10/6/17

Where to go with kids in Guangzhou – Lingnan Impression Park

There are many great places to visit with your family or kids in Guangzhou, after today I’m going to add Lingnan Impression Park to the list. I was a bit worried if it would be just a fake theme park, but it actually had everything needed for a fun day with the family.

Lingnan Impression Park  岭南印象园 is located in University Island, just half an hour drive from the Guangzhou city center. Tickets are 60rmb for adults and 30 for kids, small kids get in for free. Many discounts are available if you book in advance through group buying apps.

The area is big enough to spend half a day, we ended up staying for five hours, but 2-3 hours can be enough too. The village main street is the busiest, but even today on a holiday it wasn’t too crowded. Areas around the small lake were quite quiet during morning and lunch time, offering some peace and beautiful views.

The main street offers a few restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of Cantonese culture shops. All the traditional art forms are present here, including Lingnan architecture, sugar painting, paper cutting, Cantonese opera, costumes and so on. The park is full of great spots for photos!

The park is located on the spot of the original Lianxi Village. Fok family temple is one of the oldest, constructed in the Ming dynasty and renovated in 2002. There are a few other old buildings as well, but mostly is newly built replicas that continue the Lingnan architectural style.

During the day there are several shows being presented around the area, including puppetry, dancing and Cantonese opera. You can visit several temples and replicas of private houses to get a glimpse on how the wealthy lived back in the ancient China.

Don’t forget food! The main street is full of small food stalls and there are at least three Cantonese restaurants in the park. Coffee shops serve ice cold drinks and ice cream is available no more than few  steps away no matter which part of the park you are.

Besides getting to know the Lingnan culture, the park is also a big playground for kids! There are several play areas for kids of different ages. Huge sand pit, climbing, slides, catching small fish and even a splash pool that is open during the Summer holiday.

Kids will enjoy the playgrounds for sure, no matter what age! Anna’s favorites where the slides and playing with the sand.

These slides have to wait a year or two before we let Anna go in them, but luckily there were smaller slides and climbing nets for the toddlers as well.

All in all we enjoyed our day at the Lingnan Impression Park a great deal. We didn’t get to visit any of the museums or temples, but today was all for having a fun family day so we spent our time at the playgrounds. Next time we want to visit the farm side and see the small animals too, this time Anna’s nap time didn’t allow us to see everything.

More family friendly sights and activities in Guangzhou coming soon!

09/28/17

Day off at Xiaozhou Village

Xiaozhou village is an old historical village and the first time I visited it was by accident more than 7 years ago. We were curious students who walked over the bridge from University Island and found the art village by pure luck. After that I have roamed the alleys of Xiaozhou village at least ten time, but the previous visit was almost two years ago. So it was time for a new visit with our daughter Anna!

We started off with a delicious Cantonese breakfast, Anna loved the egg rolls, congee and dumplings! My husband Alan was also impressed how the flavors brought back memories from his childhood. A perfect start for the day.

Xiaozhou is Guangzhou’s own little “water village”, with a narrow canal going like a snake through the village. Before it was an important life line for the villagers and even these days I saw villagers using the water for washing carpets and rugs.

Numerous small bridges can be found all over the village. Keep an eye on your kids as many of them don’t have railings or gates! On the bridges you can also see art students from the University Island drawing or photographing the views.

Old traditions are still important all over China, including Guangzhou. Offerings are made to ancestors and gods especially on imporant festivals and holidays. Even though Xiaozhou has become more touristy through the years, the locals still keep their old habits and it’s perfect for getting a glimpse on the true life of Cantonese locals.

Xiaozhou also offers peacefull coffee shops, made for reading and writing you bestseller novel. You might notice that some of the coffee shops iare the owner’s living rooms, the family with pets bring lively athmosphere. Our daughter Anna was eager to play with cute little dog at one of the coffee shops, but once the dog came closer she got a bit afraid.

All in all we had a lovely morning and lunch at Xiaozhou village. Next week is 8 day holiday because of the national day, so we hope to explore even more old and new places in Guangzhou.

08/11/17

What should you really bring to China

Guangzhou

That’s Guangzhou recently listed 18 Things All Newcomers Absolutely Need to Bring to Guangzhou and I would like to add a few words of my own to the list. Do you actually need to bring all of these?

1 Hand sanitizer

I don’t personally carry hand sanitizer around with me, but I have seen it being sold on Minisoto and Watson’s for example. Feel free to bring a bottle, but no need to stock up.

2 Skincare and make up

Brand products are more expensive in China than abroad so do bring your favorite products. I don’t do make up my self so I buy the skincare products I need here. I even found face cream with UV protection at Watson’s.

3 Deodorant

Deodorant might be cheaper elsewhere, but it’s easily to be found in any supermarkets, Watson’s, Mannings and so on.

4 Tampons

Difficult to find 7 years ago, but now easy to find same as the deodorant. All Watson’s and Mannings have tampons, mostly ob brand so if you prefer something else, you can consider bringing them with you.

5 Painkillers

Do bring your important medication with you, but for an occasional headache it’s easy to find ibuprofen tables (布洛芬片) in any local pharmacy.

6 Unlocked cell phone

If  you are staying long term, get a Chinese SIM card for your old phone or get a new Chinese brand phone.

