So this is part of the back dated posts from when the boys came to visit. It was quite a week, I managed to visit two new countries out of Hong Kong – each on a day trip. This is actually what moving here was all about for me, visiting new places and having new experiences – not just to be Joe’s lap lady, ew, that sounds a bit wrong but lap dog is just as bad… Okay, housewife!
This was our first visit to China proper, for everyone on the group visa that day. The day didn’t start too well when we almost left the house without the visa. I’m holding my hands up, that was totally me. I am a pretty organised person, especially in work but out of work day to day plans and decision making seem to put me into panic overdrive, like what I should make for dinner (evidence to suggest I wasn’t born to be a housewife?).
Anyway, we took the train there – which only takes a couple of hours. It’s so strange after taking a train going through full airport immigration and passport checks. I nearly landed myself into further trouble once we got there, because I wasn’t behind the yellow line at check in – slight oversight on my part thinking that if we were all traveling on a group visa they’d want to see us all together. I sure got ticked off for that but I made it in nonetheless.
The weather was pretty terrible once again so we decided to firstly stop off at The Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. The museum was quite big and as we were a bit pushed for time we whizzed past the supporting exhibits and headed the main event – the tomb itself. It was quite a strange once actually, I’ve never ventured into an old tomb like that before, it dates around 500BC, and I was very surprised that visitors were allowed to walk in, normally with ancient structures it is cornered off, like the Parthenon. The ceilings were really low and there were a lot of people around which made me feel pretty claustrophobic. The Second Nanyue King, Zhao Mo, was buried with a number of human and animal sacrifices, and alongside his concubines. Some of which the remains, well burnt-out and unidentifiable ashes, were visible in glass cabinets. – a tad undignified I must say. I can’t even begin to imagine knowing that the remains of my ashes, mixed in with that of sheep, would be on display at a museum 2000 years down the line… I must say though that Zhao Mo’s jade burial suit, made up of almost 3,000 patches of jade, was pretty impressive. Well sir, upon my death I would just love to be bound with jade. As if I could afford that! But seriously it was thought to preserve the body hence the popularity. All in all, a good museum to visit, especially for less than a quid – bargain.
On our way to our next destination we managed to catch the end of a gig in a local shopping mall. It is a band I haven’t heard of but they are meant to be pretty massive on the K-pop scene – Lovely Pretty Girl. And the crowd were loving it too, so we stopped for a brief bop before heading onwards.
Next up we decided to check out Shamien Island, an area conceded to England and France in the nineteenth century by Qing. To be honest, I didn’t even really know where we were going; I just followed the boys’ lead because they said they wanted to visit. So I really wasn’t expecting to walk into an area that was a typical of a colonial settlement, grand classical buildings on tree lined boulevards – a total contrast to anything you expect of Chinese culture. The area was full of very nice sculptures too, but again they felt very British – I’ve included a classical comedy pic below…
We also discovered possibly the nicest, most classy Starbucks I have ever seen in my life. If they were all like that perhaps I wouldn’t be so sniffy about having my coffee there. It was a real spectacle to see, and it felt quite odd because it all seemed so quiet and peaceful in comparison to the crazy Chinese streets that sat on the other side of the river. Apparently the island was used as a base for the colonialists to import their opium to sell onto the locals. That is, until we got out mitts onto Hong Kong… Nice one Britain, invaders and exploiters of the world.
We did visit the most amazing vegetarian restaurant on the edge of the island, called Shangshizhai. Every dish was veggie and organic, despite having meat dishes on the menu (it was all substitute for the prawns, beef etc). I’d say that most f the dishes were Thai in style, and seriously tasty. I’d go back there just for that and my Starbucks…
But seriously I would like to return and have a bit more of a Chinese experience – yet again I felt that I’d taken the ‘diet’ Asia route. Hoping to plan a weekend to Beijing soon. I’d say the thing we did that was most synonymous with Chinese culture was stop for some street food and a bao!
*Some photo credits to Mister Carl Jones – his are so much better than mine you’ll just know.