I bet you can’t guess the first thing I did when I landed in Guangzhou China, but what kind of person would I be if I didn’t let you take a stab at it? So go ahead.
Eat dim sum because Guangzhou is not only the home of some incredible Cantonese food, but it’s also where dim sum was born? Noooooooope.
Visit one of the many beautiful Buddhist temples or perhaps Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street to buy an adorable Hello Kitty watch, which was obviously made for a child? Naw, naw, naw, son.
Walk around Shamian Island, the part of the city that was colonized by the French and then the British, because the French and Brits’ favourite thing in the world to do is colonize? That was the LAST thing I did, silly!
If you guessed any of those things, you’re dead wrong, pal. In classic Pornel fashion, the first notable thing I did was GET A NOSEBLEED THAT LASTED FOR 5 FULL MINUTES IN MY NEW, FANCY, CLEAN HOTEL!!! And not in the privacy of my room, either. I love a spectacle too much for that subtly. My nose decided to expel a real heavy flow of brain blood in the prestige lobby, where there wasn’t a tissue to be found until I asked (bled on?) one of the concierges with a fist to my nose and a sparkle in my eye. What can I say? Airplanes are incredibly dry and I really should’ve known better than think I’d walk away unscathed by the Nosebleed Fairy.
After bleeding a Super OB Tampon’s worth of blood, my day could only get better and it did. I met up with my tour guide, Julia, who I found on Trip Advisor, and she showed me around downtown Guangzhou for the afternoon. We saw all the sites I previously mentioned, plus the Herb Market, a street that seemed exclusively for pets (pet goods and pets themselves), and I peeped the Pearl River, which is apparently the third longest river in China (second longest river was my nosebleed).
The city was exactly what I expected it to be: old temples juxtaposed between new buildings… But not that new. The architecture was incredibly dated, but “modern” compared to the Buddhist temples built, oh I don’t know, hundreds of years ago? Walking around I also felt incredibly nostalgic of a time and place I barely remember, and stronger than that nostalgia was the feeling that I wasn’t a foreigner. Which is absurd because I am completely a foreigner, but this was the first time in a very long time where I saw more similarities than differences in the faces of everyone around me. I saw features that I recognized as ones I had. My tour guide even commented that she thought I was Chinese.
Now, if you think for a goddamn minute that anything that I’ve said can be interpreted as “All Asians look the same,” I will fly back home and nail you to a billboard that says “DIS DOY-OY A BIG TIME RACIST,” because we don’t. Only big-time racist can’t see the differences between one Asian person and another different Asian person. What I’m talking about is looking around and feeling like I look like I’m from the place I’m in, which has never happened in Toronto despite it being an incredibly diverse city. Even though people of colour make up at least half of the city, most people would assume they’re not from there originally. Whether or not that’s wrong or right (spoiler alert: it’s wrong), isn’t really the point I guess I’m trying to make. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though Toronto is my home, and has been since I was 5, and I fully call myself a Canadian… I don’t look “Canadian.” And even though I’m not Chinese, here in Guangzhou, I blend in, in a very real way. And that’s fucked up.
OMG I JUST GOT ANOTHER NOSEBLEED AS I WRITE THIS IN THE AIRPORT WAITING FOR MY FLIGHT TO BALI.
Just when I’m trying to gather my thoughts and make a real point about otherness and feeling like I belong, my other nostril decided it needed it’s own blood solo.
Well, I guess I have to go now and tend to my body, which is clearly not having any of this.