Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guangzhou: Cell Cities

It was fascinating to me, as I explored some of the side streets along the Pearl River, to see so many buildings dedicated to selling various electronic devices... mostly cell / smart phones. Inside, you'll find hundreds of specialty stores or booths. Some deal in certain parts, such as batteries, and some specialize in certain devices, such as hand-held languange translators. Alot of Chinese apparently love to customize their phones, and the variety available to do so is amazing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guangzhou: Zhu Jiang

Zhu Jiang = Pearl River... China's third longest river, after the Yangtze and Yellow, flows through Guangzhou. I spent an entire afternoon and evening exploring beside it, simply letting my curiosity lead the way. The shops, seafood restaurants (pick one that displays large tanks), promenades, and bridges along the Pearl River are worthy of your time, but I must be honest, Guangzhou is my least favorite city in China. Vast. Dirty. Congested. I would recommend only one day and night there if you have Baiyun International Airport as your connection to other destinations (ie. Nanning, Liuzhou, or Guilin). Make it your final day before returning home... I came down with a cough the evening of my walk, likely due to the extremely polluted air, and it took a few weeks to get rid of it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guangzhou: Shamian Isle

Shamian Island is a very small enclave spanning only a few blocks (bordered on the south by the Pearl River) that had been divided into two concessions, given to France and England, by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. I spent one night at the Guangdong Victory Hotel there ~ an elegant massage and spa is next door ~ and the White Swan Hotel, perhaps Guangzhou's most famous hotel, is there as well. Both hotels are ideal departure spots for a day exploring beside the Pearl River. All of the original Shamian Island colonial European architecture remains, flanked by trees, tranquil parks, and pedestrian avenues... thus attracting the always busy Guangzhou wedding photographers. In fact, I probably encountered at least 10 couples posing during my late morning walk. Weddings and wedding photography are definitely big business in China!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Guangzhou: Yuan Xuan Taoist Temple

North of Guangzhou is the district of Huadu (just west of the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport). Not much going on there, although like most Chinese population hubs they do have a beautiful and thriving People's Park. But on the western outskirts of Huadu is a gem that somehow has escaped the average China tourist agenda... the largest Taoist temple in Guangdong Province, the Yuan Xuan Taoist Temple. Wow. One layer after another of artisitic majesty, and the new areas still under construction (behind the huge bronze statue of Confucius) while I was there are likely now finished ~ I visited in September 2010. To put the photos below in context, it was 95 degrees that afternoon, probably why I was one of only a few guests walking the grounds at that time. I can assure you, many visual treasures await inside the various buildings, but photos are not allowed.