Sourcing in Guangzhou, China
48 hours in Guangzhou and I felt this city and country have nailed the perfect balance of modern High Tech living with Slow Life living.
I flew out of Delhi on a Friday night to meet Ku, my lovely friend who features in the Part 2 - Round the Globe - Taiwan & Hong Kong film, check it out, under the films tab. We have been collaborating for 5 years now, I meet her by chance, after a very long day walking around one of those generic trade shows. It took me a few moments to zoom in and see what could be possible, since then she has invited me into her world and I am so grateful to experience this first hand and share the delights with you.
So off we go for a quick 48 hours of inspiration and sourcing, with the local expert, Ku, she travels to China frequently and has been encouraging me to join her on one of these trips. I always felt I could never fit it in, this is just the mind playing tricks, so at the last minute I decided to go, you never know what you’ll see and learn, an express turnaround of a Chinese Visa, 3 days before I fly out to India and I’m set. EP Travel Tip 1: I really have to start planning ahead a little better.
On arrival, I make my way via a taxi to our hotel, because I really didn’t know what to expect, this is normal for the first time, I was unprepared for no English speaking taxi drivers who didn’t take credit card. Luckily, when I left home in Australia, I had grabbed some Chinese looking money which my kids had bought back from their school trips years ago. I had grabbed this on the way out the door thinking “it might come in handy” and it did, I scrapped together just enough Chinese/Hong Kong dollars to pay for the taxi. EP Travel Tip 2 : Always arrive in a new country with some local currency and have the language translator App downloaded on your phone, so you can communicate, “what you don’t take credit card!!!” don’t translate the swear words, I breathed a sign of relief when I saw Ku, yay, I don’t need to speak now. EP Travel Tip 3 : Always have a local guru on the ground.
Now this has been a journey so far, so when I eventually check into the hotel room (via the translator App) no words have been exchanged, just nodding, and showing each others phones with the translated words, I dropped my gear and go to Ku’s room and flop on the couch, she has this absolutely amazing talent of making any space look and feel like “home”. I’m immediately at peace. We have our girlie catch up, drink tea, eat special Chinese cakes and bread, the vibe is set for how the next few days will flow. Off to bed to be well rested for a full day of sourcing. The first thing that struck me about the hotel room is how Zen like it is, very calming after travelling. All neutral coloured wood panelling and all accessories, including the linen are white, It was very restful after a busy travel day. I’m going to like it here, as I fell asleep.
Fully rested by the morning we head to the buffet breakfast, I like to stock up on protein, I find this is the best way to keep the energy levels stable especially when you know your day is going to be full on, it fills you up for a good chunk of the day. This buffet was so good, heaps of root vegies, protein dishes, tea, coffee, very little bread, or processed food, plus alot of unrecognisable delights, I looked around at what the locals were eating to work out, what to go for next on the buffet, because some of the dishes I did not recognise, nor know what to do with them, but wanted to try.
After breakfast and our rough mapping out the day chit chat, the fun begins, off we go, via the metro, (yay not via taxi) because I still haven’t taken any cash out. We head to the main fabric market, now my eyes stop blinking we are in the middle of floors and floors of everything you can ever imagine. The mall is blessed with the Chinese Good Luck sign, I can see why, there is so much fabric, colours, textiles, trims, patterns, how do you find anything you are looking for, if you didn’t have your local guru, there is so much choice. Good luck with that.
Ku and I we walk, we talk, we eat, we source, we chat and brainstorm, I am so drawn in by the tea settings in each stall. Each individual store has created a unique and personal tea setting in the middle of their little shop, it is like a gentle reminder to take time out, sit and rest, take a breather and enjoy your tea, slowly. Without words, it is saying “come into my shop, sit and reconnect, you are invited”. It was so welcoming.
After we have finished our “looking-for-everything-you-may-ever-need” sourcing, we take a detour, off the main drag, through a tiny wooden archway, into the back streets. On one side of the buildings is the main street where we had just spent most the day, filled with modern day shops and shopping malls, then behind this facade is the real Chinese life, where time has stood still, there was this picturesque Chinese community, the local fruit and veggie stall, the local cigarette shop, weekend washing hanging out on the line, old apartments with locals living in them, families having lunch together, TV’s blaring, friends passing time by playing cards. This was a gem, even through I actually felt like an intruder, I had to walk through there twice, I couldn’t get enough of the energy and watching the locals working through their daily activities.
We stopped and lunch in an authentic Chinese local shop and was served by the lovely lady who was 72, still working as a waitress, adorable. This trip also included late night foot massages, more sourcing the next day and the last flight out of Guangzhou back to Delhi to land late on a Sunday, quite exhausted. As I was sitting there, a little bit lonely in one of those empty impersonal airport lounges, eating the most dried up spring roll ever for dinner, on a Sunday night missing my family, I did feel like I might have pushed myself a bit too much and could have easily said “no I can’t fit it in”, but now that feeling has passed and Ku and I are creating more, growing together, expanding our connections, and it gets better, deeper, so never give up, those feelings are only momentary.
I have started mentoring a girlfriend, her name is Lisa, she wants to relaunch her business in fabric textiles, it’s incredible, she’s incredibly talented and Ku is part of the launch process, we are all in this together, so this story is to be continued…… Keep shining, Emma