My one full day in Guangzhou was dedicated to two things: exploring and getting a bus ticket out of the city.
The bus ticket was the difficult part as Guangzhou has something along the lines of 5 bus terminals, 4 of which are right next to each other! After navigating my way through three of them, I found what appeared to be the sanest one and made my way to the information booth.
I told the woman where I wanted to go and she showed me the departure times on the screen. All were overnight buses, so I chose the latest departure–11:30pm. I was given a slip with my desired bus and destination written on it and went to buy my ticket, which cost RMB180 (about US$26).
From the bus station, I took a walk down to the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, which housed the remains of Zhao Mo, the second king of the Nanyue Kingdom which briefly existed over 2,000 years ago, with Guangzhou as its capital. The Kingdom was established in 214 BC and was eventually plundered by the Han in 111 BC .
The tomb was discovered when builders were laying foundations for an apartment complex in the 1980s. Now, a museum houses the relics from the tomb, while the actual mausoleum is available for exploring.
Zhao Mo was buried much in the way of Egyptian Pharaohs, with everything that would be necessary for a successful afterlife. Mummification was not practiced, but the body was instead covered in pieces of jade (which did not preserve the body at all). Along with the King and his accouterments, at least a dozen sacrificial servants were entombed, including, oddly enough, several eunuchs.
The site also included an ancient lookout tower with cannons, though it was unclear if the tower dated back as far (probably not, as I don’t think cannons are 2,000 years old!)
After the museum, I partook in my absolute favorite way to pass the time…wandering. It was then that Guangzhou’s real character began to show, particular when peeking down back alleys.
Along the way, I encountered the first Buddhist temple that I’ve seen the entire time I’ve been in Asia thus far. It was oriented quite differently from its Thai counterpart (which makes sense, as its a different sect of Buddhism…here Buddha is also represented with a big belly).
I also encountered another thriving (and very bright) shopping street, which was situated directly above an old road and City Gate, parts of which were visible under the street. The street terminated right by Government House (which was next to The People’s Square…I do wonder what Mao would think if he knew that The People’s Square was now inhabited by Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway).
Finally I made my way back to the Pearl River for a nice little walk to kill time before heading to the bus terminal. There, vendors roamed the riverfront selling sugar cane and roasting meat over an open fire on their bicycles (yes, bicycles). Workers also unloaded huge packages of (presumably) rice onto bikes, which were then ridden off to different directions.
Having gotten a nice view into the personality of this city, I made my way to the bus terminal for my overnight ride to Yangshuo, my next destination on my Asian Adventure!