Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pearl River Boat Cruise – Guangzhou

I have been living in Guangzhou for almost a year now and I had not till last weekend gone on the Pearl River Cruise. It is quite a popular attraction for foreigners and locals alike. I have seen the numerous boats with bright colored lights on them traveling up and down the river when I have passed that area in evenings. They were all pretty large barges that looked like restaurants to me. I was not really keen to get on and try the food but I was looking forward to some cooler weather when I could go for a roof top cruise on the Guangzhou Pearl. The ticket booth and dock is located not too far from Beijing Lu, and pretty close to Baby Face night club. You can get there by telling the cab Tian Zi Ma Tou.

There are numerous boats to choose from and the ladies working the counter speak very little English. The price lists for the boats is totally in Chinese as well so all I could really understand was the numbers. I did figure out that the lower prices were for lower decks and the higher prices for the top levels. I definitely wanted to feel the breeze so we picked up tickets for about 98 RBM each. I could not figure out what this included but it was on the top deck for sure. Not all the boats were very attractive so I was happy to see that we got this awesome looking old school Chinese barge. It had loads of character, even from the outside.

Apparently the boat we were on contained an exhibition of the Guangzhou Maritime Silk Museum. I did not see any suck thing on board but it must have been there or else they would not have advertised it so obnoxiously. The sign was HUGE.

It appeared to me that the boat had 3 levels, on which was indoors, then the one above that was half of the top deck and open air, and behind that there was a higher level where were sitting. The tickets also appeared to have table numbers to which we were assigned. Fortunately it was a Sunday evening and not too busy so we had ample space to move around in and find more comfortable seating. The tables and chairs were basically garden furniture.

I later found out that our price did not include food but there was a small buffet available in the dining area and soft drinks and tea were free flow. Beers cost 12 RMB. They also gave each table a basket of fruits. The atmosphere was clean and the staff very pleasant. Surprisingly most of the crew spoke very good English.

When the weather in Guangzhou is not too hot it is great to chill on the top deck of a boat and take a trip on the Pearl River. The buildings on her banks are all lit up decoratively and you pass under numerous bridges that all exhibit different styles of construction not to mention lighting. There is a guide talking over the speakers about the sights but it is all in Chinese so for me that was more of a nuisance. Nonetheless the view is spectacular.

In my opinion the Pearl River Cruise in Guangzhou is well worth 100 RMB even if it does not include any food. The ride lasted about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The boat sails up the river first to Shamian Dao where the river forks. She then turns around and sails back past the dock towards Ersha Dao almost up to the last bridge. That area is exceptionally beautiful because there are so many new buildings coming up. The new Guanzhou TV tower is going to be a spectacular edifice when it is finally completed.

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