Friday, February 20, 2009


We knew as soon as we stepped off the plane yesterday evening that this was a very different place from Nanchang. First there was the change in climate; it was twenty-plus degrees warmer. Palm trees were everywhere. The airport itself contained a big mall with a number of western boutiques. Welcome to China's fifth-largest, and perhaps most western, city.

It's not at all surprising that Guangzhou seems so familiar. Until the 1970s it was called Canton, and in the 18th and 19th century it was the primary port for western trade. The part of town where we're staying, Shamian Island, was for a long time the only place in China where Europeans could legally reside. Our hotel, the Hotel Victory, was originally built by the British as the Hotel Victoria, and the architecture very much shows it. Unlike the opulent but garish modernism of the Galactic Peace, with its marble and glass, the Victory is decorated mostly with wood and muted tones. Very British.

After settling in I ventured out to find a grocery, and walked around the block. I found that the area reminded me of New Orleans or Charleston--semi-tropical, lush with vegetation, surrounded by colonial-style buildings, and with just that touch of decadence that makes a city interesting. I think we are going to enjoy it here.

The video was taken yesterday morning, when we were still in Nanchang.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't Guangzhou amazing! It was such a difference for us after staying in "New" Nanchang were there were hardly any people!