Our hotel, the White Swan, is situated on beautiful and historic Shamian Island – a sandbank island – Shamian literally means ‘sandy surface’ in Chinese Mandarin.
The island has rich history - the area was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century, and many buildings feature historic markers that speak to their heritage. This island is gorgeous and feels more like Europe than Asia, featuring colonial architecture and lush gardens. The island’s main avenue is lined with Banyan trees and architectural highlights and is surrounded by the Pearl River and canal system with stone walkways and arched bridges.
Shamian is also a favorite location for wedding photos; dozens of couples can be seen posing for professional photographs most days. There are also several great regional and western restaurants, many with outdoor patios, as well as art galleries, shops, café’s, and a playground. And there are a few touches of home including a Subway sandwich shop, Papa John’s Pizza and even a Starbuck’s!
This is a very comforting and peaceful place to stay and explore. People are generally friendly and the shopkeepers are used to westerners.
Today we took it easy, amd hung out with our new friends that now seem like old friends. After breakfast we visited the hotel's playroom - a top notch facility sponsored by Mattel. The girls had a blast playing together and so did the parents.
After a late mornig nap for Liana, we joined the Gill's and Rigney's for a trip to an electronics market just off the island. As usual, the girls and their babies draw attention. As we made our way back from the market to the island, we saw a crowd gather along the Pearl River. A man a snagged an enormous catsfish, and was wrestling in into a net. It must have weighed at leats 15 pounds!
We shopped a bit for gifts, and then joined the Rigney's for lunch at Starbuck's - it was nice for Liana and Piper to spend some quality time togther.
This evening we went back to our the Cow and Bridge Thai restaurant a third time, a favorite for most of our group, and wished our Seatle and Tennessee families farewell as they are fortunate enough to leave a day earlier than our Midwestern adoption group.
One more full day in Guangzhou and then we start our journey home!