Zhuhai, on the south coast of mainland China, is right next door to Macau, so, like Shenzhen, it has a special position in development, although it is quite different. Although plans for a rail line from Guangzhou and a bridge and tunnel system from Hong Kong are in the works, right now you can get there either by bus from Guangzhou (buses leave the side parking lot of the Garden Hotel about every half hour during the day) or by ferry from Hong Kong. If you are in Macau, you can walk across the border.
If you arrive by bus from Guangzhou, there are two travel agencies right by the bus station where you can book a hotel at a discount to the price that you will get, if you book the hotel yourself (we also found their prices better than those offered by the on-line travel services, some of which are mentioned on the cover page of this travelogue). There is also a huge underground shopping center upstairs from the bus depot, which is even further underground. There are all manner of shops, eateries, banks, and cafes, down there, and it offers a good place to spend the day, if it is raining. If you ask, discretely, you can also exchange currency.
We stayed at a nice hotel called the Nan Yang Seascape (Hai Jing) Hotel, in a decent-sized room with nice appointments, including two large comfy chairs by the floor-to-ceiling/wall-to-wall window to really enjoy the ocean view and the view of Macau's skyline. Cost was about ¥400 per night; we have stayed there a number of times. It is just one block off the famous "lovers' walk" along the ocean (which stretches for miles to the north from downtown) on Shuiwan Lu only a few blocks north of the bus station.
In addition to the underground shopping mall at the bus station-border-crossing, there is another section of walking streets (no cars) just across the Changsheng Road from the underground (the downtown southern area of Zhuhai is called the Gongbei district). The next street to the west of Suiwan, called Lian Hua Lu, begins opposite the eastern exit from the underground; if you are staying at the Nan Yang Hotel, just walk south to Qiao Guang Lu, make a right, and make the next right, again. This street and a number of others that you will find as you explore the area have a lot of big and little shops, hotels, and restaurants. Personally, we like to have breakfast at Maxim's, a small restaurant just near the beginning of Lian Hua. Not only does the name remind us of Paris, but they also serve omelets, even during the luncheon hours, and the coffee is good. In about the middle of your walk through the area, there are a number of outdoor stands that sell beer, fruit juice and coffee, so that you can stop, sit, and have a drink in the shade. If you happen to go there around 6 o'clock, in the afternoon, you might also notice many buxom girls in scant attire: if they tell you that they want to be your friend, don't be naive. The little outdoor bars are, however, even a nice place to enjoy a drink or two at night, as a nice alternative to the noisy clubs. (You can also access the general area by going west on Yue Hua Street, which is right beside the Nan Yang Hai Jing Hotel). Eventually, you will probably work your way out onto Yue Hai Dong Lu. That street (which runs east-west) has a lot of bars, clubs and restaurants, including some Japanese restaurants and a Dong Bei Ren, in the Dong Hu Hotel complex (north side of the street), which also has a branch in our neighborhood, in Guangzhou. If you walk east (turn right) on Yue Hai, you will come back to Suiwan, then, Lover's Road by the sea. If you walk to the west (turn left), you will come to a major north-south road called Yingbin Nan Lu. To the north on that road (turn right) are a number of restaurants, including a large indoor-outdoor fresh seafood restaurant, on the west side of the street, up a few blocks from Yue Hai, called Xing Hai Li. We have eaten there a number of times and have thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a large selection of live fish and other seafood that you can pick out from tanks, and the prices are quite reasonable. There is another smaller seafood restaurant called Jiu Zhuo Long, on the east side of the street, just a little farther north, that we have also frequented. Also, right across the street from Xing Hai Li is an Indian restaurant called the Stone Grill, if you are not in the mood for seafood. All along this area are bars, discos and KTV's, if you would like to continue your adventures, in Zhuhai, after the dinner hour.
The main beach, Haibin swimming area is the the north of downtown by a few miles, in the Jida area, so, you will have to take a bus or a taxi (less than ¥20). You can also stay in that area at the grand Zhuhai De Han Hotel (our freind Mandy from Hong Kong says she would stay no where else, in town), and there are also many shops, hotels, and good restaurants, in the area. The Chun Xin Seafood Restaurant was recommended to us for that area, but we, personally, didn't get to try it. At the beach, you can sun, swim, or rent a pedal-paddle boat or a wave-runner. You can also take a little boat out to an relatively deserted island (population less than 5 people and about 10 dogs), off the coast for a moderate fee (we paid ¥100 per person, round-trip, including a ¥30 fee for island permit) and walk, swim and picnic, away from the crowds. When we were there several years ago, there were stone-and-mortar walkways all around the island, but we found that many had deteriorated by the Fall of 2008; still we had no real problems getting around the whole perimeter of the island. In addition to its isolation, it is filled with huge rocks and rock outcroppings (see picture, above): sometimes you have to walk under the spaces between huge boulders. It is quite breath-taking and invigorating. Just a walk around the island will take over an hour, and that is without exploring the interior peaks with temples and lookouts. There is a lovely little temple to the sea gods, built into the rock formations on the backside of the island by the beach. Don't worry! The caretaker who lives on the island will call the boat to come back and pick you up when you are finished with your explorations.
To the south of Haibin at the Jiuzhou Harbor, you can go out on a tourist boat and choose from a number of tours around the area or take a ferry to Shenzhen or Hong Kong. A little farther to the north, along the coast, is the statue of the fisher girl, which is another local attraction, and slightly farther (in the Xiangzhou district) is a small island park called Mingting, next to a boat harbor, accessible by a short bridge. The little harbor, itself, is a treat to view with all of its small traditional Chinese fishing boats, and there is also a huge Chinese party boat where you can eat or watch a show. We also noticed a small outdoor seaside restaurant called Meili Xiao Chu (Beautiful Little Chef), slightly farther up the road, which reminded us of all of the little waterside restaurants that we have found in the Chesapeake Bay and in New England, back home, although we didn't get a chance to try it.
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