Guangzhou is a place that I have always wanted to visit. It is the place where huge deals are made for the sale of manufactured goods “Made in China”. The first thing you notice walking through the streets here is that you can buy anything. There was a street that sold nothing but underwear! There was another street for shoes, another for crafts, another for Jade… You get the picture!
The thing that people overlook about this city is the rich cultural and physical beauty of the city. My hotel room overlooks the Pearl River. The views at night are spectacular. The illuminated buildings and riverboats are perfectly mirrored from my high vantage point.
Again, my time here is limited to 48 hours and again, I will cram as much culture as I can into this short time. I started with a walk down Beijing Road, an area just for walking traffic. I was immediately approached again by people that would bring you to the underground stores selling knockoff merchandise. I was still curious, as it was exciting being led to these illegal shops. This time the excitement was a little too much to handle as a massive Police bust went down as they were opening the door to the first shop! I pretended I did not know what was going on and slipped away before I was caught in the middle.
Walking the river promenade at night was an excellent idea after all of that excitement. Every hundred metres or so was a group of people crowded around a karaoke machine and the locals were singing traditional and modern Chinese music. There were also many couples either roller skating or walking down the romantic boardwalk.
The next morning I actually allowed myself to sleep in until 7:00am when I started my day with visits to the various markets scattered throughout the city. Xiguan Jade Street was my first stop and by chance I found the historic Hualin Temple which is the birthplace of Chinese Zen and has over 1,500 years of history.
By chance, I then stumbled upon a local street market where they sold everything from fresh produce, to live turtles. When I saw the turtles fighting to get loose, it broke my heart.
Nothing I have seen so far on this trip shocked me as much as what I witnessed next. As I was walking by a group of women sitting on the ground in front of black gym bags, I caught a glance at what was inside one of the bags. Instinctively, I raised my camera and managed to get a single shot. Through the viewfinder, I saw what I thought was a large paw. When I reviewed the image and zoomed in, I felt seriously ill. It was definitely the paw of a large cat. It was larger than my hand and had many large black claws. I kept walking, and tried to forget about what I had just witnessed, only to then come across a crocodile cut into several pieces and laid on the sidewalk.
As much as I love to experience culture, everyone has their limit. I called it a day and spend the rest of the afternoon garment shopping. This brought me to my last stop of the day, the Liuhua Garment Wholesale Fair. This is an enormous, multi floor complex which serves as the sales hub for many of the large manufacturers in China. Stall after stall displayed the latest fashion for sale, only they were not selling to me. They only deal in orders with extremely large numbers and where I would get hassled to “have a look” anywhere else, they would not even look at me here. There were buyers from all over the world sitting at tables and talking about multiple containers arriving by ship. I was definitely not going to find a fitting room to try anything on today!