A bakery..Woohoo! Yes, that was my reaction when I finally found a possible food on my third day in Guangzhou.
Those 4 days I passed in China’s third largest city was a totally new experience. No, actually, it was a shocking one, however, I have to say that the Chinese business partners I dealt with were one of the best in my career, not only on the professional level, but also to a great extent on the personal level.
Arriving to Guangzhou
That was almost 8 hours flight departing from Dubai on Emirates Airbus A380. It was actually my first time to fly on such a huge two floor plane. I am a Muslim and I could even pray normally on this very spacious airplane.
Once I reached Guangzhou airport, I have been welcomed by many brokers for money exchange and taxis, they are literally too many and you need to both be aware and have a high level of bargaining tolerance as they will initially try to get as much as they can from you.
Long story short, I took a taxi to the destination and here the fun started!
My stay was in Li Yang Hotel, a three stars hotel initially booked by my business partners. On my arrival, it was empty, no clients, yet it took me around 30 minutes to check-in. Guess why!?
That was actually my first time to know the real value of Google translation. In the reception they don’t speak English! Yes, they don’t. And it was hilarious when I called them after check-in asking for matches. They sent me the TV engineer!
Generally speaking, English is a very scarce asset in Guangzhou, you need to expect that groceries, super markets, small hotels and local shops don’t have neither English speakers nor signs. If necessary, it is the best if you can hire a local guide or stay in an international hotel.
And that was the second reason it took me so long to check in. Actually, my Visa Card that I have been using in more than 10 different countries was not accepted. I tried more than a card but it didn’t work, so I had to find an ATM and withdraw cash to use for the payment.
I have to highlight also that the country is relatively expensive, it is even more expensive than Dubai! 1 KG banana costed a range of 1.5-2 USD.
And here we come to the biggest deal! The problem is not only that Chinese have a totally different eating culture, it is also that the sellers don’t speak English and the packaging is almost all in Chinese language.
I thought to buy milk and fruits. The package has a cow on it and it is sure milk as any one we drink anywhere in the world. The surprise was that it was not, and till this moment I don’t know what is the nature of what I drank in this package!
I could only survive with the hotel breakfast, one boiled egg and banana. I even didn’t find a normal bread, it is always a mix of something. And finally on the third day after walking for 2 kms I found this with bakery as in the main photo and how amazing it was to see it written in English!
My only real meal in those four days was after signing the contract when my business partners invited me to a seafood restaurant, finally I could eat normal Guangzhou food. Oh yes! How I was craving for such a meal. It was actually a fancy restaurant, yet it still can’t be free from a little Chinese surprise.
I sure didn’t know what to choose, because neither the menu nor the waiter knew English, However my business partner helped with her little English. The surprise was the question “ How would you like to kill the fish?” Oh guys! Why me…, I just said whatever you see fine. The result was that they brought a boiling soup on our table and threw the fish alive in it!
And you can actually expect my other challenge with the Chinese sticks, it was a hard meal, but well deserved.
A Trip to Remember
Everything in Guangzhou is so different than what you can expect as common in big cities. What’s app & Facebook are blocked in China, so you have to use a proxy to access any of your social media accounts. My experience with Chinese people is not vast but I can say that my business partners Ada and John are really one of the best in my field. I can say also they are good friends.
Traveling to China is challenging yet it could be a big Joy if you return back with a big fish. My advise for everyone going to Guangzhou is to make sure you have the essential tools to survive without going through what I mentioned :).