Guangzhou is the economic engine of South China, though Shenzen has become a force to be reckoned with as well. It was also the very first place in China I visited many years ago. Each time a go back it is a occasion for reflection on how much China, and I, have changed.
This trip to Guangzhou marked the first time I would be traveling China with my children, aged 5 and 8. I wondered how the journey head would go.
The airport at Guangzhou was both modern and interesting. A vast improvement from years ago.
Guangzhou is somewhat (well locally anyway) famous for all of the bridges across the Pearl River. Each has a unique design
As we came into Guangzhou it was interesting to still see chunks of farm land scatter among the medium density apartment complexes.
A lot has changed since my first visit. The city has been transformed from free wheeling chaos to a reasonably ordered modern city.
Motorcycle Taxis seemed to be popular, I thought the umbrella was a nice touch.
Much of our stay here was spent visiting some friends. They were among China’s affluent class and lived in gated and very well maintained developments. To me the place seemed more like a vacation condo than a regular dwelling.
The place had a pool that was very nice and the kids enjoyed it immensely. Going between the house and the pool, strolling around the complex, it was hard to believe that this was China. It just felt so different from my previous experiences.
Each unit at the complex had a garage. Most (but not all) garages had cars. Automotive ownership is a growing symbol of affluence in China. If you want to “be someone” you’ve got to have a car, even if you don’t need it.
After some pool time we went looking for food. It took a while to find a restaurant to everyone’s liking. In the process we went by this nearby shopping mall. They had an impromptu roller blading park set up for the kids outside.
This is a small but fairly typical Chinese shopping mall. Multiple levels, open center, lots of different stores.
The mall didn’t do it for us so we drove around looking for some special food to eat as the sun started to set. From driving around I gathered this was a fairly good part of town.
We pulled up to a hotel that housed a very large and famous seafood restaurant. The problem was parking. The last few years have seen great growth in car ownership but little additional parking added. Being a fancy expensive place most of the people who come here drive, so parking was a huge issue. They had a small army of guys in the parking lot directing traffic. Even then it was a major challenge to find a place
Tonight we would eat at a place that was famous for its fresh and delicious seafood. The place was huge, the size of the floor of a department store. About half the place was seating and the other half was food display and kitchen space.
The restaurant had banks of chefs working behind counters. They seem to have recruited guys from other countries as well as from all over China.
This place could have been better described as a culinary aquarium. The entire length was stacked with tanks that held all the “ingredients”. You could stroll the displays and pick out the specific creatures you wished to consume. They had a very large inventory. This alone would have been worth a class field trip to more types of sea life than you see at any aquarium.
Eels are a popular dish in Asia and were definitely on the menu here.
Some type of Asian Prawn. It tastes like a lighter flavored shrimp.
They had a really, really large crab.
Apparently few insects are safe. These water beetles were popular enough to have a tank all their own. I’m guessing they are crunchy?
Don’t know what kind it was but if it were in the US it would be the “big one” at the local fish tank. I wonder how long he’ll last.
It wasn’t all slimy swimming things. You could get your pigeon and ham hocks to.
And what would a visit to Guangzhou be without seeing some snake wine. Supposedly the snake infuses the wine with its essence which can be delivered in a convenient drinkable form!
Returning to the table from my aquatic photo safari I found our food was starting to arrive. This was a delectable tofu dish.
What would seafood be without a fish dish? This was some type of flounder. As is tradition in southern China they brought the fish by your table BEFORE it was cooked to make sure it was to your liking.
Snails anyone? We got to enjoy a place of fresh snails. Not really my thing. I ate a few but my stomach let me know that was a few too many.
We spent the night in an unremarkable hotel in an unremarkable section of town. Our friends picked us up and took us to another place to eat.
On our way to lunch we ran into some swine there were also going somewhere for lunch..
Our dinning pleasure this afternoon was in a very swanky hotel with an impressive chandelier.
Southern China is where Dim Sum was born. Guangzhou probably has the best Dim Sum in the world. A meal consisting of a wide variety of small little dumpling it is one of my favorite forms of Chinese food. One piece in particular, the little round balls in the front ranks among the best dishes I have eaten in my life. It was like the best cake, muffin, dim sum ball all rolled into one.
The restaurant was pretty posh.
We ate and ate and ate. This fatty pork dish was both tender and succulent.
After the feasting my wife and her friends chatted while I took the kids to check out the Pearl River.
A pano of the housing development along the Pearl River.
After Dim Sum we drove around a bit to look at the city. While Guangzhou is large it doesn’t have a concentric core of tall buildings like American cities. Their tend to be clusters.
This is the city concern hall, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there are bigger/better venues now. The last time we were here this was on the outskirts of town with open fields around it. Now it is surrounded by high rent residential complexes.
Most of the large Chinese cities that I have been two share one geographical feature, they are very flat. Consequently they have to build large structures to get broadcast antenne high in the air. As such any city in China that thinks itself modern seeks to build a unique TV tower.
With our brief stay in Guangzhou drawing to a close we headed to the train station to catch the express to Hong Kong and the next part of our journey.