The First of Many Trips to Guangzhou (Canton)

Guangzhou, along with Beijing, Tianjin, Chonqing and Shanghai, is one of China’s ‘National Central Cities’. It is one of the most prosperous and populous cities in China as evidenced by the fact it has the largest GDP per capita of any city in China besides Hong Kong and a city proper population in excess of 12 million. This is due to it’s advantageous trade position on the Pearl river (wikipedia’s great, isn’t it!).

We're due west of Guangzhou, about the same distance as Foshan

It was on our return from football that we decided to go to Guangzhou, seeing as we had a free day and Austin offered to drive. The only downside is that we were to meet at 9, which doesn’t sound too bad until you consider our bodies were telling us it was around 2am!

Austin drove us to the metro station, which was probably as close as one could get to the centre by car. We bought the equivalent of an Oyster card which allowed us to travel for about 3 yuan (roughly 30p) a journey – take note, London Transport! While travelling on the metro, we got stares, but not nearly the same level as the area around the school. Nonetheless, we still had to wait until late in the day to see another westerner. From the metro station we negotiated the bustling shopping streets, impressed by the sheer scale of the place. Along one small street they were selling whole scorpions and fried octopus tentacles. Our lunch wasn’t quite so exciting. Austin ordered us some traditional dumplings for lunch. They were stuffed with prawns or another unidentified meat. They were pretty tasty! And after an excellent coffee somewhere else, we hopped back on the metro.

We went to a Martyr’s park, which contained a memorial to the lives lost during the revolution (which one, I couldn’t be sure). It also contained a boating lake, people sitting around playing chinese instruments and a practising choir. It also contained a museum which we looked around. The vague English translations flew in the face of what I had been reading in a biography of Chairman Mao before I left (though Mao wasn’t mentioned throughout the museum as far as I could tell – very strange. It would have been unwise to bring this book to China, as it reveals heavily suppressed truths about the foundations of communism in China). Before we left we caught another lunch (the first was very early!). On all restaurant tables sits a pot of a chilli concoction. The one in this restaurant, in all that I have tried, can only be rivalled by ‘insanity sauce’, which has to be tasted to be believed! I was told, as my mouth steamed, that Indians buy Chinese chillies because of their superior potency.

Utterly exhausted by our day and a lack of sleep the night before, we headed back to our apartments in Shimen school.  Our return wasn’t particularly well timed. It coincided with the two-hour slot in which the children (who live at the school from Sunday to Friday) could be dropped off back at school. Just as with sports events, the arrival of thousands (this is a school of 3,000 children) of people in one place in a short space of time had a major effect on the traffic in the surrounding area. We took it easy for the remainder of the day, trying to block out the noise of excitable children.

p.s. I should have mentioned earlier in this blog that it is easy to receive e-mail updates if you would like. Just click on ‘Follow’ in the bottom right hand corner and enter your e-mail address. It also does a world of good for my self-esteem to have lots of followers!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:09:50

    Just spent a few minutes catching up with how you’re doing, sounds like you’re having a blast. Can you try to find out how they make chow mein so tasty please, I hear it’s an ancient Chinese secret…

    Reply

  2. Hannah
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 19:39:26

    3000 children heh? Reckon you’ve got your work cut out there. Every one of them a cut glass accent please!

    Reply

  3. Margaret Buchanan
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 19:36:37

    Hi Life is certainly moving at a pace for you now Chris, but we will run to keep up.
    Margaret

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Gaoming « chaileaves

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