Sick Building??? Just a word of caution for you who are thinking of staying at the White Swan. Of the families that I have know who stayed there, at least 1/3 of them got very sick during their visit. The symptoms are dizziness, nauseau, and a sense of 'other worldliness' that can't really be put into words. It was like a bad drug reaction and left me unable to even write. My friend was so dizzy she could hardly walk. This has happened with many people travelling at different times, so it isn't something that anyone caught from anyone else. I don't know what it is at the Swan that causes this reaction, but it is so prevelant that I thought it was worth a mention.
One problem about living in Guangzhou or any city in China is that many Chinese no little or nothing about Western life and habits (I'm from Melbourne, Australia). In short, the Chinese are obsessed with food and meal times. They will often be shocked to hear that you haven't had dinner at 8:00 pm at night. They will be equally suprised to learn that you don't eat steamed rice with all of your meals.
Almost every Chinese I come across thinks that the Australian, American or British diet consists only of sandwiches, hamburgers or a slab steak. I find myself continually being asked whether or not I eat and am accustomed to eating Chinese food. I explain that I like Chinese cuisine, but do not eat it every day I spend here (I've lived in China over three years). Chuck agrees with me.
Just becareful When you across the streets. And please don't go to Guangzhou in Apirl, if you just to visit Guangzhou, because there will be a very market meeting during that Apirl and another days around fall. You can not find a hotel.
Don't go to the CITS if you need any information!
If you are near the train station, you better go to the 'information office for travellers' (or something like that) on the street that goes west from it, between the bus stations. Attention! there are at least three bus stations: one on a corner, crossing the avenue from the train station, and the other two just a couple of blocks to the west, facing each other.
If you're a foreigner and don't speak the language well, make sure you go in a group if you ever take a cab from the Guangzhou airport (or anywhere in Guangzhou for that matter). A lot of these guys are out to take advantage of foreigners whenever they can. So try to stay in a group of 3 if you can. They usually don't dare to try anything when you're in a bigger group. I've even heard of horror stories of people getting kidnapped and had their organs taken (Yes, organs as in kidneys, heart, etc). This is extremely rare but its always better to be safe than sorry.
Be warned to those coming to Guangzhou on April 15 till May 5 each year, the reason is the yearly trading fair & meeting in the city of Guangzhou during these time of year. It is believe (according to what local peoples told me) with an estimate 10000+ of representatives and traders coming from all directions to gather at Guangzhou and therefore hotel prices gone up by 200 – 300% during these period. Budget hotels too grab this golden opportunity to increase their price.
Also be warned that the temperature of May is crazy hot at an average of 30+ celsius, you will be sweat like rain only after 30 minutes of walk on the street, the wind too is hot like hair dryer. The best way of waering is sleeveless singlet and short pants with a pair of sporty shoes, with or without underwear is up to you.
Even taking a city bus or a Metro is a big torture during this period because you will have to fight for a place at anytime.
Photos uploaded are the low budget hotel (deep inside a residential district, far away from city center) that I stayed during May, the price increased up to 168 Yuan for a single room, normal price is 80 Yuan.
Cheater liquor stores abound. They would sell you liquor but many turn out fake. Real bottles but fake contents. Clerks even pulled a trick on me by showing me a bottle of maotai that broke when i lifted it up. Obviously the bottle was defective from the beginning but the clerk demanded that i pay for the liquor which she pegged at RMB 10,000. Outrageous!!!! So be careful about different liquor scams such as these....better buy your liquor at big supermarkets to be safe
The tour guide will take you to shopping stops, beware of the jewelry shops, looked like a scam to me. The same trick: always the boss will come to entertain guess, give a ridiculos price discount, a few thousand price tag jade/jewelry offered at Rm100-200 as a friendship gesture.
Beware of Kanghui Travel agency, we signed up a day tour Gaungzhou city tour with them , paid over Rmb200 per person, the tour bus was was really old and no air-conditioner, we almost suffocate throughout the journey. The jewelry shop male attendants looked like gansters, very fierce and threatening when we refused to buy anything.
Say no to children who want to sell you a flower. If they persist tell them you will call
the police; that works.
To avoid pick pockets, I carry a small amount of cash and a credit card in a thin two fold wallet in my front pocket. ( a water proof wallet that can be found in a sporting goods store)
Other than that the locals are warm and friendly.
The city is surrounded by water and in some places there is no fence or barrier between the road and the water, so watch your step.
In Shantou, you can see motorbikes everywhere. It is the most common traffic so to say. Be careful when you cross the road. Look out and not to be knocked.