We also met one of Helen's cousins in Foshan, about 25 miles from Guangzhou. It is the ceramics capital of the world. And everything is so cheap! I wanted to send some of these ceramic vases home to my mother, but the shipping cost would raise the price several times over. The art work here was absolutely amazing. I really like ceramics.
We visited the Kung Fu museum in Foshan. Next to me is one of Helen's cousins who so kindly showed us around for a day.
Helen introduced me to a new cuisine, goose, and I really liked it.
I had a hunkering for ice cream, and that big chain with the arches has special ice-cream-only outlets in the area and I could not resist. After all, you do know where ice cream was invented, right?
I really enjoyed the big city of Guangzhou. We visited parks and I even got a chance to play some hacky-sack with the locals. I think I like the feel of Chinese downtowns, but I will need to see more. The negatives are lot of air pollution and traffic. But Guangzhou is a prosperous city that is growing like gangbusters. Many people we met were from all over the country -- many spoke Mandarin instead of the local Cantonese dialect spoken here and in much of southwestern China. Buildings are going up everywhere, and I could see welding happening on the top floors of skyscraper skeletons at 10:00 in the evening.
I was also surprised to find out that China has a big counterfeit money problem. You can be sure that every bill you pass worth more than about one US dollar will be carefully scrutinized by the recipient. Many places have machines through which they run all larger bills (bills larger than about 7 US dollars, usually) to make sure they are not counterfeit.
It is obvious that the Yuan is artficially undervalued (the Chinese government controls the exchange rate). We can eat like kings for under 3 US dollars per person. We can also eat for under 1 US dollar per person when we want . . . and most goods are quite cheap for a foreigner, even considering that China is still a developing country with low cost labor.