Police Stations and Classrooms: Guangzhou, China

I wake up this morning with a sense of dread…..what will happen with our Chinese Visa today?

Our second day in China starts with a Cantonese style breakfast. Lilac ordered for us, since of course we had no idea what to get. We tried to order Froot Loops or other such nutritious sugar coated cereal, but I don’t think they make it in China. They make everything else here, but I don’t suppose they found the recipe for Froot Loops yet……

This is called rice porridge, and has everything but the kitchen sink in it. Pretty good! Seriously….green onions, shrimp, peanuts, crullers….just to name a few…..

Bjorn has decided to be adventurous on this trip. Normally he is super picky about his food,but is going to try everything on this trip. This is a rice noodle dish.

  Lilac looking pretty to start the day. 

 Well, how was breakfast, guys?
Straight away after breakfast we make our way to the police station to register our whereabouts. Lilac explains to them the reason we are there. You may remember from my earlier post that when you get the free 72 hour transit visa for China there is a stipulation that within 24 hours you have to go with your host/hostess to the local police station to register where you are staying. And we are now well past our 24 hour window, since the police station was closed yesterday when we finally got there.

My stomach hurts and I feel a bit anxious as I listen to the exchange ensuing before me. I can’t understand a word, and when I ask Lilac to tell me what’s going on she keeps brushing me off. “Not your problem”, she says.

Well, it really is my problem, actually. My anxiety heightens as the voices get louder. Soon Lilac and the police are literally yelling at one another. We sit stonefaced on the hard seats. We try to appear nonchalant. After what seems about an hour of hollering at one another, Lilac finally tells us that they want us to come back at 2:30 pm. And so we depart hopeful that things will work out better in the afternoon

We didn’t have enough time to get too far away, so we went to a great little coffee shop a couple doors down.

We had some pizza at some point, too. Had to break down and get some western food….didn’t take long! The pizza was awesome, but the interesting thing is that you are supposed to use these plastic food service gloves when you eat pizza……

 I am not sure if I told you, but when Lilac went back to China after spending a year at our house, she started English language schools in Guangzhou. She now has four of them! Incidentally, if anyone is interested in spending some time in China, Lilac is looking to hire native English speakers. Since we had some more time to kill we went to one of her schools.

This one is located in an apartment in a high rise housing complex, one of literally thousands in this massive city! The kids are excited, albeit a bit nervous when we show up with our crew.

 As you might have suspected, computer games are a big hit in Guangzhou as well, and these two students latched onto Bjorn right away and they started playing a game on an iPhone. These kids are not Chinese, as you might suspect. Many of Lilac’s students are foreigners.
And Lilac’s mom is the school cook. She makes the best noodles in Guangdong Province, from what I hear. Kristoff asks if we can take her along for the rest of the trip to be our cook.

Lilac’s mom is happy that we love her food. Notice the kitchen door. It seems like all the apartments have these separated kitchens with doors, and no air conditioning.
Lilac tells us to take a nap, and so like good school children we listen to her.

At 2:30 we go back to the police station. There is another man there when we arrive. It seems like Lilac knows him and he is there to support our cause. The conversation with the police officials begins in a friendly enough manner, but soon the voices escalate. Louder and louder they go.

I ask Lilac what’s happening and she refuses to tell me. Soon the man who seemed to be Lilac’s friend in the beginning is yelling at her. I can tell that he is trying to tell her that we need to get registered. Finally Lilac tells me that the officials say the only way we can get registered is if we check into a hotel.

In the meantime I called the U.S. Embassy. The official there told me that we should go to the airport and wait until our flight leaves, or risk potential detainment. I had the embassy official talk with the police to figure out what was going on. So the embassy official told me to just check into a hotel and the hotel would register us.

Apparently the address we used was the location of her school, and it’s a business and not a hotel, so her landlord would have to pay some exorbitant taxes for us to stay there. Now we figured out that this other man was Lilac’s landlord. He was so upset by now that he stormed out after exchanging harsh sounding words with Lilac.

Shortly thereafter we left from the police station after thanking them for their help.

Lilac kept insisting that we did not need to check into a hotel, but we told her we really wanted to, and so she brought us to this super dingy looking hotel. We got two room for $60. We did check out the rooms and they were quite nice despite the horrendous condition of the lobby and outside.

What a relief! The woman at the desk scanned our passports into her system and we were all officially registered! We had literally spent the entire day with this fight at the police station!

We hopped onto the metro and made a long ride to the other side of this ginormous city to go see the circus. We pretty much made a circus ourselves as we rushed from one train to another. We got there a bit late, but they let us in anyway.

I don’t know if you have ever seen anything like this, but what happens here is two acrobats jump on the seesaw and send the third man flying up into this very high seat!


And I don’t know , since I don’t typically go to the circus, if using animals in this fashion in circus acts is still allowed in the U.S.

 Well, it was all in good fun even though we felt sorry for the animals as every good  hearted American animal rights activist would. Even still it was not fun on my pocket book. If I could do it again I would have skipped the circus.  As it is, it is late when it’s over.  We still need to go to Lilac’s sister’s place, pack our bags and go to the hotel. But this never materializes……we get back at nearly midnight and are far too tired…..we simply go to sleep in our beds as we did the two nights prior…..rules, or no rules……which leaves me wondering how closely we are monitored….
On our third and final day in Guangzhou, and after a hefty Chinese breakfast, Lilac called up an Uber van and we went to this interesting Cultural Park.  It was way across the city, and we were really amazed at how huge this city is, and all the construction, and the nice cars, and the skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. It definitely is very apparent that there is a lot of money in this city. I kept wondering how earthquake resistant the structures are, don’t ask me why. There are cleaning people everywhere. The metros are sparkling. Every person is clean and well dressed and they all have the latest Samsung or iPhone in their hands.  Things aren’t cheap in this city either. A cappuccino is about $4 in most places. But I digress, and at long last we arrive at the cultural park.

Replica of an old city 
Who’s that behind the girls with the swords?

 These girls wanted their photo taken with Aundrea.
  King and queen for the day. This is a traditional wedding decor for the bride’s home on her wedding day. 

 This contraption is for a bride.
This is a traditional room for the newly weds  

 Everyone is covered with sweat…..
Pretty window  

 If you want to buy something at this cafe you have to remove the bamboo lids
Mr Handsome sweatin’ it well  

Lilac ordered some delicious lunch and treats. We never would have known what to order!
 Sharing food the Chinese way   
   Oh, oh….. Looks like David got detained anyway! 

 Rope bridge
While we waited for our Uber driver to take us back to Lilac’s place the kids found a twine like long branch that had fallen from a tree. It made a great skipping rope!
 David even joins the fun  
 Soon enough it is time to leave to the airport for our 10:00 pm flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. So we grab our bags and run….thanks Lilac…..thanks everyone! We are very impressed with China and definitely want to go back again! Do you think they will let me back? I can’t leave without a shot of people in the metro with their fancy phones. Every single person has their faces buried in the smart phones on the metro.
Miraculously enough we breeze through security and customs at the airport. In the end I think Lilac was right…..we probably did not need to register and go through all that fuss……I am sorry to have troubled her.  

We hop onto our late evening flight to Hanoi on China Southern Airlines. They are amazing. In a short 1.5 hour flight they serve a full meal. The boys fall sound asleep and the only way we can wake them is to say the word “coke”!

 Before we know it we are in Vietnam. I hear it’s a pretty wild place……I wonder what adventures await…..


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