A Travellerspoint blog

Strange to be White in Coloured Guangzhou City

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, After spending a wonderfully relaxed New Years with Luo Wei in my tiny city of Shangzhou, we caught the bus to Xian City and after arriving we headed to the nearest Train Ticket Office and joined the lines with the many hundreds who were already there to purchase tickets home for Spring Festival. Believe me, after four years experience this was a very short line and over the next week or two the hundreds will soon turn into thousands! Spring Festival, it is the time of year a billion people all get the same holiday and will spend days on board anything that moves to get them back to their family home. Everything that moves will then stop and the entire country will then become one huge family feast and fire cracker and then everything and everyone will begin to move again but back in the direction they came....more on that in a few weeks! It is a very special time of the year for millions and millions of Chinese as for many of them it will be the only time they will see their family for the year. Many men from the poor areas of China have no choice but to move to a different area that holds more prospects of employment and most of the time it will be half the country away. On top of that you have millions of students who have all attend a university in a completely different province than where their family is. Add all of these together along with silly buggers like me who simply want to 'travel'. You then have a whopping nightmare on your hands. The transport system in China is more than stretched to its limits at this time of year but even over the past four years I have noticed great changes that have made things easier and fairer for the people. Migrant Workers, those who must find lowest of the lowest paid employment in a different area than their families, now have their own lines at the Ticket Offices. These are the guys who do the shitest of the shitest jobs available to man. They work the longest hours for the least pay and if in Australia we were even to think about creating such jobs, or even such a salary we'd be locked up.

It is also these men who lose their entire families in natural disasters such as the Sichuan earthquake. They are away earning next to nothing to send as much home as possible whilst living on the streets to survive.

There are nearly or maybe even over three million people in Guangzhou city alone who are unregistered and migrant workers make up most of that number. That is more than the entire population of Melbourne Australia who are working under conditions that even a NIKE Factory (as we call them) wouldn't even allow.

