Guangzhou's old airport, Baiyun Airport, closed down in 2003. I was lucky enough to fly into it back during my first few years in China. Guangzhou was a truly different place in those years- it was the real China! Sadly, there is no trace of the old airport left, except for the control tower building (seen above), which has also been revamped to house a high-end Japanese restaurant! The airport grounds have been replaced with a high-end shopping mall and a huge car park. There is no memorial to the old airport and no reminder for future generations to tell them that the old airport was here (sad): Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Breakfast in Guangzhou (Shiqiao)
No tea or coffee today...sometimes I can be VERY Chinese in my approach to lifestyle. A glassfull of fresh cold milk (taken from well fed local Chinese cows in Guangzhou!), and a couple of delicious Cantonese Egg Tarts did the trick.
Lunch in the air (somewhere over Shaoguan, Guangdong)
Afternoon Tea at the Shangri-La, Pudong (Shanghai)
Shanghai is romantic, hectic, elegant, and nothing short of standing by it motto of being 'The Paris of the East'. From the Jade 36 bar atop the Shangri-La Pudong hotel, under July’s leaden skies; the futuristic skyline of Pudong contrasts with the elegant old-world style of The Bund on the Shanghai side. Go and see it as soon as you can...and enjoy the Afternoon-Tea at the Shangri-La, Pudong.
Always on time, air-conditioned, safe, inexpensive, and very efficient, the Airport Express coaches operate throughout Guangzhou to take passengers to/from the city's main airport. In fact, provided you know your way around the city (and can speak Mandarin Chinese like I do), then the coach is probably a better way to get to/from your destination than the Guangzhou taxi (which is equally good too). Just like Italy and Switzerland, China has buses, metro lines, and trains that run on time (but not their planes), and are air-conditioned, and I'll bet, near 100% ticket compliance. London: take note.
I arrived back from London on the 30th, and then after a few days I am off again...this time to Istanbul for a press trip. I will be going to London after that. It will be my first Christmas and New Year in London with my parents (all my previous Christmas and New Year festivities have been spent in China since 2008). As much as I would love to spend this festive season in London with my parents, I do miss Panyu already because it was my 2nd home for such a long time. So many fond memories.
I will upload photos of Istanbul, and the flight experiences when I have time. In the meantime, the above photo is my last photo I have taken of China. It may not be that beautiful to look at (it's only runway 02R at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport), BUT, it does remind me of the last time I'll be on Chinese soil for some time. It's always a sad feeling for me when I leave China, even if it is for a short time.
So it's goodbye to Guangzhou until 2013 at least!
Guangzhou Baiyun airport is a spacious, modern and very convenient international airport connecting millions to all corners of the globe. Nevertheless, this airport of the Pearl delta is perhaps not the best place to have a late lunch, dinner, or any meal for that matter. For some reason, some of the best eateries at Guangzhou Baiyun airport are located prior to security clearance. I happened to be around an hour and a half early for my departure time to Bangkok with Egyptair. I had already passed the security customs and was making my way to the international departure gates.
The international departure gates area at Guangzhou Baiyun airport is huge and spacious. It has almost everything that any other decent quality airport around the world would have- except good quality eateries. I was craving for a quick bite, but could not find anything decent. Normally I refrain from eating oily food prior to getting on a plane because it’s not good for your stomach at high altitude to have heavy oily food - rather a bland and simple food is OK. However, this time around I was exhausted and was open for suggestion for anything…even MacDonald’s. But guess what? I could not even find that.
Having such a large and long departure lounge has its drawbacks for passengers- especially if you already have walked around a mile to get to the international departure lounge from the check in desks’. I would dread to imagine what life would be like if I had been disabled and had to travel through Guangzhou Baiyun airport because they have very limited facilities for the disabled (i.e. no disabled toilets’ or wheelchair ramps’).
At one end of the departure gate area was a coffee shop that served ridiculously overpriced muffins’, coffee and other related food. Fancy a Coffee at 55RMB in China or a Muffin priced at around 50RMB? (both items in example approx. $8 USD!). They did serve a few hot Baps; however would you pay 70RMB for one in China? (Approx. $11USD!). Forget get, I thought.
I briskly walked further on for around another 100 meters to find a western style restaurant called “Jin Long Coffee”, situated opposite my departure gate from where I would take the Egyptair flight. I glanced at the menu and noticed how ridiculous the prices were. Anyway, hey, I was knackered, still had some valid time prior to take-off, and wanted to fill my stomach up with some good light food. I walked up to one of the window seats and rested my shoulder Camera bag and the laptop onto one of the neatly varnished wooden chairs’.
Just at the moment as I sat down to order my meal, a Thai Airways A330 aircraft had arrived at its gate. After all these years’, I still love looking at planes. Sometimes you just can’t help wonder how such a metal tube can carry so many passengers, rubbish, food, fuel and everything else- and just by running for around a mile it can take off into the sky. It has to be the world’s best wonders’. I was tempted to fly with Thai Airways, however I have flown with them before so I opted to try and see if Egyptair matched up to the expectation. But anyways, what better way to enjoy eating a snack prior to your flight than eating while plane spotting!
The staff at the “Jin Long Coffee” restaurant did not seem to be very much customer serviced oriented. Perhaps bored or perhaps just couldn’t be bothered to serve the customers at all- whatever it was I started to grow serious suspicious on the effectiveness of the staff at this eatery.
I opted for the Tuna Sandwich. In China, the concept of eating a sandwich is a new one. Not many people like eating it. Why? Because, 1. It contains fresh uncooked vegetables’ and Chinese people usually are not used to eating uncooked vegetables and 2. It is considered to be a difficult food to make- not many chefs know the exact way or have the right ingredients’ to make a proper western Sandwich.
After around 15 minutes of waiting, I was wondering why my food has not arrived. After all it was just a sandwich and not a proper hot meal, and time was running out because I only had around 40 minutes left in order to take my flight. So I decided to walk to the counter and ask what’s happening with my order. You would not believe what the response was. “Sandwich? Did you order one sir? When?” asked the waitress; and another waitress came to ask me in her limited English “Sir, are you OK, any matter with you”. I politely told them that I had ordered a sandwich but since no one knew what I was taking about so there was no need to bring it anymore.
Just as I was about to leave, one of the waitresses came in with a plate containing four small triangle sandwiches. The Tuna was not fresh. It seemed to have been taken straight from a preserved tin and slapped directly onto the bread. There were no other ingredients’ in store. No salad and no cream. The bread was soggy because of the tasteless tinned Tuna that had been slapped onto the dish. This dish was not even worth 10RMB let alone the 65RMB (Approx. $11USD) I paid for the sandwich.
Not being picky but for that amount of money in China, if you go to a place like “Garwon” or “Yong He Dou Jiang”, you can easily eat around 6 meals costing 10RMB each and they would taste much better than this below average quality sandwich which I had. It was an interesting experience to say the least and it left me with a bitter taste- so much so that I would seriously re-consider eating anything at the “Jin Long Coffee” restaurant in the international departures lounge of Guangzhou airport.
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