After the rains on Monday the pollution eased a little, but it is still quite dusty and there is a lot of noise from construction works at every corner.
Guangzhou is not exactly a tourist destination, more like a convenience town for the thousands of manufacturing plants in the Guangdong region. The urban planning is haphazard and sprawling, high-end lifestyle stores next to grimy toolshops, residential block sharing acreage with offices and shop, the grey concrete all pervasive, and the taxis very ill-maintained and can sometimes be difficult to find. Fortunately our apartment is located in what the locals describe as an upmarket desirable neighbourhood and there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. We've been quite the homebodies, other than the trips to the agency and immigration departments, we have stayed mostly indoors, venturing to the wet market for very fresh produce (fresh as in you point, they kill) or the local Jusco or Park n Shop for groceries.
The eating has generally been good to excellent. Even their fast food is not something to sniff at, one night we ate dinner at the very popular fast food chain Zan Gong Ku (Real Gongfu) which uses Bruce Lee's face as their logo. The food was generous, tasty, nutritious and inexpensive, best of all, there wasn't any MSG after-effects.
This city is very down-to-earth, there isn't a see-and-be-seen restaurant scene that I've come across yet. In fact, the more fancy places isn't that much better in terms of food quality than a humbler establishment. A lunch at Peach Blossom in Garden Hotel was terribly disappointing while a repeat visit to Upday Chao revealed that their forte is dim-sum not more elaborate dinner dishes.
A better bet would be in any of the modest airconditioned eateries popular with the locals. Last night we walked randomly into Man Fook Lau,one of the many eateries along Beijing Road. The manageress took us in hand, helping us to order a homely slow-boiled soup, charsiew, lettuce hearts and hotpot rice. The charsiew was first-class, sticky sweet-salty with melting fats in between tender meat. The seasonal lettuce hearts were simmerred in a rather oily broth but the surprise was a generous topping of fresh bamboo pith, almost a heaped bowlful of the sweet crunchy stuff. Best of all though, was the "yim yau kuk fan" literally riced baked with salt and oil, the rice not in the least greasy but infused delectably with fragrant shallots and soy sauce, good food at its simpliest best. Portions were vast, we took home the leftovers which were just as well appreciated the second time round.
Pictures to come later, promise!