Valentine's Day is another one of those holidays that is not celebrated, yet still celebrated in Asia.

While the atmosphere doesn't reach the Western onslaught of pink hearts and candy, it's still possible to see blushing couples carrying bouquets of roses and to find big heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.

Dan and I decided we'd have a day out in Guangzhou, which is a short distance from Foshan, to celebrate our eighth Valentine's Day together.

We started the day with the lunch buffet at FOODS, at the Ritz-Carlton.  Okay, backtracking a little, we started with Bloody Mary's in the lounge and then the meal.  Mostly, we planned it because it was fun to say that we were "luncheoning at the Ritz, dahling" in fakey British accents and the lunch buffet cost about 250 RMB (about 40 USD) each, which was in our price range.  However, while of course bringing up the Ritz in random conversation for weeks is priceless, the buffet was fantastic. The only better one I can think of was in Las Vegas for my birthday in 2010, but we'd been drinking all day and my memory of that one might not be accurate.

The best part of the buffet, surprisingly, was the desserts. Usually at buffets you find one or two good things and then you're so stuffed by the end that the desserts are unnecessary.  Not this buffet. We liked everything we tried, and we tried almost everything. The ox tongue wasn't a favorite, mostly because we misunderstood and were expecting it just to be beef.  But the desserts, man oh man, the desserts. They made hot chocolate cakes a la mode, served up cold guava soup and had amazing tiramisu.

Also, at the end, you could take a complimentary box of gummy candies.  Outstanding.

After such an awesome lunch, we didn't do much for the afternoon. We'd found a good deal on a hotel on Agoda.com, which is my favorite booking site at the moment, and watched TV and digested until the evening, when we took a walk around the Zhujiang New Town area and the Canton Tower and had dinner and drinks at The Brew.

Not a traditional Valentine's Day, but what an amazing buffet!
 
[Editor's note: Please welcome Dan, the usually silent "kangaroo" part of "Alaskankangaroo," as he guest posts on his excursion to watch the last local Chinese Basketball Association game of the season.]


By Dan P.



Tonight I went to watch the final local game of the basketball season, the Foshan Long Lions versus the Qing Dao Double Stars.

While I am not a huge basketball fan, when I was a boy we would watch the local team, the Perth Wildcats, on TV. and I would get excited over the games I watched. During these games, I learnt the rules and some of the strategies of how to play basketball. So, when I saw a poster in the CITS travel agency window advertising the local Foshan Team, the Long Lions (lit. Dragon Lions), I knew I had to go and enjoy my first live game of basketball.

Tonight's game was close until the end, with the Long Lions winning in the game 107 - 101. There were a couple of calls that made the audience erupt in jeers and feet stomping! There were even a few slam dunks. The fans all beat their plastic clappers together, which was entertaining to watch too.

While televised basketball, especially NBA, is popular all over China, I asked a lot of people I knew if they had gone to see the Long Lions play live and they said they hadn't. This is probably because the team isn't at the top of the ladder. However the game I saw was exciting and fun.

There were even cheerleaders! Yes, little dancing princesses in pink bikinis twirling pom poms! The cheerleaders were ready to entertain at every break and time out—though the music was a little dated and uninspired. Also, everyone standing up for the Chinese national anthem at the beginning of the game was great! I like it when I see people being proud of their country.

The season's over now, but next season, you can get tickets from Qionghua Da Ju Yuan,( 佛山琼花大剧院 ) it's on Zumiao Lu. Just ask for lan qiu piao - basketball tickets. I got third row seats for 180 RMB. VIP tickets, complete with player's sweat, are 500RMB each and basic tickets in the back somewhere start from 60 RMB.


I think everyone should go see the Foshan Long Lions, and take their friends with them! We should support the local team, and even if you are only mildly interested in basketball, it's a live sporting opportunity afterall and it's the CBA—just as important here as the NBA is in the USA. You just never know. You may get to watch the next Yao Ming or Jeremy Lin in action.


Long Lions 加油 jia you! Long Lions 加油 jia you!