Saturday, 7 May 2016

My Favorite Hotels @ Guangzhou

Here's a little story of what happened during our arrival at Guangzhou.

I, for one, would never have suggested anything I haven't yet experience. One thing for sure, anything that comes out from my mouth, it is based on what I underwent. It could be pleasant, it could be nasty, but at least it is honest.

My friend and I visited Guangzhou city during late winter this year. Just a thing you need to know about these friends of mine, this was their first time coming to this city, or even China. To make things a little bit more 'interesting', these dudes were pretty fussy. They cared too much about the food, the place they stayed and the people they met. I mean, come on! You're practically thousand miles away from home, you can''t just expect things to be exactly like home.

Travelers do not seek for similarity, wanderers do not look for comfort. Better keep that in mind next time any of you plan a trip abroad.

So I told these two friends that I've visited Guangzhou twice and stayed in the same hotel. It wasn't the best hotel with great facilities, or whatnot, but never did I experience any problem when making reservation, paying room fees and rest. For people who value their time and security, going back to the same place over and over again isn't that bad. But if you do want to seek for something new, try it along the way. Don't simply jump into conclusion that your first try will be all fine. Most of the time, it won't.

These friends of mine, apparently, suggested a hotel near to city center, it's practically located in the well-known Beijing Road, a pedestrian street for people to shop. I refused it at first, because I couldn't find any review made by Malaysian before this and the hotel asked for credit card number. It could be horrible, it could be foul-looking. Or the worst thing that could possibly happen in China, it could be a scam. But don't worry, I found out it was a genuine hotel in the later part.

For some reason, I did not wish to argue on that. Traveling should be fun and going back to China should a memorable moment for me. So I went along with them.

The hotel was called "Grand Continental Hotel", located at 149 Beijing Road, Yuexiu District. A budget hotel that looked splendid from the inside, but a total different from the outside (not that it bothered me). That first photo, that was what we saw after first stepping into the room. Huge and bright. I liked the way the lighting was set. And the ceiling lights, they were perfectly placed. We got our-self a room on 23rd floor and when I pushed aside the drapes, a huge part of the city laid right in front of me. From the bank of Pearl River, to the outer part of the city, it looked so fine at night.

Getting a fantastic hotel at a cheap price, and while you knew nothing about it, isn't something you get to see on daily basis. Let's face it, it took us a lot to finally settle in.

Like I said before this, the hotel asked for our credit card number and we had to give out one-day deposit (It's kind of compulsory for some hotels). But I never liked the idea of giving out deposit, not in China. My other friend and I nearly lost hundreds of Yuan after placing a deposit in a Ski Park, in Beijing. I learn from my mistake.

So the story goes like this, they booked the hotel without informing me. And last time I checked, I've visited China more than four times and them, none. I've seen plenty of scams and problems when making payment. Why would you think my opinion was not okay?

I guess I had to follow them instead, because they were the one who paying my stay (because you know, I was some sort of tour guide).

To make this shorter, three things happened that bothered me a lot. And it could actually be resolved by discussing. One, my friend informed the hotel that we would arrive there an hour after touchdown. For your kind info, that could never happen. It takes at least thirty minutes to clear out from Immigration department and it takes around one hour to get the driver or taxi. And ow yeah, airport traffic, that's a real shit. And by the time we got to the hotel, it was more than two hours. Guess what, there was nobody in the lobby to give us a room. I did call the officer, like dozens of time, no one picked up. Funny thing is, my two friends got pretty cranky and started blaming those stupid systems China had. But deep down in my heart I knew, they should have listened.

Secondly, it was nearly four in the morning and we still couldn't reach out anyone. So I made my last call, we should just go to the initial hotel I was suggesting, which had given us an extra detour and waste of cash. And you know what, this hotel had people working 24-hour every day. Yeah! Opinions do make life easier!

And finally, or should I say ultimately, the hotel refused to pay us back the deposit when we returned the next day. The reason being, was that the system would not allow any changes. Unless we chose to stay, then they could deduct the room fee from deposit. That was pretty shitty. And the sad thing is I knew that was going to happen.

So I stepped out and tried my best to bargain with the counter-guy. The English he was using was unrecognizable to us, so I had to fully use Mandarin to win this deal. In the end, we came to conclusion to stay for one more night. Should we require to stay more than that, we would let him know. On top of it, I asked for a 50 Yuan discount for making our trip 'slightly' disoriented. And what happened the day after was that we left the hotel, and stayed in the hotel I suggested. Yeah! Another unnecessary detour!

Don't get me wrong, though. Never had I face any problem during my one-night stay at Grand Continental Hotel. Like I said, the non-required necessities was more of a human's inadequate decision. And it could be entirely prevented by listening, or discussing.

On my last note, I had a perfectly fine stay. After a non-stop walk all around the city, I got the chance to spend my midnight, sitting on the 23rd floor and looking over the city. It got even better when munched on the strawberries I bought earlier from the streets. And the low lights around the room, hot shower I just had. Not much of a fancy vacation, but I did enjoy my time.

Not to miss things I found quite convenient here:

1. There is a cheap Muslim Chinese restaurant in the next alley.
2. Another modern/expensive Halal-restaurant near the entrance of Beijing Road.
3. Short distance away to the well-known pedestrian street.
4. Located in front of Beijing Road Metro Station.
5. Taxi service everywhere.
6. Located in the center of Guangzhou city.
7. Less than 10-minute taxi ride to Pearl River bank.

Okay, now let's move on to the second hotel - Clivia Hotel. Located in the north of Jiefang Road, number 823. This is my third visit. I know, I am obsessed with this hotel.

Now before you fill your head with all those disappointment, let me explain myself. I know that it isn't as fancy-looking as Grand Continental Hotel. So let's look at it as a whole.

Here's a brief list of things I love around here:

1. Located next to a Uighurs/Arab restaurant.
2. Another cheap Muslim Chinese restaurant in 200 meters.
3. Night market at the back alley.
4. Nearby to a pedestrian street, where you could get fruits, souvenirs, 7-Eleven, hardware etc.
5. Located 100 meters away from Memorial Park Metro Station.
6. Plenty of ATM machines nearby.
7. No traffic jam at all (believe me guys).
8. Majority of the visitors are from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Arab countries.
9. Reservation can be make by phone calls (No deposit needed).

If any of you have read my previous entry, I actually reviewed this hotel once. It was on 2014 if I'm not wrong. In my personal opinion, I would prefer to stay near the outskirt, or at least out from the city center. Because there, you could see all kind of plain sight and activities the locals do. Like parents picking up their children from school, elderly performing Tai-chi at the park, the store-keepers cleaning up their shops, people walking their dogs on the street. Plain.

Both of the hotels I mentioned shared the same price. They cost us 199 Yuan per night, for a 3-bedder. There are some other hotels that offering the same price too. Perhaps I'll scout them out next time.

So keep in mind when you wish to book a hotel in China - recommendation is mandatory. Ask around or at least make a full research and call the hotel before you book any. The people there are not as vicious as I seem to describe, but this thing definitely involves money transaction. You don't simply trust people when it comes down to that.

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