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Paul & Tracey's Travels
5th Jul 2015 - China
Flight to Guangzhou and a strange European style Island

Another early to start to catch an 8am flight East to a city on the South China Sea called Guangzhou.

Guangzhou

Guangzhou also known as Canton, and less commonly as Kwangchow is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in South China. Located on the Pearl River, about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, Guangzhou is the third largest Chinese city and the largest city in South Central China. In 2014 the city's administrative area was estimated to have a population of 14 million.

The flight was just one hour, so we were exiting the airport by 9.30am. The heat he is stifling. The temperature today is 33C but the humidity was over 90% and you sweat even in an air conditioned environment. Once in the bus, it was a 45 minute drive to the city centre. This is a big city, and like Shanghai, has a well developed series of expressways and flyovers to get you into the vicinity of where you want to go, before going down on the local roads. It rained briefly as we were driving in, but the rest of the day was dry and there was even a brief period of sun, but you would not want to go out in it.

This is the home of Cantonese, which is the second most widely spoken Chinese language behind Mandarin which is taught in all schools. An amazing 105 million people live in this province alone, and this SE corner of China was the first area of the country to be opened up to the outside world in 1978, as an experiment to see if the new government policies would work. It is now one of the most educated and well off areas of the country, and the people from here are some of the most travelled. There re more than 30 Universities and colleges in this city.

Our first stop was an old house that used to belong to the Chen clan, and is now owned by the government and houses the Guangzhou Folk Arts Museum. It has a lot of museum pieces and is also a nice tranquil place in the middle of the city.

Shamian Island

Next we drove a few more minutes to get to Shamian Island. This is a real oddity. It is a piece of land not more than 400m wide at its widest point, which is bordered by the Pearl River on one side and a man made moat on the other. From the 1850s to 1970s it belonged to the British, and all the building were built by the British and French in a European style. The buildings all now belong to the Government and are either public buildings or apartments that have really cheap rents. Traffic is restricted and there are only a couple of shops. The streets are really esplanades for strolling and admiring the architecture, which as it was Sunday, a lot of the locals were doing. There were also lots of people dressed for weddings and having photos taken - it is quite photogenic. It is also a place where the locals come to do Tai Chi, and play mahjong etc.

Orphans

We saw quite a lot of Westerners here with Chinese babies. Not sure why we have seen them here particularly, however there is a big trade in Westerners adopting Chinese babies, which started when a lot of baby girls were orphaned as a result of the one child policy and parents wanting male offspring. Nowadays, it also includes Hildesheim orphaned due to disabilities, again partly linked to the one child policy.

Then it was a short drive to our hotel, for an early finish. The hotel is 27 floors high and has some good views, however there is currently a building under construction in the city, which when finished will be 0.6 km high !!

Tomorrow, we take a ferry from Guangzhou to Hong Kong.

Next: Final hours in China and a ferry trip to Hong Kong
Previous: Cruise down the River Li to see amazing limestone scenery


Diary Photos

Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

Folk Arts Museum, Guangzhou, China

Folk Arts Museum, Guangzhou, China

Folk Arts Museum, Guangzhou, China

Too hot for anything, Guangzhou, China

Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

Local musicians, Guangzhou, China

Skyline from Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

View from our hotel, Guangzhou, China


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