Guangzhou is astonishing. We are staying in our host’s spare apartment on the 12th floor of building V in a massive apartment complex called ‘Regal Riviera’. From our window we can see the river, and the ultra modern, fast growing city. The city sparkles at night. It seems like every building is lit in rainbow colours that swirl and change constantly. Our apartment is a short walk along the river to the television tower (most spectacularly lit), with a subway station under it.
Yesterday we explored the city. The subway is super easy – airconditioned, very clean, orderly, signs and announcements in English. We feel very brave and capable cruising to our chosen destinations! We even had a go on it during peak hour today! Everyone is very patient and pleasant even when they could scratch an itch on their nose with your ear!
The city has a fascinating mix of old and new. There are bicycles, rickshaws and mopeds buzzing gently everywhere, often with teetering loads of boxes, rubbish, spare parts, families. They share the roads with many sleek and phat Mercedes, BMWs, and Jags. We are gobsmacked by the wealth surrounding us. Shopping and advertising are on overdrive -noticeably for KFC, bras, western style toilets, and beauty products. We visited a 6 story book shop yesterday, with bonus sunglasses, watches and adventure gear for sale. There is definite style and creativity defying the ‘cultural imperialism’. People dress with impressive, quirky, elegant flair. Book shops have large, intriguing shelves of political-looking journals, detailed design resource books, fabulous graphic novels/illustrated books, great art books. I would love to study contemporary Chinese art, writing, pop culture!
I am also really enjoying the relaxed, communal, public spaces, street stalls and alleyways. People use public space in an easy, open, cheerful way. Young couples, groups of teenagers and families walk along the river in the evening, holding hands, doing gentle stretches and exercises, chatting. We walked through a huge park in the centre of the city today, with every bench, path and grassy patch being used for enthusiastic card games, hacky sack, toddlers on bikes and ballroom dancing! Beside the school are older, run down apartments with busy food stalls, moped mechanics with tiny shop-fronts spilling spare parts, old men making noodles and drinking beer. I walked into the labyrinth inside this apartment block and found an exciting network of narrow lane-ways, a net of wires overhead, washing drying in every window, fresh vegetables and fruit sold from doorways.