of the larger city Dongguan which is located about half way between Shenzhen and Guangzhuo. It’s also located right beside the all important Zhujiang River which joins to the Pearl River inland and heads out to sea past Shenzhen.  The river forms a major shipping route and Humen has a large port making it an important gateway to Southern China. 

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Shenzhen Minsk World – The Ex-Russian Aircraft Carrier

Shenzhen Minsk World – The Ex-Russian Aircraft Carrier

So where do you go when you want to explore a second generation Soviet aircraft carrier? Shenzhen China of course.

This floating behemoth was purchased from the Soviets by Korea just after the cold war ended, and was then purchased by a businessman in the late 90’s to create an ‘aircraft carrier theme park’ here in Shenzhen.

It’s not cheap to explore, at least by comparison to the major theme parks in the Shenzhen area like OCT East, Happy Valley, Window of the World etc etc but if you’re into this sort of thing then it’s probably worth the visit. The real unfortunate part of the them park is the fact that it’s looks a little neglected, and there is some reports going around that the park is facing some financial difficulties and at the time of writing the park is going up for sale.

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My First Ride in an Electric Taxi (Shenzhen, China)

My First Ride in an Electric Taxi (Shenzhen, China)

Shenzhen is one of China’s more modern cities and it’s a place where there’s a strong focus on clean energy sources and on reducing pollution. It’s also where one of China’s more well known car makers resides, BYD. So what do you get when a bus company, a car company and some government help come together?

A fleet of full electric taxis. They now have 40 full electric cars operating as taxis and plans for 100 this year and 500 or more in the future. The car is the BYD E6 which is a small five door similar in size to a Hyundai Getz. By chance, I caught a ride in one from the metro station to the hotel.

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Shenzhen China to Macau via Ferry

Shenzhen China to Macau via Ferry

There are multiple ways to get from Shenzhen to Macau including via bus, ferry or even a helicopter. Being in Nanshan District of Shenzhen I chose to go via the ferry at the nearby Shekou Port.

Shekou Port is pretty simple, basically, it’s just one big room, and as you walk through the front door head left to see the ticketing counters where there is even staff who thankfully speak English. At the terminal, there is a small stall selling items from a bakery, a couple newsstands and a stand selling mobile phone sim cards for Hong Kong and Macau. There is also 2 different ATMs and the one I tried accepted a foreign-issued Visa card, plus there is a currency exchange.

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What can you get for $4 at a Bakery in Shenzhen, China?

What can you get for $4 at a Bakery in Shenzhen, China?

Lots of tasty things, thats what! Theres a little bakery at the bottom of the Maple Leaf Nanshan hotel which I often visit to grab some lunch, the staff are friendly and the food is tasty. Even better is how amazingly cheap it is!

All this cost about 28RMB (or yuan, if you like) which is about $4.80 Australian or $4US.

So for four bucks, that’s one small milk, one lemon juice, 2 hot dog rolls with cucumber, lettuce and mayonnaise, 2 pork rolls with tomato and cucumber and one pizza slice. In Australia I know that you could get one of the drinks at least!

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Back to Guangzhou for the Canton Fair

Back to Guangzhou for the Canton Fair

After firing off an email to the organisers of the Canton Fair explaining how much I really enjoyed there entry process (see my previous visit to the Canton Fair), I got a fast response via email and an invite to return.

This time I registered for the Canton Fair (also known as The China Import and Export Fair) via there website from where I could print out the invitation, I don’t have a printer so I didn’t bother. Interestingly they promote the online registration service as being a ‘green’ initiative, hmmm, maybe they don’t know where paper comes from…

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Dim Sum Breakfast at Kempinski Hotel Shenzhen

Dim Sum Breakfast at Kempinski Hotel Shenzhen

Kempinski is a European luxury hotel chain and they have a hotel in Nanshan District of Shenzhen, and it’s one of the citys leading 5 star hotels. I haven’t had the pleasure of staying except to say that its in a great spot close to the new Coastal City Shopping Center which features a mix of retail shops, luxury brand retail shopping and many restaurants.

Susan and I went to the Kempinski for its very popular Dim Sum breakfast. DimSum is often referred to as Yum Cha and its a style of cooking that was founded right here in the Guandong Province, I really enjoy this stuff so I couldn’t be in a better place!

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Guangzhou Trade Fairs: International Sourcing Expo

Guangzhou Trade Fairs: International Sourcing Expo

I was actually in Guangzhou to visit the Canton Fair, but ooops, I left my passport at the hotel. For some reason, seemingly unknown to anyone, you actually need to have a passport with a valid visa to gain entry to the Canton Fair, maybe they want to keep the locals out! If so, with red hair, white skin and an Australian accent I should be able to get in, right?

No chance, the front gates are guarded by guards from the PLA, yes, that’s right, Chinese military guards. But maybe that reflects what a big deal the Canton Fair is, this is one of the worlds biggest trade fairs, attracting thousands of buyers from all over the world, and from the worlds leading companies. So considering the times we are in, and the fact that that companies from all over the globe have representatives here, the gaurds are perhaps warranted.

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Guangzhou Metro (subway)

Guangzhou Metro (subway)

Guangzhou has a modern subway system which services a large part of the city. For me, I wanted to get from Ghuangzhou East Railway Station to Pazhou where the Canton Fair complex is. It turned out to be pretty easy, just buy a ticket at the electronic vending machine which accepts coins, 5 yuan notes and 10 yuan notes.

I had to take line 1 to Tiyuxilu and then change to line 3 and then get off at Kecun and change to line 2 whose second last destination is Pazhou. When I walked out of the Pazhou Station I was right in the middle of trade fair city where the Jinhan Fair and Canton Fair Complex were located. The International Sourcing Expo is also nearby.

