MY NEW HOME IN GUANGZHOU
I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t written almost anything the last month, for all of you who want to follow my adventure you can trust my Instagram (@jwinbom). I will upload pictures way more frequently on my Instagram, but as everything seems to fall into place I guess I will have more time for the blog.
The first month in Guangzhou has passed so quickly, I can’t even understand it. Although it seems like I just arrived in this city, a lot of things has happened. I have an apartment, I have started to study and made a lot of new friends. China is starting to feel like home. I have even signed up for a gym and after a couple of classes I already have some local friends there. Feels really good to have friends outside the exchange student community as well. I’m also so thankful for my group of amazing Chinese study buddies. Patrick, William and Jasmine are my angels. They will help me whenever I need it. Like the yesterday when I went to the pharmacy because I have a cold. With some simple English words and a lot of body language its not always so easy to get what you want. At least I could send pictures of everything when I came home and they could tell me what everything actually was. Now I know the area where I live pretty well and I'm also able to get around the city with the metro. We eat at restaurants most of the time since it's the cheapest opinion. We have several really good Dim Sum restaurants in our block but you can never really be sure what you order. Every meal is an adventure, slowly we pick up some words and gain experience. The bad experiences is clearly outnumbered by the good ones in the end and I am so happy to be able to get to know a totally new food culture.
I have just finished all my homework for the coming week after the holiday and tonight we are going to catch a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. My flat mate Johannes is already there because his girlfriend is doing her exchange semester there so we plant to meet up with them after a couple of days in Bangkok. I’m so excited, its been five years since I went to Bangkok and its going to be so much fun to se what has happened to the city since last time! I hope this cold disappear really fast now, Alejandro is currently making a super spicy lunch to scare away the viruses. I really want to be able to enjoy some Thai massage and have energy to be out in the city all day long. Hoping for the best!
HONG KONG HEAT
Since the weather is going to change to thunderstorms I didn’t want to waste the second sunny day and the chance to hang out by the amazing rooftop pool at the hotel. So that’s what I did. But first I enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel as well. Pancakes, fruit, omelets, spring rolls, toast, yes my apatite had come back aging after a day of stomach ache.
I spent all morning by the pool but by lunch I decided it was enough, and I went to Causeway Bay in the east part of HK. Finally there I thought to myself if I was a idiot who wanted to walk around in the crowded streets a hot day as this. Ironically one of the first shops I see is IKEA. Surprised to se an IKEA in the middle of a city and just because it is IKEA of course I had to check it out. It was the smallest and most crowded IKEA I’ve ever visited, and I felt so nostalgic when I came to the food store in the end. But I didn’t buy anything because I don’t really miss any Swedish things, yet. After the short visit at IKEA I went to Victoria Park. To be honest, it was not too much to see except for the fun part of watching people.
I new the yacht club was supposed to be quite close to the park, so I walked to the harbor, but they were building a lot down there so I ended up on quite narrow passages and quite suspect roads, when I finally saw a sight about the yacht club I was so hot and tired I just wanted to find my way out of this mess and find a nice café for a cold drink.
Next on my list was the exhibition center, which is HK’s answer to the Sydney Opera house if we talk in terms of architecture. To be able to get there I walked on a road that only had interior design shops. Kitchen shops, bathroom shops, light shops, flooring shops and so on. Its quite funny because I’ve realized that HK is quite often organized so the same kind of shops are at the same place. When I finally reached the exhibition center I was quite disappointed about the architecture but I found a great art exhibition.
Now I’m back at the hotel and I can certainly see that I have been out in the sun, I’m close to a tomato… Next time I need to put on double sunscreen.
SUN IN HONG KONG
Another great day to tell you about. First of all, it was the first day of sun in HK. Finally! I got so happy so I had to go up to the top floor and see the pool area for the first time. It is amazing! But I was so hungry I had to find something to eat and then I went out in the city. I had arranged a meeting with my father’s college at the stock exchange and decided to try the metro for the first time. I’m amazed how clean and fresh it is, and it was not too complicated to understand how to buy tickets and so on. Now I think I will go with the metro a lot more and not risk my life walking in some streets…
It was very easy to find the building and I couldn’t help but notice that the clothing store to the left was incredible nice, although quite expensive. The lobby was exclusive and the people in the entrance super helpful. I got to the right floor and my fathers college greeted me in the entrance. So fun to see him and he gave me a little tour and talked about what was going on at the moment. I also got to say hi to another swede working there, all of them told me it was obvious I was Håkans daughter. Everyone was so friendly and gave me some advices for my journey.