Also thankfully the students around the country also have the same benefits for the trains for a certain time. There are carriages and even entire trains put aside to move these people to and from their destinations. After an hour in line we had only moved two steps so I thought to try the hostel to see if they do train bookings. When we got there we found they didn't so that put an end to Plan B. I then figured why not put Plan C into action and try the small train ticket window at the bank on the main road right near the KFC just up from the Bell Tower. When we got there both our jaws hit the ground as there was only ten people in line. Within five minutes I left with a ticket to Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province two days later. So, moving on.....Jim Beams at the hostel, sleeping, happily chatting and at seven on Sunday morning I left Luo Wei to sleep away the morning's hotel money (in China your accommodation ends at midday). I then caught Bus No: 603 from the south gate to the train station. I boarded train K84 - Xian to Guangzhou and was sleeping soundly by nine. I slept and read the entire journey (mostly slept) and by eleven today I was leaving the train station in a van bound for the Jun Shan Hotel which is situated in the Sanyuanli District of Guangzhou City. Why the Sanyuanli District? Guangzhou is a bloody expensive city and I love to walk! Also when in Canton City, you don't want to miss a thing, so walk, walk, walk! Below is a run down I put together on Guangzhou city followed by my first thoughts on the city after spending the afternoon and evening walking around, getting lost, finding myself to then lose myself again time after time. That of course is my favourite part of being in any new city. Maybe I should rename my blog; 'The Adventures of the Lost and Found' and when it becomes a multi-billion dollar nothing, this page would have to take place in Africa! <u>It's Strange to be White in a suddenly Coloured China!</u></b> I absolutely love Guangzhou even though I've only been here for a short time. I can't say it started off that way though. In fact arriving in Guangzhou was quite bizarre really. None of what follows is meant to be racial at all but how totally tripped out was I when I left my hotel in the Sanyuanli and was suddenly walking amongst thousands of Black Africans. It honestly was like walking onto a movie set by mistake. Black, white, red, yellow, it really doesn't matter to me. But if you're Green, well maybe even I'd question your motives behind the friendship before allowing it to move on. Seriously though, I don't know how to explain it without it sounding racist or bad, but it was one of the most bizarre moments in my life. Over the past four years I've barely seen a black person, the occasional one here and there a few times a year but I guess there just isn't that many of them here as teachers or tourists. I honestly almost began freaking out because the Africans easily out numbered the Chinese and I simply stopped and stared and began wondering if I was actually dreaming or had had a 'trip' snuck into the coffee I had back at the hotel. It wasn't the fact that they were black, it was more the fact that there were so many of them and that they weren't Chinese or Asian in anyway. It then became more bizarre as when I walked into a restaurant I found not a single Chinese person in there. As it was a 'pick and point' place and lunch had been over for a few hours I headed into the next one to find the same thing, not a single Chinese person. I felt like I was in one of those movies about early America when a black person walks into a restaurant or bar and everyone and everything suddenly stops. It really was like that! My guess is that not many white foreigners stay in this part of town because when I did walk into both restaurants things did stop and people did stare. The difference was they were full of warm smiles and some even asked what I doing, where I was from, how long have I been in China etc. This all happened in the matter of minutes so at this time I still couldn't comprehend what was going on around me. Nearly all the Chinese I know and have met have never seen a black person before and here I was with thousands of Africans around me. So how strange I found it when I realised that none of the Chinese were staring at the Black People, they all stared at me just like in every other part of China I've been to. It suddenly felt even stranger being a white person in a now suddenly coloured China![/i] When I left Sanyuanli Area I found myself back in a totally Chinese area and I began texting friends trying to find out what was happening. Many of them told me to 'be very careful' etc as there was a large crime rate in that area. I received a call from a Chinese friend in Shanghai who filled me in on the story. The call came later in the day so I was left walking around for hours bewildered. In Guangzhou city there are many trading warehouses and 99% of everything within those huge multi-story buildings goes to Africa. Just like any country in the world offers a 'promise a better financial future' people are drawn to it. Sadly though most of them are here illegally and after arriving they can't find employment so even sadder still is the fact that their own government won't help them return home. On a more happy side, many of them do actually make quite a bit of money here and even happier still is that they help those who have no employment survive. Anyhow enough of the bizarre![/i] After grabbing a Chinese/English map from one of the sidewalk drink/newspaper 'You Buy You Buy' people, I spent the rest of the afternoon walking all the way from the Sanyuanli area down to the Pearl River taking in a couple of sites along the way which include the two below. I then spent several hours walking along the famous Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) saying its name over and over again from Haizhu Square all the way down to Shamian Island and then across the river and all the way back up to the Haiyin Bridge. The Pearl River, the Pearl River, I'm in Canton walking along the Pearl River! Yes I am! Slap! Slap! Slap! It was another one of those moments but not as bizarre as earlier! Beers N Noodles toya......shane PS: Photos can be found below the following text. ________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by World Hemispheres The album was the super sexy 'Fresh Global Sounds' ________________________________________________ <u>Guangzhou</u><u> (from the LP, wikipedia and