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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 44: 7 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysTaken to the White Swan Hotel. This is the real thing. A real replica of a Western luxuty hotel complete with bell hops, receptionists dressed like lady barristers, a floor of polished granite, a marble-topped reception desk and a hanging gallery of trailing plants surrounding a waterfall, four storeys high, that spills into a little garden with bridges and paths that lead to the coffee shop. I sink gratefully down beside a gurgling pond, in which goldfish laze comfortingly. A lady barrister approaches and waves me away, 'No sit here!'.

A constant stream of ruddy faced, wide-eyed visitors perambulate around the lobby. Some of them are soldiers, some family groups up from the country who gaze about in awe. They all gravitate towards a peach tree made entirely of jade, and here they are photographed. There is a card beside this remarkable object with information in English. It is called, a little baldly: 'Big Sculptured Jade Article'. The blurb continues effusively. 'It has more than a thousand jade peaches and 15,000 jade leaves. It is beautifully shaped and it looks really lifelike. It is the biggest potted landscape in our country at present.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 44
  • Date: 7 November
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Guangzhou
  • Book page no: 144

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