This is what we woke up to this morning – the astoundingly beautiful view from our 75th floor room at the Four Seasons Hotel, Guangzhou (opening 1st August!) located within the IFC tower…Guangzhou putting on her best face for us and basking in the morning sunshine. How can you not get excited about the coming week when starting the day with this inspiring view?
A major downside of being a hotelier’s wife is the long hours of waiting for your husband to come home from work. Back when Herr Hubby and I first got engaged, a well-meaning girlfriend married to a fellow hotelier, told me: “Welcome to the club! You’re about to embark on a lifetime of waiting…” Rather stark, isn’t it?
But the life of a hotelier’s wife does have its many perks too. One of these is having insider access to a hotel even before it has opened, akin to getting a backstage pass in a theatre or a movie or television production set (alas, minus the thrill of meeting Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp!)
The weeks and days leading up to a hotel’s opening are uniquely memorable, fraught with drama, suspense, excitement, glamour, frenzied hard work and unparalleled tension. People have been known to collapse and end up in hospital from sheer stress and exhaustion, which actually happened to a chef I used to work with. Attention, TV producers out there, one of you seriously needs to do a reality TV series about the “back-of-the-house” theatrics and shenanigans that happen during a hotel opening…STAT! For sure, you won’t need a Kardashian to make sure it will be a big hit in the ratings.
In my previous life, I did two hotel openings back-to-back and probably never will again. It led me to a career burn-out and the realization that life is too short for such prolonged misery.
Herr Hubby is currently in the unenviable position of being part of the team responsible for opening the Four Seasons hotel in Guangzhou, located in the city’s tallest skyscraper and the Central Business District‘s iconic showpiece, the 100-storey International Finance Centre (IFC). Because of his long hours at work these days, we’re currently making the hotel our home base while I shuttle back to our real home in the daytime.
Here are some astounding snapshots of the city view, from our room on the 75th floor:
The Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou officially opens for guests on 1st August. Check out the hotel’s newsletter, In The Know: Guangzhou, here.
Today I achieved an incredibly significant milestone in my 9 years of living in China. I finally mustered up enough courage to ride on the local public bus – all by myself.
Can you believe it? Nine years in Beijing & Shanghai…where I mostly schlepped it in cabs & the Metro (the latter in Shanghai at least)…and never set foot inside a bus.
Total fear of the unknown.
Today I decided to face that fear head-on, walked to the bus stop outside our compound and got on the 194 bus. Our real estate agent had previously told me this is the bus that would take me from our home to IFC – the office tower where Herr Hubby works. Ok, not exactly the most adventurous itinerary but hey, I’m taking baby steps here.
Of course as I boarded, I had no idea how to swipe my transport card to pay (just like in Hong Kong & Shanghai, we use stored value cards for public transport here). I tried putting it on top of the meter and the driver eyed me with a look that said:”Here comes another clueless gweipor.”
He then proceeded to teach me (in excellent English, I might add) how to use my card, in front of an entire busload of amused passengers. Once my RMB 2 (approximately 30 US cents) had been deducted, I was free to sit and enjoy the ride as I wished. It was a beautiful morning and an excellent way to see the city!
There was even a moment when I bonded with my fellow bus passengers. A flashy lime-green Lamborghini pulled up in front of the gigantic China Minsheng Bank building in the Central Business District. From the driver’s seat emerged a young man, who couldn’t have been older than 20, in a Gap t-shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops, yapping on his iPhone. All of us in the bus stared at the car and at the young man as he sauntered into the bank and then we all looked at one another with a smile. I knew what was going through everyone’s minds…Yes, this is the New China. And for most of those people on the bus today, that young man and his car was the perfect illustration of The Chinese Dream.
By the way, wouldn’t you know it…all bus stop signs and stop announcements were bi-lingual, in Chinese and English. There had been nothing for me to be afraid of at all! What a liberating experience. I’m totally taking the bus more, from now on.