7 Photocopies of your passport and visa

You should carry your passport with you, but if you are worried losing it, at least carry a copy of it with you. You might be fined if the police find out you don’t have your passport with you.

8 VPN

Yes! Definitely do download and register a VPN before you come. I have used VyprnVPN since 2015. Click her to get it with a nice discount!

9 Extra clothes and shoes

My shoe size is 38 and in clothes I use M or L (European size) so I don’t have too many troubles finding things to wear. I usually shop at Uniqlo and H&M. If you have a large shoe or clothing size, you probably want to bring more with you, especially nice shoes. Also if you are much taller than the average Chinese.

10 Basic Mandarin

You can learn a few phrases before you come, or even better, join me at Expat Chinese and register for my courses!

11 Baby powder

Guangzhou is hot and humid, but I’ve never used baby powder after leaving toddlerhood. I do use roll-on deodorant for my thighs to avoid rubbing the skin.

12 Antidiarrheals

Same as with number 5, take the medicine you are used to using back home too. For sudden stomach pain, Chinese pharmacies have better remedies than I’ve been able to find in Finland.

13 Portable fan

Very useful during the Summer, but much cheaper to buy once you arrive!

14 Adapters

Depend on each country, but coming from Finland I haven’t needed any adapters. Many Chinese extension cords are suitable for any kinds of sockets.

15 Gifts from home

Always a good idea to bring special gifts from your hometown, but remember Chinese have a very different style compared to Finns for example. Finnish design isn’t that big of a deal here yet so I often just buy Fazer chocolate for everyone.

16 Extra space in your luggage

Sure, if you are coming for a short trip, you probably want to do some shopping over here. If you live here, you most likely want to bring more stuff from home to China. Besides chocolate, I always bring rye bread with me.

17 An open mind

Absolutely! This is the most important thing to bring with you. China is huge, China is amazing, China is different, be ready for a culture shock. I’ve lived here more than 7 years and there are still parts of the culture that shocks me or surprises me in a good way. It’s constant learning that keeps you going when living in a new culture.


Sara’s short list of things to bring to Guangzhou or China in general:

  • Open mind!
  • A good VPN
  • Personal medicine and hygiene products you can’t live without
  • Some comfort snacks
  • Well… that’s it!
06/15/17

Moving to Guangzhou: Choosing where to live

Moving to Guangzhou for work, study or with a family is an exciting adventure and many problems have to be solved before one is settled in the City of Rams. One of the most common questions I get through email is where to live in Guangzhou. Which compounds are good with kids? In order to solve this, I asked my friends and accquittances to tell me a bit about how they chose which compound to live in Guangzhou.


Oakwood Gold Arch Guangzhou

Oakwood Gold Arch, Ersha Island

“I moved here because of the great expat community”.

“It’s close to the American school where I wanted my kids to enroll.”

“Ersha Island and especially Gold Arch is green, quiet, great for kids. We have a nice pool, playground, indroor playroom. Here it’s really easy to socialise with parents and other families. It’s also close to American School”

“My child goes to American School so most of his friends live here too.”

Canton Mansion

Canton Mansion, Liede

“We love the  community here. My children spend a lot of time with the local swim lessons, tennis lessons, playground and play dates. Convenient shops, delis and restaurants all downstairs.”

“The convenience of the location is what matters the most.”

“The facilities, service and location are perfect for us.”

Golden Lake Guangzhou

Golden Lake, Baiyun

“Nice environment and houses feel like living in USA, which is where we moved from. Good neighborhood feeling and supportive network.”

“Green area, pool and proximity of the school are important for us.”

Other compounds

One Link Apartments, Tianhe: “Easy access to public transportation and shops.”

Fraser Suites, Tianhe (next to One Link Apartments): “Central location is convenient and near metro station.”

Favorview Palace, Wushan: “The French school was located here when we arrive. Plus I liked the green areas. It’s also away from hustle and bustle of the city center.”

COSMOS, Zhujiang New Town: “Bright and spacious.  Within our budget and easy commute to office.”


How to choose?

When choosing the place to live inside Guangzhou, many expat families first consider the location of the school and then the location of the workplace. If there are multiple options, then things like greenery, play areas, transportation and local services come into play. Some prefer to be right in the city with convenient bus and metro routes, other prefer more quiet compound in Panyu or Baiyun districts.

In  the next post of the Moving to Guangzhou -series I’ll be sharing the reasons and tips on choosing which school to sign your kids in.

08/16/16

Chinese lessons in Guangzhou are continuing in September

Learn Chinese in Guangzhou

I’ve gotten emails asking when do I resume teaching Chinese and I thought it’s best to share the plans in a blog post as well. Chinese lessons are continuing in September!

I’ll arrive back to Guangzhou a bit earlier than planned, on the first week of September. After that I’ll need to find a nanny and then I can continue teaching Mandarin. My estimate is that I can continue lessons in mid-September.

I’ll be offering one on one or small group lessons for beginners and elementary level students. Most of my students are keen to learn the basics of spoken Chinese but I have students who are fascinated by the Chinese characters as well. In any case the lessons are always tailored to your personal needs with a flexible schedule.

If you want more information about Chinese lessons in Guangzhou or want to book a meeting with me, get in touch through my contact form!