Saturday, June 27, 2009

Exploring China – Guangzhou II

The second day was supposed to be our introduction day to Guangzhou. We read that Guangzhou was full of parks, which are graciously absent in Bangkok.

The next park was only 5 minutes walk for the hotel away. Surprisingly though, it cost 10 Yuan (50 baht) to enter. Every park in Guangzhou cost 10 yuan. That’s not so “communist”, we thought. But we soon saw why they charged…

The parks were so immaculately kept, so vast, full of flowers, lakes, trees and temples – beautiful! The first park we visited had some sort of palace on an island in the lake. In front, two newly-wed couples were posing for pictures.

White palace and couple in front! How cheesy - the pose!

The guy of one couple looked very femme and was more interested in looking at me and my boyfriend than at his new wife. I think they might not have a very happy wedding…

Anyway, China seems crazy about weddings! There were wedding picture agencies EVERYWHERE. The backgrounds don’t just include a white palace but also the Greek Islands (!) and colourful flowers. Look at the pictures and you wonder who is the man and who the woman…

How gay!!!

Then, we took the metro to the main shopping street. The metro is impressive. As new and modern as it can get. Guangzhou is going to host the Asian Games in 2010 and the whole city is one big development site.

We went to the main shopping street, Beijing Street. It was Sunday so there were many couples with their children playing, walking and shopping.
We realised quickly that Chinese people are enamoured with their children, and treat them like princes(ses). We also realised that the big majority of these children were boys.

China still upholds the “one-child policy” and boys are the preferred gender to become economically successful individuals who can support the family. Hence, a big gender gap is developing!

Beijing Street

Then, we reached the Pearl River area, where the oldest parts of the town are situated. We found a thousands of old shop-houses who sold everything from bamboo to underwear, belts and tobacco.

The underwear street

Old area with colonial buildings.

Later we were walking along the river, when we noticed that four uniformed men were “discreetly” following us. When we turned around, they were suddenly interested in looking at the advertisement posters…

The constant surveillance was the only negative point in visiting China. Not only were there people in uniform sitting in the neighbourhoods, but we were also followed by plain-clothed people. I am seriously wondering what the central government is afraid of.

I really admire China and that is why I took so many pictures. If I were a secret journalist I wouldn’t walk around with a huge DSLR camera around my neck. If China wants to develop, it needs to stop being paranoid and rather show off what it has!

When I looked at my pictures again I also saw so many CCTV cameras, controlling every neighbourhood. That however is no different from the UK for example. We do not know what happens with the material, both, in the UK and in China.

Men on bikes, a common sight in China.

After visiting another immaculate park with a huge lake full of lotus flowers, we decided to visit the newer parts of Guangzhou.

It was evening and the teenies were out shopping in droves. They were curious about the farang with his huge camera and we got hundreds of inquisitive looks.

In one of the malls, we visited a café called “Starheart” – an obvious rip-off of a known American chain…overall I was actually shocked at how much gets copied in China. Converse, Adidas, Gucci, Rover, Starbucks – all ripped-off. Not in dark alleys, in shopping malls and streets!

The boy serving us at “Starheart” looked Thai. Anyway, there is a big mix of looks in China. There were tall pasty people, tiny dark people and everything in between. The only difference to the Thais were the clothes they wore.

“Starheart” boy wore baggy jeans and acted manly, like 99% of the guys we saw. He spoke a tiny bit of English and showed it off – cute!

Tianhe area

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