I'm here in Zhuhai. It's a bit of a pit-stop, and an absolutely fantastic one at that. It's great to see Linda and John again, after 6 or so years of not having done so. Also fun to meet Audrey. Hilarious to watch her and John verbally abuse one another to no end. It's like watching and listening to little kids fight and argue.
Had no problems arriving in Guangzhou, though I couldn't really form much of an impression of the place. It was a city in China. Nothing special or notable, other than the fact that the road system is reminiscent of Montreal: all above the city on Jettson-ish highways (literal highways, I suppose). The only issue I encountered was having to get an IC phone card there, and realizing I had the wrong number for Linda. So I had to trek about for 20 minutes looking for an internet cafe to get the right number(s) from her email. Finally found one, after asking about five different people and fast-marching with 20 kg of pack in 30-degree weather. (pollution in Guangzhou is horrible) Got the right number and high-tailed it back to the bus station, near the train station.
That was the nicest bus I've ever been on, anywhere. Faux leather seats, seat-belts (!!!), lots of room, flat-screen TVs, AC, and only 4 people on it going to Zhuhai. After the three kilometer internet bar march, I just konked-out for a bit. Once in Zhuhai, I borrowed the cellphone from the guy next to me. Never underestimate a foreigner's ability to shock-and-awe - he was too bambuzzled to say no. Got it all sorted out with Linda and saw her 10 minutes later.
She and John are doing well, and as I said, it's been great to see them and spend time with them, though their incredible hospitality has me a little overwhelmed. I'm a horrible guest, I suppose. I always feel in the way or like I'm putting people out of their way.
Linda and I had a beer in a market just around from the bus station, then headed back to the campus here. I put my stuff across the way in one of the dorms (which was quite spacious even if the beds were made from granite). Then she gave me a tour of the campus itself. Just beautiful here. Very green, and lots of fronds and palm trees this far south. Very green and well-taken-care-of is Zhuhai. Quite beautiful, and far larger than I had expected.
As we went around, tonnes of students were staring. There are only three foreigners here at the school: Linda, John and Chuck. Chuck's in his 70s, so the students weren't used to seeing a foreigner about their age. I got more than my fair share of stares and I felt a little eye-humped. We then went for supper at a great restaurant just here on campus, in a market area. John and I complained about the Canadian consolates's/embassies' unfailing ineptitudes (at least here in China), and we had quite a few beers.
Slept rather well, and today woke up early to get Audrey to the bus station. We went for dim sum (the name for which here I can't remember) and it was great. John headed back home, and Linda and I did some touring around. Mostly the Haibin park and the seaside. I got to climb a tree to help out a Chinese father-and-son duo who'd gotten a toy stuck in a high branch, and then their frisbee as well trying to get the first thing down. I miss tree climbing.
It being hot, I took my shirt off as we walked through the park towards the sea shore. Talk about feeling eye-humped. I felt like some mutant on display. However, I decided not to give a rat's ass since this is the vacation portion of my trip. So I endured the stares and comments they thought I couldn't understand. Prior to that exhibitionism, Linda took a picture of me sitting on a goat statue (there was an area that had all the Chinese animals) and two girls bashfully asked if they could have their pictures taken with me. That's happened all over, and not just teenagers but a lot of elderly people, too: Summer Palace, Bishu Shanzhuang in Chengde, Datong, Chengdu, Lijiang River tour... silly folk.
Then we just came back here, and have been relaxing since. Lovely day out, if a bit humid and hot (~34 with humidity). Going to upload pictures here in a few minutes, so there will be about 100 or so new pictures - ones taken since I left Beijing on the 23rd right up to and including today.
On-the-go edit: 150 or so new pictures up on Flickr. If you have a good connection, use this slideshow link. If you don't, you can check out the China Sojourn set or just go to my main Flickr page. Lots of goodies in there: Xi'an, Hua Shan, people met, pandas, Leshan, lots of fun new signs from all over China, markets, blah blah blah.