We left for Guanzhou on a typically dreary Shanghai morning. During our wait for our flight at the airport, it began to rain and the temperature dropped further. Everyone who we’d told we were heading to Guanzhou told us “Guanzhou hěn rè” (Guanzhou is very hot). After 2 weeks of freezing in Shanghai, we were definitely looking forward to an increase in temperature. However, when we got there, we realised what they meant to say was that Guanzhou is “nuǎnhuo” (warm) in comparison to Shanghai. It was still winter in Guanzhou however they had more agreeable temperatures of between 12 and 16 degrees C so we were able to shed a few layers and ditch our gloves during the day.
We arrived around 8pm and were greeted by our tour guide Joy. She piled us into our tour bus and on the way to the restaurant where we were to have dinner, she gave us a brief of our itinerary for the next 3 days. She could speak english very well unlike our Shanghai guide which was a relief. Over the following 3 days we were to visit a memorial hall, museum, take a river cruise and spend a day in a city called Shen Zhen located an hour from Guanzhou. The third day was free to allow us to get some shopping done, then on day 4 we’d be leaving China.
On the way to our hotel, Joy efficiently recited some facts about Guanzhou including population, the history of the people that call Guanzhou home, the cuisine, the languages spoken and some history of the city itself. To most Africans, Guanzhou is a shopping destination. I had never thought of it as a tourist destination but I opened my mind to the idea though I was still missing Shanghai.
The next day, we were shown why Guanzhou is nicknamed the city of cars. Unlike Shanghai where majority of people rely on public transport (buses or subway trains) and motorbikes, everyone in Guanzhou seems to own a car. To make it worse, one of the two main bridges was closed for repairs so this caused traffic jams on the roads leading to the open bridge.
Guanzhou has older looking buildings and isn’t as modern looking as Shanghai. Some buildings had been renovated recently however most of them still looked ancient. The most striking thing about Guanzhou though in comparison to Shanghai was the greenery. In some parts there was so much green bush it felt like the countryside rather than the center of a busy city.
We headed to the Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall after our breakfast around 9am. Sun Yat Sen was the first president of China and the founder of the Republic of China which was founded in 1912. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is an octagon-shaped building and was built over a 2 year period (1929-1931) in memory of Sun Yat-Sen. It spans 71 meters without pillars, housing a large stage and seats 3,240 people. It seemed to be undergoing repairs when we arrived however the interior was still accessible for visitors.
There were a lot of local older people taking a walk, playing with their toddler grandchildren, or practicing Tai Chi in the garden which was fascinating to us. I managed to take a quick video of an old lady in the midst of her workout as we were leaving.
After taking tons more pictures, Joy ushered us into the hall and demonstrated the uniqueness of the hall’s design. If you stand on the stage and speak at a decently loud volume, without shouting or screaming and without a microphone, you will be clearly audible from any point in the hall. She said it was something to do with the hall’s ceiling design.
After a while, Joy set us free to visist the gift shops within the hall and take more pictures. After we were done, we got back on to our tour bus and headed for our next destination: Yuexiu Park, which I will detail in the next “Black girl in China” post.