No doubt the odd Dinosaur polo has made it overseas but to my knowledge this trip to China is the first time a group from our footy club has traveled together which is another feather in the cap for the club. The collision of footy, mate ship and business is a powerful combination and given the productive fun we had on this trip, hopefully it is the first of many.
Mon – travel to Guangzhou, China via Singapore
Tues, Wed Thurs – Guangzhou
Friday – Macau
Sat – return to Aus
Sun – arrive early morning
Monday 14th April:
The Blanket swung by Southern Lock and Security in the Hertz rental bus (very comfortable ride at a reasonable rental price) at 7pm with Muzz and The Pest already on board and into the sauce. By Mandurah we were well into the swing and after a quick meal at the pub served by John Bulter’s sister, it was onto the airport. Customs let everyone through except for Craig which was to be a theme for the trip (each time I heard him say ‘damn, mum told me tattoos would cause me grief’) and from there it was all aboard to Singapore (6 hrs) and after a short stop, onto Guangzhou, China (4hrs) which Singapore airlines now calls the Bourbon run as The Ha Ha Boys had a crack at Boonies record and drank the plane dry.
It was Tuesday lunchtime by the time we had thrown the bags into the hotel (Dong Fang which translates to ‘Dick Bite’ in Aussie) and we had made ourselves familiar with the money exchange machine. 550 Yuan to the dollar was the go so with our wallets stuffed with cash, the fidgety four hit the mean streets of Guangzhou, complete with tiger feet stalls and the assorted dried penises. It was an aimless afternoon of window shopping, street drinking (there is no such thing) and prepaid sim card shopping (‘don’t work cos your phone bad..SIM card gooda’…our first taste of customer service Chinese style….aussies not so bad after all). A quick wash back at the hotel and it was out to the Pearl River district for dinner and some chat with the locals. On walking into the restaurant, within a minute, Blanket was holding a live green viper that had been plucked from a wicker basket and had already put it on the hit list before the three China virgins (Pest, Ma-lee, Barclay) could object. Muzz will from here on be known as Ma-lee as our Chinese friends liked to refer to the, how they say, Big Panda (they lined up to get a photo of this huge beast whenever they could). We sat down and had a nice dinner and drinks before the snake came out…strange that it had a backbone but there you go…it was China and as the English was mostly broken, it didn’t seem like much use asking questions…as you would expect, it tasted like chicken (abet, with a green skin). We paid the bill and found a bar across the street with marble, lights and chandeliers but no people so we headed into the karaoke bar next door and sang our hearts out, expressed ourselves through dance (Blanket with a toilet roll at one point) and worked through a few Budweisers. As we walked out of the place a dwarf was singing a Robby Williams song on stage in the main bar so as things were getting a bit boring, we decided to give that lonely bar next door one last go. You couldn’t believe it was the same place, packed to the rafters. Blanket made friends with everyone in the place so the drinks flowed like, well like drinks and we rallied ourselves for a final travel weary push and before we knew it yours truly was on stage with a group of very well groomed young men. There was a little too much bump and grind so Blanket took over with his famous ‘shuffle and point’ manoeuvre which sent the alternative life stylers into a frenzy which culminated in Pesty throwing one of the lads onto the stage to get him off him…wow!! As we were giving off all the wrong signals, it was time to call it quits. Back at the hotel,Ma-lee and Blanket were keen to be moving like gazelles at the fair so they called room service for an emergency massage.
We woke a bit scratchy but keen to get to the fair so we scoffed some breaky (nothing for Craig as said he was full from the night before). Blanket claimed his massage was the best he had every had and to celebrate, he loaded his plate up 3 times with every fried tit bit on the banquet. An hour on the bus and we were at the fair. Ma-lee was like a coiled spring and couldn’t sit down so he left us to contemplate the day ahead. A few hours later we caught up with him and he uttered a sentence that was to haunt him for the trip…’’there’s nothing here, hey ?!!’ The Ha Ha boys and myself looked at him and burst out laughing….we were in one of the biggest shows on earth but ‘there was nothing here’. It was enormous, with shuttle cars going between sheds that were hundreds of meters long and wide and 4 floors…all packed with stalls.
