Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Getting to know Guangzhou

Guangzhou, the capital of Guandong province in Southern China, is the host of the current Asian Games--an event that doesn't seem to be generating much press or hoopla. Bakit kaya? Anyway, the mention of the city in the measly coverage I've come across reminded me that in February 2005, I had been to Guangzhou--and I have pictures of the trip I've never shared here before, since in 2005 I wasn't blogging yet. A few photos went into the travel piece I wrote for the paper; most went into a CD file that saw the light of day again only yesterday.

I'm on another trip for a few days, so lemme leave you with these for now. You might know the people I went with on this, my first trip to China. (Hint: One of them is now one of the country's most popular and influential bloggers.)

From my March 13, 2005 travel feature in the Inquirer: The ancient city [of Guangzhou], once called Canton by British colonists, has become the country's premier trade and commerce hub, a hustle-and-bustle counterpoint to the historical, cultural and political heartland that is Beijing and the cosmopolitan center of high finance that is Shanghai. As a major world port, Guangzhou is seen as the most culturally open-minded of China's major cities, and its residents more adventurous and freewheeling.

We were billeted in a hotel in Huanshidong Road, central Guangzhou, the lobby directly connected to a swanky shopping mall carrying the ritziest global fashion brands. Clearly, this was no longer the Communist China of old. A short distance away was the Philippine consulate, housed in that skyscraper in the third photo. We were told the weather would be like Baguio's--14 degrees C at night. It was more like 4 degrees C; my first time to experience winter (or at least the tailend of it), and I had only a couple of lightweight jackets with me. Fortunately...

Ang mura ng bilihin sa Guangzhou! Because it's one of China's manufacturing hubs (many of the China-made goods you see in Divisoria and 168 Mall are from Guangzhou and the rest of Guandong province), everything--especially garments, shoes, jewelry and leather accessories--is cheap at local Yuan (Rmb) prices. The first two photos are Shang Xia Jiu Street--Guangzhou's Divisoria, where I managed to buy a couple of thick, comfy sweatshirts to tide me through the frigid days.

The more upscale Beijing Road (the one festooned with lanterns) is the city's Greenhills, if you will--prices are a bit higher, branded goods more prominent, the city's young, trendy denizens in profusion. See that rectangular space covered by glass in the third photo? It protects a historic spot--excavated remnants of the earliest known walls and settlements in ancient Guangzhou. Shoppers can peer into the covered pit and know a bit of the city's storied past.

A quieter, more traditional part of Guangzhou. We had limited time to walk around the city, but the parts we saw had lots of greenery, wide parks even, in them. And quaint eateries; they're everywhere, exactly like the ones we have here--rather dim, dinghy, greasy affairs, but, at least the one we tried, after walking for what seemed like an hour to get to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, offering food that was as distinctive and flavorful.

Our media group in Guangzhou: former ANC news editor and now entrepreneur and Dulaang UP actor Joel Saracho; a portly me--yaiks!--made more suman-like by the damn Chinese sweatshirt (magkaliwanagan lang, this was five years ago, hoe-kay?); Cecile Zamora van Straten aka Chuvaness herself (representing Philippine Star--the photos of “the other side of Guangzhou” are hers, by the way; thanks, Cecile!); ANC cameraman Romel Zarate; and our Chinese tour guide Tony. Despite the nosebleed weather, a lovely trip.


johnryanrecabar said...

the hair!!!

Anonymous said...

i was about to comment as well. mas bagay may hair kaysa wala

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