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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Once Upon A Time In China (Part II)

Talk about memories, you either wait for it or create one yourself. The difference is, of course, when you are being proactive, normally you'd try your best to work towards a happy result. That's what I did when I planned for a holiday with my parents. In life, we're either playing the lead, supporting role or merely a cameo to others, so there I was, in the bullet train, fulfilling the role of a son, taking a break from my schedule to spend some quality time with my parents.

As told in previous article, we left Zhuhai on the first day of Chinese New Year. We passed by Foshan and eventually arrived in Guangzhou. After looking and asking around, I realized that we had a slight problem. Apparently the hotel that I booked was nearer to the airport than city center. This was back in the day, when I started learning how to plan for a holiday. It was a total blunder, alright, but yet another moment worth for, "do you remember when we were lost in Guangzhou?" 

As a result of my rookie mistake, we ended up commuting to and fro throughout our stay in Guangzhou. There was this shuttle bus that would bring us to Baiyun airport early in the morning. We would search for the eateries there and that's when we developed a special affinity with the Bruce Lee fast food stall. And hey, on my defence, the hotel we were staying was actually quite good! Even my Dad remembers the hotel name to this day (although he would chuckle a bit when he mentioned it): Henry Business Hotel. Anyway, in hindsight, I tend to agree that from the name alone, it is quite obvious that the hotel shouldn't be associated with holiday, hahaha.  

In Guangzhou, we went to places such as the house of dr. Sun Yat Sen, Guangzhou zoo (I dragged my parents there by using panda as a bait) and the statue of five goats. Since entering China, we also had a habit of buying bullet train tickets in advance. That means our stay in Guangzhou also included the scouting session to find our way to the next train station that we would depart from. (Do take note that cities in China are so big that when you arrive, let's say, at the East Station, it doesn't mean you'll depart from the same station. For all you know, you could be departing from West Station to next city, depends on which train you are taking). 

It was during that particular journey to the train station that I took the picture below. If I have to say it myself, I think it's beautiful and definitely a personal favourite. There Dad and Mum were, embracing the beginning of spring season, looking so relax and still lovingly close to each other after 33 years of marriage. There is a certain tranquil quality in the photo that stays there eternally. If you ever heard of the phrase a picture says a thousand words, this must be the one.

Anyway, from Guangzhou, we went to Shenzhen. We were expecting a warmer weather, but boy, were we wrong! The nights in Shenzhen were too cold for our liking. The hotel room was so spacious that it even included a living room, but it didn't come with the heater. If I compared it with our experience on the next trip, it seems like only hotels in Hangzhou and above come with heater, so if you can't stand the cold, you may want to factor in this to your plan. 

In Shenzhen, we went to the iconic Window of the World, a grand example to show that China can replicate anything from around the world and also has a place big enough to store them all. I remember that we, too, went to some sort of giant book store or library. Those places were fine, but our fondest memory of Shenzhen was a small eating place nearby our hotel. The place served the food in a wooden rice bucket, which was unique, and much to our delight, it tasted good, too!

Eventually, as the saying goes, all good things must come to end. I'm not talking about the holiday, because we still crossed to Hong Kong, but that's where the good things ended and the expensive things started. Joke aside, that was exactly how it felt. Things were cheap and spacious in China, but the moment we stepped into Hong Kong, I could immediately feel the sting; places were cramped and expensive, from hotel room to tea house. By the way, this was Tsim Sha Tsui I'm talking about. 

Still I can't say that we didn't enjoy Hong Kong. We have a relative or two there and we met them somewhere in the East side of Hong Kong Island. We went to the Peak for a visit to Madame Tussauds. We took a ferry ride back to the Avenue of Stars and that was pretty much it. The inverted U shape road map that started from Macau, covering Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, finally ended in Hong Kong. It was not perfect, but then again, it wasn't meant to be. While it's good to have the clear destinations, after all things are said and done, it is the journey that we remember best. Those laughter, those memories...

Once Upon A Time in Guangzhou


Suatu Ketika Di Negeri Cina (Bagian Akhir)

Bicara tentang kenangan, anda bisa menunggu atau menciptakan kenangan untuk anda sendiri. Bedanya adalah, ketika anda berniat, biasanya anda akan melakukan yang terbaik. Ini yang saya lakukan ketika merencanakan liburan bersama orang tua saya. Ketika liburan tiba, saya pun melepaskan diri dari aktivitas saya untuk menjadi seorang anak yang meluangkan waktu untuk orang tuanya.

Seperti yang dikisahkan dalam episode sebelumnya, kita meninggalkan Zhuhai pada hari pertama Tahun Baru Cina. Kereta cepat yang kita tumpang melewati Foshan, kota asal Ip Man dan Wong Fei-hung, dan akhirnya tiba di Guangzhou. Setelah bertanya sana-sini, saya pun menyadari bahwa kita ada sedikit masalah: hotel yang yang pesan ternyata lebih dekat bandara daripada pusat kota! Ini sebuah kesalahan konyol, tapi lucu jadinya setelah dijalani dan kadang muncul mendadak saat kita sedang berbincang, "masih ingat saat kita terdampar di Guangzhou?"

