Updated: Mar 4, 2020
The beginning of July was our first trip within the Guangdong province, and it took us to the ancient town of Chaozhou. After a two hour train ride and a 45 minute taxi, we ended up at our Airbnb, which was really cute and had a really quirky aspect to it... Half of the roof was open to the sky! This wasn't in the description when we booked the Airbnb, but we had fun with it, even when it started to pour down rain! We can all now say we have had to use umbrellas indoors!
After dropping off our stuff in our rooms (safely away from the open roof and the rain), we ventured out to find some food, where we settled into a place with traditional Chaozhou cuisine and stuffed our faces. Once lunch was finished, we walked around the city, being silly with each other, hiding under our umbrellas each time the rain started (though it stopped just as quickly as it started), and discovered what Chaozhou had to offer. We began our adventure for the day at Paifang Street, the famous Chaozhou Arch Street, a long pedestrian road lined with shops and framed by dozens of stone arches. We headed towards the Han River, where we came to the ancient wall that surrounds the city. We climbed on top of it, discovering an excellent view of the Guangji Bridge (which we explored the next day), and the Guangji Tower Gate. The Tower Gate had a mini art exhibition inside, which we checked out before heading back to our Airbnb to get ready for dinner (but not before stopping for some grass jelly and smoothies)!
For dinner, we wound our way through the busy streets of Chaozhou, which screamed China in every way possible. People on motor bikes packed the streets while pedestrians wove in between, horns blared and people shouted, shop owners calling to us as we squeezed our way through the crowds to buy everything from fresh fruits to roasted duck. This was probably the most authentic experience I have had in China so far! Once we arrived at our restaurant, we sat down for a Chaozhou-style hot pot, which was delicious in every capacity. It was hysterical watching those who had not quite developed their chopstick skills yet try to fish the various meats and vegetables from the pot, so those who had better dexterity with their chopsticks helped out when they could. After our bellies were full, we headed back to our house, doing some clothing shopping along the way. Once back home, we played games and had drinks with each other, finishing the night hanging out and enjoying each other's company.
The next day was more sightseeing, starting with the the Buddhist Kaiyuan Temple. Afterwards, we found our way back to Paifang Street, where we did a bit of souvenir shopping (everything was incredibly cheap)! Several of us got little clay frogs with coins in their mouths to bring good fortune! We also had our sweet tooths kick in, so we stopped for some ice cream.
Up next was the sight I was most excited to see, the Guangji Bridge (also known as the Xiangzi Bridge). Apparently there is an old saying that if you go to Chaozhou without visiting the bridge, you can't say that you've been to Chaozhou, and I wanted to make sure I could say I have been to Chaozhou! This bridge is one of China's four most famous ancient bridges, and it is extremely unique because the middle part of the bridge is made up of boats that depart in the evening, making the bridge impassable until the next day. We had a blast as we crossed over the Han River, taking so many photos, being incredibly silly, and of course making a ton of memories.
We had planned to go swimming in the afternoon, but those plans fell through, so we ended up heading back to our house to relax (and in my case, take a much needed nap) before we went out for the night. The club we went to started out a bit rough, having a different idea of what a cocktail was than what we westerners are used to, but we got it figured out and the rest of the night was an absolute blast! We definitely stayed up way past our bedtimes, but we have so many inside jokes from that night that we will always remember.
The next day we sadly had to return to Shenzhen, so after a big breakfast at a local place we had found the day before, we set out for home with many, many good memories to laugh and joke about for the rest of our time here.