me)</u></b></b> Guangzhou&ocirc;u is the capital of Guangdong Province in southern China and has a population of over 10 million (The official registered population is 7.3 million, with over 3 million unregistered residents). It is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau. In the era of tea clippers, Guangzhou was known in the West as "Canton". The food and the language of the area are still known as "Cantonese". The city is famous for foreign trade and business, and holds China's largest trade fair, the Canton Fair. However, in between the seemingly endless skyscrapers, shopping malls and building sites there is a lot of culture and history, and while Guangzhou is not usually high on the list of Asian tourist destinations, it is amazing how much the city actually has to offer. At first sight, Guangzhou appears to be less a city that's developing, and rather one that's about to explode. Every corner seems packed with high-rise buildings, overpasses, and people running marathons. It can be overwhelming, and the initial instinct of many travelers is to get out as soon as possible. However, those that overcome this urge and stay longer will discover a gentler and more personable side to the city. As a major entry point for overseas culture for many centuries, foreigners are not the anomaly here that they are in other Chinese cities. Consequently, travelers are afforded more personal space and freedom. In addition, tucked away in the back streets, the old Guangzhou of traditional neighborhoods still moves at an age-old pace, with families and friends often sitting outdoors enjoying tea and banter. Guangzhou also boasts the largest urban park in China, an island of refurbished colonial buildings and some world class galleries and exhibition spaces. In addition, possibly due to the distance from the country's political centers, the citizens of Guangzhou have developed a laid-back and play-hard approach to life. Today, Guangzhou is recognized as one of China's most prosperous, liberal, and cosmopolitan cities. Formerly known as Canton in the West. The city of Guangzhou has a history dating back roughly 2,500 years. Although the actual origins of the city are lost in the midst of time, the most popular legend tells of five celestial beings riding into the area that is now Guangzhou on five rams and carrying sheaves of rice. The celestials bestowed blessings on the land and offered the sheaves to the people of the city as a symbol of prosperity and abundance. After the celestials left, the rams turned into stone, and Guangzhou quickly developed into an affluent and influential city. Due to this legend, Guangzhou has gained several popular nicknames: Yangcheng (City of Rams), Suicheng (Sheaves of Rice City) and Wuyangcheng (City of Five Rams). In addition, due to the abundance of flowers along the city's main thoroughfares, Guangzhou is often referred to as Huacheng (City of Flowers). According to historical records, the city was built in 214BC and was known as Panyu . The name Guangzhou actually referred to the prefecture in which Panyu was located. However, as the city grew, the name Guangzhou was adopted for the city itself. As a major sea port, Guangzhou's history is full of color. In 786 the city was sacked by the Persians and in 1711 the British East India Company established a trading post here. In 1842 the Treaty of Nanjing was signed, which designated the city as one of the five ports that allowed business transactions with foreign nations. Guangzhou was also part of the so called "Maritime Silk Road" that linked southern China with India, South-East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. As a result of its links with the Middle East, a mosque was established in the city in 627, and a small Muslim community continues to live in Guangzhou to this day. Additionally, the sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism was born in Guangzhou and taught the famous Platform Sutra in the city. Today, there is a Buddhist monastery to the north of the city and Guangzhou has maintained a strong connection with this school of Buddhism. <u>The Temple of the Five Immortals</u></b> Found on Huifu Lilu and costing only five Yuan to enter is Wuxian Guan, also known as the Temple of The Five Immortals. This Taoist temple was built in the Ming Dynasty in AD1377 (AD1368 to 1644) and was named after the five mythical founders of Guangzhou. The mythical five are supposedly three men and two women and one of them also left a mythical foot print which can be found within the temples very green and leafy grounds. So it is said! One day, Five Immortals flew to Guangzhou, all with corn cob in hand and each riding a goat. When they arrived they gave the corn to some local residents and flew away. The five goats then become stones and have stayed there till this day. In order to commemorate the benefaction of the five immortals, later generations constructed the temple and gave it the name of 'Wuxian Taoist Temple'. The Taoist Temple of the Five Immortals. Guangzhou was also once called Yangcheng or, Goat City). During the Ming Dynasty, a bell tower was built near the temple and was destroyed by a fire in 1864 but then re-built. What you see today is the reconstructed Ming Tower and I have been told that you can actually climb the tower to the original Ming Dynasty bell. The bell weighs a huge five tons but sadly it was closed when I was there so I had to look up at it from the down aide. Well worth half an hour or more of your time and it is easy to get to. Simply catch the metro to either Gongyuanqian Station or Ximenkou Station. <u>Renmin Gongyuan or The Peoples Park</u> </b> The cities Peoples Park can be found between Zhongshan Wulu and Dongfeng Zhonglu and like most Peoples Park's in China (there is one in every town and city!) this one is well worth a visit. There are so many beautiful and strangely shaped and twisted trees to be found along with dozens of old folk gathered together playing play chess, badminton or one of many Chinese musical instruments you will hear when you arrive at the park. As an added extra you could also join one of the many dancing groups that can always be found in a Peoples Park. The standards are Line Dancing, Ballroom Dancing and one or two others.

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk


Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Five Immortals Temple, Peoples Park &#38;amp; City Walk

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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