Karena kesalahan saya ini, kita akhirnya selalu menuju bandara Baiyun selama di Guangzhou (ada bis gratis dari hotel ke bandara), kemudian naik kereta bawah tanah menuju kota. Alhasil, kita jadi kenal baik seluk-beluk bandara di sana dan mulai menyukai tempat makan yang bergambar Bruce Lee. Di satu sisi, untungnya hotel tempat kita tinggal itu cukup bagus. Bahkan Papa masih ingat namanya, walaupun dia seringkali tertawa kecil saat menyinggung tentang hotel bernama Henry Business Hotel ini. Kalau saya lihat kembali, harusnya saya tahu bahwa dari namanya saja, hotel itu tidaklah mirip hotel untuk liburan, haha.

Selama di Guangzhou, kita mengunjungi tempat-tempat seperti rumah dr. Sun Yat Sen, kebun binatang Guangzhou (saya pancing orang tua saya ke sana dengan iming-iming melihat panda) dan juga patung lima kambing yang menjadi simbol kota tersebut. Sejak memasuki Cina, saya juga memulai kebiasaan untuk langsung membeli tiket kereta ke kota berikutnya. Ini juga berarti saya harus mencari tahu, bagaimana caranya mencapai stasiun kereta. Perlu diingat bahwa kota-kota di Cina biasanya luas, jadi misalnya kalau kita tiba di Stasiun Timur, ini tidak lantas berarti kita akan berangkat lagi lewat stasiun yang sama. Tergantung keretanya, bisa saja kita berangkat lewat Stasiun Barat. Oleh karena itu, saya lebih cenderung mencari tahu letak stasiun tujuan saya dulu daripada kalang-kabut di hari keberangkatan.

Dalam perjalanan ke stasiun Guangzhou, saya sempat mengambil foto di atas, yang kemudian menjadi favorit saya. Di foto tersebut Papa dan Mama terlihat santai menyongsong datangnya musim semi dan, setelah 33 tahun menikah, masih terlihat begitu rukun satu sama lain. Begitu damai dan bahagia. Jika anda pernah mendengar tentang pepatah satu gambar sebanding dengan seribu kata, maka foto ini cocok dengan peribahasa tersebut.

Setelah Guangzhou, kita melanjutkan Shenzhen. Karena posisinya di selatan Guangzhou, kita berharap bahwa cuaca di Shenzhen lebih hangat. Siapa sangka justru lebih dingin? Kamar hotelnya luar biasa luas dan bahkan memiliki ruang tamu, tapi tidak dilengkapi dengan penghangat ruangan. Jika saya bandingkan dengan liburan kedua di Cina, sepertinya hanya hotel di kawasan Hangzhou ke atas yang menyediakan penghangat ruangan, jadi jika anda tidak tahan dingin, mungkin ini perlu dipertimbangkan.

Di Shenzhen, kita berkunjung ke Window of the World, kawasan wisata yang juga merupakan contoh bagaimana Cina bisa membuat replika apa saja dari berbagai penjuru dunia dan sekaligus memiliki tempat yang cukup luas untuk menampung semuanya. Kita juga mampir ke semacam toko buku atau perpustakaan yang menyerupai lautan buku. Kendati begitu, kenangan yang tidak terlupakan dari Shenzhen adalah tempat makan kecil di dekat hotel. Nasi dan lauknya yang disuguhkan dalam bakul kayu itu enak rasanya!

Pada akhirnya, semua hal yang baik harus berakhir. Oh, yang saya maksudkan bukan liburannya, tetapi harga yang terjangkau di negeri Cina. Dari Shenzhen, kita masuk ke Hong Kong melalui Luohu dan langsung naik kereta menuju Tsim Sha Tsui. Begitu kita masuk ke Hong Kong, semuanya langsung terasa mahal dan sempit, mulai dari kamar hotel sampai tempat makan.

Meskipun mahal, ini tidak berarti saya tidak menikmati Hong Kong. Mama memiliki tante di sana dan kita mengunjungi kediamannya di sebelah timur Hong Kong Island. Selain itu, kita juga pergi ke Madame Tussauds di kawasan Peak sebelum kita naik feri ke Avenue of Stars.

Rute berbentuk U terbalik yang dimulai dari Macau, Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen akhirnya berakhir di Hong Kong. Terlepas dari segala kelebihan dan kekurangannya, perjalanan ini terasa berkesan. Tempat tujuannya sesuai harapan, tetapi yang lebih istimewa lagi adalah kebersamaan serta tawa dan canda selama liburan...

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