Our dreams of seeing the meca of casinos at Macau (Macau Macau aaaah waaaa over hear aaaah waaaaa) was put to the sword during lunch when one of Blanket’s contacts advised that we would need another visa to get in/out of the place. So, another day at Guangzhou was decided which gave us the opportunity to take the foot off the accelerator but as Ma-lee would say, ‘there’s nothing to see here’ so maybe we would have been ok…but little did we know that the evening ahead would make the extra day a welcome detour. With our bags backed with product brochures/business cards and Pesty now hobbling due to Mr Chow getting him onto an electric unicycle that bit him on the heal (taking a nasty chunk out which would see him limp around like the Hunchback of Jurassic Park for the rest of the trip), we headed back to a bus and the sanctuary of the Dong Fang Hotel. After a shower and Ma-leeand Blanket had got through another massage, we spoke to the crew at the hotel, about where to go, had a drink at the bar and headed for that district. A nice Mediterranean restaurant was found and it was off to find a bar that Pesty had seen in our earlier travels…we hit the mother load…there was a reggae band playing, Sheesha (fruit and tobacco smoking pipes), a Canadian manager who spent most of the night with us and kept the bar open after closing, then guided us to a late night bar later in the evening…wow!! It all culminated in a 7am finish and a late start to the next day.
1pm and a sheepish wake up began…we had missed a day at the fair but given there would now be no Macau, we knew we had Friday so a slow day around the hotel was planned. That went out the window as by 2pm we had found a Dim Sum restaurant, had a couple of Pear River ales on the table, dressed up in our Dinosaur shirts and were enthusiastically belting out Waltzing Matilda to the polite clapping of the other dinners. Blanket was magic man one minute and the next he was playing a sheep as I was demonstrating how to wrangle and Pesty was showing off his wide comb shearing technique, all to a very confused audience. Tears were flowing at this stage and we were enjoying one of our best meals for the trip with food critic Craig describing the dumplings as, ‘a burst of goodness in your mouth’…geez they were good though. The next hour was like walking onto the set of a Quentin Tarantino movie as we helped unload petrol into a storage shed, shared chicken feet from a packet with a couple, watched mah-jong being played, Ma-lee met his Asian twin and we saw the sun for first time on the trip. There was no time to go back to the hotel to wash up for the night so we just continued on (‘Sssstraight thru’ as Blanket would say) to Party Pier and before you knew it, we were in a cowboy restaurant, each with the waiter hats on and massive Hoegaarden pints in our hands. After a good hit out which included Pesty riding a massive wooden horse and shooting balloons, we headed further up the pier. Ma-lee and Craig found a couple of bartenders who wanted to experiment with a few new cocktails which must have improved their eyesight as they made out Dave from 10 storeys up….those Dino shirts had helped all night with countless, ‘aaaah your friends are over there’ assistance. The long rest day finished with a shopping trip at 2am in the back blocks of Guangzhou which made for some very suspect purchases…Stace Hwill not be getting much use out of her $10 sneakers this side of Bagdad I wouldn’t have thought.
Pesty had mentioned that he had never had a day with The Blanket that didn’t involve alcohol so Dave ‘Big Daddy’ H took up the challenge and it was to be a dry 24 hrs. After we moved hotels to the next door Marriot, it was back to the fair to pick up where we left off on Wednesday. Ma-leewas a completely different man to the ‘there’s nothing here’ fair goer earlier in the week and was wrapped to find some lintels, for the rest of us, we shuffled amongst the crowds in 30 degree heat and hydrated when we could find a drink that was below room temp (not big on refrigeration in China). With massive taxi lines from the fair, we found ourselves following a potential gang of thieves into a subway that could have been the precursor to a very dark place…we broke those ties for a traditional taxi after walking our traditional 5kms before getting one. The next couple of hours back at the hotel where like a haemophiliac walking into a blood bank…bit of time forPesty and Iby the pool with a few beers while Ma-leeand Blanket enjoyed their umpteenth massage for the week. A bit of a rinse and it was off to the Tian He district for some dinner and a bit of stall shopping on the way home….Blanket no drinks BTW and we were home in the PM for first time during the trip.
9am and it was off to the airport..Christmas carols were playing in the gift shop as we left….’Hark now hear the angles cry..’ in April..classic China….cheerful enough but just not quite right. Dave had booked the flights home so on each leg a sticker would appear on a poor unsuspecting ‘mate’s’ seat…soon to be followed by a hostess letting you know that your Indian Vegetarian meal would be served after the other guests had got their beef or chicken meal….but on the back of the week we had had, a nice green salad looked pretty good to me. After a very short stop in Singapore, we were home at close to midnight and found the Hertz rental bus where we left it. The cool Freo doctor hit us in the face as we exited the Perth airport, we collected a roo on the way home which McNaughton Gardiner will no doubt hear about and before we knew it, we were back in the Southwest and pretty happy about it.
Sunday – Home at 2am
The plague epidemic, part of the Third Pandemic reached Guangzhou in 1894 and caused the death of 60,000 people in a few weeks. I felt like we had put ourselves through at least as much as those poor souls had to endure and consider ourselves fortunate to have got home safely abet a few sore stomach muscles.A trip to try and remember for sure!!!