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Train from Shenzhen to Guangzhuo

Train from Shenzhen to Guangzhuo

I was heading to the trade fairs that are held every year in Guangzhuo, in particular the Canton Fair and lucky for me theres a regular fast train between Shenzhen and Guangzhuo East (Guangzhoudong).

Theres many trains running through the day on this route, about 24 trains a day, from early morning to early night. It takes just over an hour for the trip although some trains take a little longer at over 2 hours, maybe they stop at more stations but I’m not sure.

For my first trip I booked a standard ticket at 75 yuan ($11) and it was a modern comfortable train, it was a D series train if you know your China trains. The only downside is that the seats are a little cosy….

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Catching Up in Shenzhen

Catching Up in Shenzhen

It had been a hectic schedule from the start of my trip back in Kuala Lumpur then to Chengdu and then around some of Chinas great cities and sights, so it was time to take it easy for a while. Plus I was a little keen to spend some time with a new friend, so Shenzhen was a perfect place to settle for a while.

I also needed to catch up on some work, and some writing! When I came back from Hong Kong I settled in at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Nanshan District of Shenzhen. It’s a comfortable place at a great rate which I’m sure I’ll speak more about in a later post. Susan arranged the deal which made things pretty easy for me. It’s also right next door to her apartments, hmmm, how convenient!

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Hong Kong to Shenzhen

Hong Kong to Shenzhen

After leaving the China Sourcing trade fair and I headed back to Mong Kok and picked up my passport with its new visa, then from there to Tsim Sha Tsui to get my bag from the Cosmic Guest House. Then in a taxi over to Hung Hom Station to catch the train to Lo Wu (note its called Lo Wu on the Hong Kong side and Luo hu or Luohu on the Shenzhen side) which is the entry point to China mainland leading into the city of Shenzhen.

This time I purchased a first class ticket, I felt like sitting down during the 30 minute journey to the Lo Wu border! I made just one mistake, by the time I get off the train and through the border crossing formalities, it would be close to 6pm. Just when everyone finishes work!

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Train from Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Train from Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Shenzhen is right next door to Hong Kong which worked out very handy for me as my visa was about to expire. Hong Kong being a Special Administrative Region of China is just like going to another country, so, it’s a popular place to visit and explore, and to then get a new visa if you wish to return to back China.

There are several ways to get to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, including the ferry, but for this trip I chose to go on the train. Apparently this is the most popular way to get across to Hong Kong via the Luo Hu Border.

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Shenzhen Accommodation: The Orient Sunseed Hotel

Shenzhen Accommodation: The Orient Sunseed Hotel

I found and booked this place via the cTrip website and it seemed to be a reasonable compromise between price and comfort at just under 200RMB ($31AUD) and still in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen. I stayed here just before heading over to Hong Kong.

The place isn’t really close to anything, but at the same time it’s not too expensive to get a taxi to anywhere you need to go. If you after reasonable budget accommodation in Nanshan it’s probably worth checking the rates.

The place is starting to show its age but for a budget price it passes ok. The rooms are kept clean, but the carpets in the room I had graced a few stains. Otherwise everything works, the shower is clean, plenty of pressure and hot water and free toiletries included (toothbrush, soap, comb, etc.).

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Shenzhen Electronics Shopping – Huaqiangbei and SEG Electronics Market

Shenzhen Electronics Shopping – Huaqiangbei and SEG Electronics Market

So I’m told if your after electronics or digital products there’s no better place to buy than in Shenzhen, China. This is backed up by the large number of electronics factories in the city, many global brand name products like the Apple iPhone and iPad are copied, I mean made, right here in Shenzhen too.

There are many electronics markets in the city too, but lucky me, Susan being a local took me to the number one  place to go electronics shopping in Shenzhen, if not the whole of China.  It’s the Huaqiangbei electronics market area  ( I think they call it Huaqiangbei Commercial Area) and it’s mind bogglingly big, apparently many gadget lovers and techies have entered this area and never been seen again! Just one of the multi-level electronics mega-stores is enough to blow your mind, but the fact that there’s numerous of them sprawling for block after block is just amazing.

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Shenzhen OCT East – It’s Theme Parks, Resorts, Villages and more

Shenzhen OCT East – It’s Theme Parks, Resorts, Villages and more

Once again China leaves in awe of the scale of some it’s undertakings, people here think big, but I guess they have to! The Shenzen OCT East is is a combination of two large theme parks, resort hotels, three small scenic towns, golf courses and more covering an area of 9 square kilometers. It’s huge. I guess you could call it destination tourism, a man made one stop holiday utopia…

Their intention is clear, they’ve built a one stop destination for a surreal holiday experience. Packed into one big location is the adventure, excitement, wonder, thrills and eye-opening sights matched together with comfort and relaxation.

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Holiday Inn Nanshan, Shenzhen China

Holiday Inn Nanshan, Shenzhen China

The Holiday Inn is an American hotel chain, so, it’s guaranteed that the prices are going to be higher than your run of the mill Chinese hotel. But what do you get for the extra cost?

For a start, the Holiday Inn Donghua in Nanshan District is clean, like, western style clean and has western style service with attention to detail, and all the staff seemed to speak some level of English. Don’t get me wrong, I love roughing it in China, but sometimes the sense of familiarity is comforting.

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Welcome to Shenzhen, China

Welcome to Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen is an interesting city as it is another city that tells a story about the Chinas economic transformation. Shenzhen was not much more than a fishing village until about thirty years ago when a man named Deng Xiaoping had taken the reins as Chinas leader from Mao Zedong in 1978.

Deng Xiaoping had a very different view of macro economics from his predecessor and introduced the concepts of free market theory and capitalism, gathered from his visits to the west, that are the foundation of Chinas current success.

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