This trip happened in the year 2000, whatever photos that I have is in my scrapbook, and whatever I write is based on what I remember. You have to know that in the year 2000, we were still using film camera to snap photos. This means every snap is very precious and we can’t snap 100 shots to get the perfect angle / disposition / lighting / whatnot. And we tend to miss many candid moments.
This trip was organized by the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Cantonese Association 雪隆广东会馆, which my father is a member. Every year, the association will have an annual dinner, whereby one of the events was distributing monetary awards to the children of members who excel in their studies. That year, the association decided to organize a student trip to Guangzhou for the outstanding students who receive the awards multiple times. I remember I was a recipient of that award for every consecutive years, from Primary 1 up till Secondary 3, so I qualified to join. If my memory serves me right, it was a damn good deal, my dad had to pay half of the air fare, the association will cover the other half, as well as all our expenses while in Guangzhou.
So, day 1, we arrived in Guangzhou 广州, via the Bai Yun International Airport 白云国际机场. I remember it was morning, so instead of checking in to our hotel, we were immediately whisked off for some sightseeing.
Guangzhou is also called the City of Five Goats 五羊城. Apparently there was some legend going on about how in the ancient times, there was a terrible drought in Guangzhou, and five angels descended while riding goats to bless the city. Or something like that. Hence the name.
I didn’t (and still don’t) know why we were brought to this place. Apparently the Chen clan is the biggest or most famous clan in the world or what, they even have a Malaysian version in KL if I am not mistaken.
This building is house to Guangzhou Museum 广州博物馆. I don’t remember if we did enter the museum or not. I think we did, but I don’t have any photos of the interior. I don’t understand why this building is named as such. If we do a literal translation, 镇海楼 means, the Ocean Suppressing Tower? Problem is, this is Guangzhou, we were nowhere near the ocean!
This was where we had our first lunch in Guangzhou. According to our host, this restaurant is very old. It was founded during the late Qing Dynasty era 清朝末期. They used to serve only the aristocrats and elites and specialized in the Man-Han Banquet 满汉全席, but more recently has adopted a more public-friendly approach.
Did I mention that the trip was some sort of a student exchange program? Well, for 3 days, we were “enrolled” to the Teachers School of Jinan University 暨南大学师范学院. This university is supposed to be one of the oldest university in China, with its existence again dating back to the Qing Dynasty. It was founded in Nanjing, and moved a few times until finally settled in Guangzhou. According to the dean, it is the most prestigious university that returning overseas Chinese aspire to enter in the country. Awesome.
So what did we study for the 3 days? Nope, not Mandarin, not China history, not China culture… we studied English. Yes, English! I know it sounds bizarre, but we did study advanced English with university students instead of with our secondary school counterparts. To be honest, I can’t really remember what we studied…
Then there’s shopping. Lots of them. We had 2 evenings to roam around the shopping districts. One day we went to Tianhe Shopping Mall 天河购物中心 and Tianhe Book Mall 天河购书中心, the other day we went to Beijing Road 北京路.
Did I mention earlier that we were using film cameras? Back then every snap was precious and we cannot be wasteful. And back then there was no Facebook. There was no reason for us to snap photos of us shopping. So no photos.
Some of the shopping stuff that I remember:
- I learned the correct way of eating xiao long bao 小笼包 in Tianhe Shopping Mall’s food court. You see, we always thought the proper way to eat xiao long bao was to bite into the skin and suck the soup dry first, like how vampires bite into humans and suck the blood dry. None of the Guangzhou people did that. They placed the xiao long bao onto the spoon, break it and let the soup flow onto the spoon, then drink the soup, then eat the xiao long bao.
- I bought a cold weather jacket from the Giordano outlet on Beijing Road for RMB 29 (RM 15 / US$ 4.50). Not fake Giordano, original Giordano, from the outlet. That jacket had remained faithful with me for 7 years and even followed me to the UK in 2007. I had to discard it when coming back from Liverpool though, because my luggage was overweight 🙁 .
- I remember someone bought a whole box of pirated CDs for RMB 40 (RM 20 / US$ 6). Can’t remember is was a box of 50 or 100 CDs. But who cares? That’s still dirt cheap, isn’t it?
So yeah, that’s my Guangzhou experience… Coming up next will be the neighboring cities that we visited…