The ultimate destination of my holiday vacation was the Hong Kong Temple, but that was not the only amazing thing about this trip. It started with a short flight to Guangzhou. We, Aaron and I, flew for a few different reasons. First of all, train tickets were sold out at least a week or two before because everyone seemed to be traveling for the holiday. Secondly, why ride in a train for several hours when you can take a flight less than two?
You may also wonder why we didn’t just fly straight into Hong Kong. Well, it was nearly twice as expensive to fly into Hong Kong as to fly into Guangzhou and take a short express train ride from there to Hong Kong. These travel arrangements also gave us a chance to see another really big city in China.
We arrived late Saturday night and took the very nice Guangzhou subway to where we were staying, with a member of the Church teaching at a local university. The next day we went to church and met with people in person. As awesome as it is to meet via computer and phone each week, meeting in person is wonderful.
After amazing church services, we decided to take advantage of our time in Guangzhou and go see some of the sites. Our first thought was to visit the new Guangdong Museum (that’s the name of the province), but the line was way too long. We soon found out that traveling over the Golden Week is not the best idea unless you really like lines and are very patient.
Instead of the museum, we wandered around the beautiful plaza and park that was created for last year’s Asian Games that is surrounded by several new buildings including the museum, opera house and one of the tallest buildings in the world. Just across the Pearl River from this park is another of the tallest buildings in the world. In fact, it’s the tallest TV tower in the world at 600 meters, the Canton Tower.
I read about it in Lonely Planet and then researched it further online and said “Oh, I want to go there.” So, we did. It was completely worth it. The observation deck is 450 meters high and has spectacular views of the city, and I’m sure on a clearer day, much further than that, maybe even to Hong Kong.
On this level there is also one of those glass rooms you can walk out over the air in. It’s a very exciting experience standing nearly 500 meters in the air and being able to see everything under me. However, unlike the similar glass boxes in the tower formerly called Sears, these ones had big steel supports and girders obstructing some of the view. I guess they make you feel a little safer, but I didn’t feel any less safe in the Chicago building than this one.
We wanted to go to the roof, so we got tickets to the Bubble Tram, the world’s highest wheel. We got up there just before all of the lights began turning on and watched the city slowly come alive in a vivid light spectacle. The staff members were polite and knew what they were doing. The whole operation was very professional and seemed very un-Chinese.
Near the tower was another, much older tower. An old pagoda from many years ago gives the perfect contrast to the modern structure on the riverfront. In fact, this is how I see and respect China. It is constantly moving forward and progressing (sometimes much too quickly for its own good) but at the same time it holds to its ancient traditions and culture.
To Be Continued in part 2…