Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Off Island

If you are in the China adoption world, the post title definitely means something to you. As I have said before, everyone who adopts here must pass through Guangzhou at some point on their trip. In the past most families chose to stay at the White Swan or the Victory Hotel both located on Shamian Island. From what I hear Shamian Island is like a little oasis in Guangzhou where the US Consulate used to be located. People have compared it with Savannah, GA with all its Spanish Moss and beautiful Pearl River views. The White Swan isn't getting such a good rap these days on review boards like Trip Advisor for its outdated, dingy rooms with unsleepably hard beds and moldy smelling lobby. So not having been here before I was less than enthused about staying at the White Swan and had pushed to stay at the supposedly more comfortable Victory Hotel. Next month the White Swan is closing due to renovations and at the 11th hour our agency decided to pull the group from the Swan and put us at the China Hotel which is a Marriott located off island in the heart of Guangzhou.

For me, the explorer, I was thrilled. A more authentic experience. I was beginning to write Shamian Island off as the artificially disneyesque land of adoption.

After only 3 nights here off island, I am craving the security and stability of that disneyesque place called Shamian Island. Our first night here we took a walk around the entire block that surrounds the hotel. Not only was there not a single place I'd eat but there were times I was definitely not comfortable. Inside the hotel is like a palace. The whole thing is beautiful, with great shops and tons of places to eat. However, I have yet to have a good meal aside from the gigantic buffet breakfast we flock to each morning. We've ordered room service the past two nights and last night when I got off the phone, SJ asked what I ordered for dinner. My reply was, "I have no idea." When the food comes most of it looks largely inedible so I pick at the sides. For the most part I have survived on fried potatoes since we've been here. Hash browns get me through breakfast and french fries are often what is for lunch or dinner for me. SJ just mentioned that he has never had such a hard time finding decent food in China and is shocked that the Marriott is not serving up better fare.

And here is the crux of it, most of what we are getting has chicken in it. Having butchered chickens day in and day out for weeks while training at the restaurant, I know the parts of a chicken like the back of my hand. I can take apart a chicken in 3 minutes with my eyes closed. And yet, when I look at these pieces of chicken, bone-in or boneless, either one, I can't frigging tell what part of the chicken they are coming from. I have visions of some sweaty man in a dirty back room wielding a bloody meat cleaver. If it is even chicken to begin with.

This afternoon after our appointments (of which I am getting really tired) our family is going to venture to the Island to see what we can find. I'll report back.

{Oh and for my girls...the laundry question.....our guide Jason said he has made arrangements to bring our laundry back to the place they've always used on Shamian Island. The shop owner will come to the China Hotel to pick up our bags and bring us our clean stuff 24 hours later. We have not had it done yet but will let you know how it turns out as we hope to send some out today.}


A Beautiful Mess said...

Have fun! Great thai food on the island:) although not great service. I think you will enjoy shamain island.

Chatty Cricket said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison Ryan said...



Is there any chance you can get a room on island? Hoping this starts to go smoother. How is Cici hanging in?

Anonymous said...

When you get to Shamian I remember eating at Lucy's the last time we were there (6 years ago)!

We are packing our bags - we leave for China tomorrow morning - we are headed to Beijing first!!!

Hang in there

Deborah McBride Heppes

nicole said...

in nanchang we had our guide order for us. even room service. check with jason. he might have a few food ideas...we ate garlic broccoli and nanchang noodles every day for 6 days cause it was safe and known. there is a subway on the island (no fresh veggies)and mcdonalds and papa johns (ithink) deliver. baby adorable. the food thing is hard. sorry. congrats!

Anonymous said...

First Congratulations! Your daughter Cici is precious...Sorry to hear about food. My husband and I will be in Marriot on 4 Sep. I will follow your journey for any advice.


afamilysheart said...

The food? Welcome to mainland China. You have discovered why KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds are so popular! Try taking a cab over to Shamian Island for Lucy's (fair food, inexpensive - not a bad grilled cheese sandwich!) or Cow and Bridge. As for the laundry - it will come back clean, somewhat perfumed and more than likely slightly damp so try to get it out of the bag as soon as you can! Just one more thing.... MORE PICTURES PLEASE! LOL!

TK said...

We stayed off island when we traveled in April last year due to the trade show. It was so hard finding food we liked. I swear the chicken we ordered was pigeon or something. It was too tiny bones to be chicken. Plus the lady kept watching us I guess to see our reaction.
You will survive. If all else fails, find a McDonalds and take a taxi. We did.