After the visit I went to some stores and coincidently I bumped into Marla who also was a little early in the city. We had decided to all meet up and go together to the island of Lantau. Marla and I had a fabulous lunch at the Landmark Galleria and for desert we bought some macaroons from Ladurée. But the mission of today was to go to visit the Big Buddha of Lantau. So we met up Lauréne and Kelly and took the metro to the island. At the island we were able to take a cable car up in the mountain. The view was breathtaking and it was obviously a very good choice instead of taking a bus. (It also got me thinking a lot of skiing…) When we finally came up to the top we walked a lot of stairs to finally reach the main attraction, the Big Buddha. We also visited the monastery Po Lin with the thousand golden Buddha’s. It was a little touristy, but I would definitely recommend going here. The nature and views over the islands around HK was amazing and it felt good to see something else than crowded streets and skyscrapers. By the time we got down from the top, we were really tired and took the metro home to central. When we were finally there we were also very hungry and decided to take the first restaurant possible, and we ended up at a pretty decent Italian place for some pasta and red wine. All in all, a very good day!
DR. SUN YAT SEN & MACAO
So after a lovely night out with the girls last night, I slept in for quite a while. Missed the hotel breakfast so I went out in the street to see what I could find. Luckily enough I found a bakery not to far away from the hotel. They had a lot to choose from but I left with mango pancakes and a coconut bread, both were delicious! Whiteout really having a plan, I strolled down to the harbor. Just by the river bank they have a memorial park of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the revolutionary person who is a little bit of the reason why I’m going to GZ. I’m going to study at his university. It was a very pretty spot and families were playing around in the grass around the big statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. I was thinking by myself, wondering why all of these people were out in the park playing on a Thursday.
I walked by the bank, until I arrived at the Ferry terminal for boats to Macao. I thought for myself, why not? And jumped on the next ferry. It took one hour and it was freezing cold because of the air conditioners. In Macao I could just walk from the terminal into the city. It resembles Las Vegas quite a lot, and looks quite dull in the bright light of day. Although the colonial buildings from the Portuguese era looked very pretty in their bright colors. When I finally got into the city center that’s when I understood it was a public holiday for the Chinese people. A lot of smaller shops were closed and some blocks were all empty of people but when I came into the touristy parts it was totally crowded. People everywhere! After fighting myself through some tight alleys of people I needed a break and found a little Starbucks. It felt silly, but sometimes you just need something familiar and peace. So with a cup of chai latte in my hand I could sit down and relax a little bit.
After the little break I had some new energy and went out in the town again, now the darkness had fallen and the city looked a lot more fancy. Thousands of Chinese people were now accompanied by thousand of led lights. It was like a circus. Fun to see, but felt quite done with Macao and all the people so I decided to go home again. Back at the ferry terminal, the economy class tickets were sold out until 23:00. So if I didn’t want to wait for 3 hours, I had to pay a premium price ticket. This was of course due to the fact that the place was packed with Chinese people on public holiday… It was not a hard decision to make, I paid the double price for a ticket and got to board a ship within 30 min. During the boarding procedure two Dutch guys approached me telling me I looked so confused. They seemed quite nice in the beginning telling me a lot about HK and so on, but when I told them I was going to GZ to study they begun talking a lot of shit about the place and bragged about their fancy banking jobs in HK. Hopefully it wont be as bad as they say, but I cant help but wonder…
FIRST DAY IN HONG KONG
IM FINALLY IN HONG KONG!
The journey to Hongkong was definitely long. The first flight to Doha and I didn't came a long as friends. Although the plane was a brand new Dreamliner and the food was pretty good as well as the entertainment system. I watched the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon, thought it resembled myself somehow. Heard a lot of good things about this movie but it didn't live up to my expectations. Didn't sleep well, maybe a couple of hours and woke up with a tremendous pain in my neck.
SUN YAT-SEN UNIVERSITY
Time for a little update about the preparations. I have finally booked hotels in both HK and GZ. This feels so good since it has been something that kept nagging in my mind. First of I booked the hotel in GZ. We are a bunch of students who already got in touch with each other and we decided on a hotel really close to the university for the first week. Hopefully we will manage to find a shared apartment during that time. Feels great that we will all be living in the same place in the beginning so we can hang out and get to know each other.
But before heading into the mainland of China, I will do my own little trip to HK. A little bit of acclimatization before the real adventure can begin. But boy was it hard to find a decent hotel in that city?! I have been searching a lot the last couple of days, and I can tell you there is a lot of hotels to choose from. Although I have never in my life seen so small hotel rooms before. Seems like they could pretty much charge anything for these cubes. When I finally new a little bit more about what and where, I started to read the recommendations, and that’s when I panicked. Ants, cockroaches, dirt, unsafe areas, broken things, un service minded people… well all of a sudden I realised that I had to pay almost the double price in HK to get something clean and safe. I surrendered and booked a hotel my good friend Niklas recommended a couple of weeks ago. It is a well known hotel chain and it is located pretty close to the centre of HK. Could not be better, hopefully.
First picture is from the HK hotel and the second one from GZ, but i guess they have photoshopped them both a lot..
SHIT IS HAPPENING
So because I have ants in my pants and the prices are just getting higher and higher, I finally booked the ticket. The ticket to China. So excited. My welcome package from the university has not yet arrived, but I might as well book the ticket anyway. Decided to go with Cathy Pacific Airways since they have their major hub in Hongkong and they seem to have pretty good reviews. The journey will take 17h and I need to change plane in Doha, another country I've not yet been to... Well now that is done and that is actually a relief. Time to start preparing!