It’s said that the fog in London can be thick as pea soup though I reckon the Pearl River Delta can give it a run for its money. March is the doldrums for weather in Guangzhou. Pulling the curtains back each day reveals a white canvas enveloping much of the terrain before me.
Only once have I witnessed fog in London like this, so dense Battersea Park on the opposite side of the Thames was made invisible but it’s rare. Here it is like Groundhog Day. Sometimes coupled by a light drizzle the mysterious veil seems impenetrable and unshakable. This in turn can have an affect on an already lethargic internet experience.
So what to do on days such as these? It was time to explore more of my host city. The bleached sky, its speckled spray and mist married to a momentarily mild temperature make conditions fair for a walkabout. After all, it won’t be long before the monsoonal summer heat and grey skied thunder claps return.
Major Chinese cities have vast art zones usually refurbished from old factory units. In Beijing it’s 798 in Shenzhen it’s the Loft, in Guangzhou there are a few I’ve heard about as well as a cat cafe! On a mid-month Wednesday I set about finding the first of my selected facilities. The interestingly named TIT is easiest to find and the same complex I visited three years’ ago while based in Shenzhen.
Since then it has evolved and like the Loft there’s no shortage of eateries to choose from. There is however a distinct lack of art as I glide over the moist red slats of brick chosen to pave its walkways. According to my map there are two further options to the South though both remain hidden. It turns out one is in the process of relocation. With waning legs I return home beaten by geography.
The following day I decide to take the same metro line (8) in the other direction towards the cat cafe! Alighting at Xiaogang I Somehow manage to disorientate myself and eventually stumble across another metro station which lines me up better with Jiangnanxi Dong Lu, the road with the cafe on. True to its name, ‘More than Meow’ has dogs great and small inside and parrots fibreglass and real outside.
For the privilege of dining with fury friends you can expect expense! However as it’s such an Asian novelty I just have to indulge. First things first though and my shoes need sanitising. I enter to what looks more like a grand hotel lobby though smaller and with many of said critters slouching around including one feline that looks like Grumpy cat, actually make that two.
After a long hard look at their digital menu (which makes sense when you consider a normal one would have been chewed scratched and toileted on multiple times as is evident from the stained sofas in the place) I decide on a mocha and chocolate bread. When it appears before me and I begin to tuck in one of the smaller dogs squats to defecate on the floor in front of me. Now that is a view not for the feint hearted and left a strange taste in my mouth so to speak.
Then came the swallowing of hair. Please god I thought, let whatever that was be a part of the culinary process and not an animal hair. Yes, eating in a cat cafe is an utterly unique experience. By now there were pools of urine on the floor and it then occurred to me how much sanitiser they must go through. No wonder the food is overpriced.
Afterwards I set about locating another loft – what is it with lofts and art? This one is suffixed with a 345 and should be a stone’s throw away. The fog had lifted a touch but its location remained misty. Either it didn’t exist, or my map was as much use as the dog’s faeces! Consulting the net informed me it doesn’t open till 8pm, is on the fourth floor of an apartment block and is ‘difficult to find.’
Instead of running myself ragged I chance on another park with Bamboo trees and after disorientating myself for a second time in one day my fatigued limbs arrived at ICON; yet another of Guangzhou’s huge modernist shopping blocks. A cursory glance at the clock (it was the beginning of rush hour) ensured my heading home. Next uniquely Asian thing to try… having my feet nibbled by fish!