Day One in Guangzhou
I didn't realize how much I missed Western food until this morning. We're staying at the White Swan hotel, a beautiful five star hotel that smells normal (the hotel in Nanchang smelled off to our Western noses). A breakfast buffet is included in our room charge. We had a breakfast buffet in Nanchang as well, but it was always a challenge to find anything appetizing to eat. There were intestines, stewed fish, "preserved" hard boiled eggs (eggs that were 4 months old), rice, noodles, mustard buns, and various other concoctions that just didn't appeal to me. Today, I recognized almost everything on the buffet and it tasted GREAT. I felt revived as I ate crisp bacon, an omelet that wasn't drenched in soy sauce like the one in Nanchang, French toast made the way I would make it, and real orange juice (the juice in Nanchang tasted like weak Tang).
I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about the food in Nanchang. It was plentiful. And it was appealing to most of the hotel's clientele. It just wasn't appealing to me. :)
I felt like I could conquer anything with a decent breakfast under my belt. The only exception to that attitude is the bed we sleep on. The Chinese feel strongly that a firm bed is best for the back. I agree. The problem here at the White Swan is that my definition of firm is "somewhat unyielding" and their definition of firm is "feels like a slab of concrete."
I do not exaggerate.
When we first walked into the room, I plopped down on the bed, expecting it to give like a normal bed. Instead, it was like plopping onto a park bench. My spine did not thank me for the experience. I tried to sleep well, but eventually ran out of comfortable positions and got up seriously early instead.
We spent the day wandering around the shops in the White Swan area. I was delighted to discover a Starbucks! Never has a mocha frapp tasted so good. Clint, who doesn't like coffee, got a chocolate frapp and let Johanna have a sip. No sooner did he take the cup away and place it on the table, but she was literally trying to climb her way out of her stroller so she could steal the rest of his drink. We may have a little chocolate addict on our hands already. My mother will be so proud.
We purchased a few souvenirs for the boys, and then bought Johanna a pair of squeaky shoes, a tradition here in China for making the children interested in learning how to walk, and then purchased several traditional Chinese dresses for her in her current size and several sizes above. The rest of the day was devoted to playing with her until dinner. Our group had dinner together at a local Thai place. Dining out in Guangzhou is interesting because you don't tip the waiters. The tip is already added to the bill and the service definitely reflects that. The servers barely pay attention to you and the food comes out as it's ready. Regardless of whether the rest of the table's food is ready. Which means the meals slowly trickle to the table and the last person might get their meal after the first couple of people are already done eating. It's strange to us, but we just roll with whatever we find here.
We took pictures of Johanna (of course!) playing around, and wearing the skirt from one of her new traditional dresses. Be prepared to die from the Cute.