The traditional China – 8. 3. 2007

Posted in China, Guangzhou at 00:52

Beause I could not connect to the Internet the evening before I had to rely on the guide book copies I already used the day before. My first target was the Jade Market near Changshou Lu. About nearly one hundred shops selling all different kind and shapes of jade (photo) were settled down here. Some even with their workshop open to public sight (photo). One woman was always taking care that the craftsmen were doing their work and not watching me. I was very surprised as I suddenly saw in a shop window a variety of ivory carvings. very detailed traditional Chinese ships, landscape sceneries and most amazing a sculpture consisting of several ivory balls bound into each other. Through the bars structure of the surfaces you could see all the inner balls. I could not imagine how they did this. Just a five minutes walk from the Jade market was the Chen Tiu Lu 陈家祠 (also known as Chen Clan Academy or Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family) (photo) that houses the Guangdong Folks Art Museum. A lot of different specialized craftsmanship works were displayed and explained. Masterpieces of colored embroidery, Chanzhou wood carvings, sculpture works, colored pottery, painting and of course ivory carving (photo). And sometimes I could not stop to be astonished. A fisher net with all kinds of fishes and sea food INSIDE the net carved from a tree. Here I also learned that ivory carving has a long tradition in Guangzhou and they even showed how they did this special multiple-layered ivory ball (photo). It is a very impressive place and full of variety views into the more traditional China.

Unfortunately the weather was rainy all the time what did not really gave me mood to walk around in the streets. I was looking for a place to sit down eat something, have a beer and check out what to do next. This time I checked the guide papers more carefully and there was really a small place next to the Pearl River where there were several bars next to each other. It is called Shamian Island and is the “Western Town” district of Guangzhou. In the 18th and 19th century it was the only place where foreign traders were allowed to set up warehouses. For Chinese people the access was permitted. The small district with only colonial style buildings and a nice park still retains the atmosphere of these times. In contradiction to the rest of the city it is normal to see western people here. Also every sign is suddenly in English. I decided to go to Lucy’s bar, where I could eat something and already understand in advance what they will serve me 😉 .

After the lunch it stopped raining and my way lead me over the river to the Honan district. Until the communist revolution it was the red light district of Guangzhou and afterwards much improved. The guide told me it is a model district of the “Civic Spirit” campaign in the eighties. Sounds interesting even when I had no idea what to expect and what I found was totally different of this anyway. A nice old street, no modern buildings and everything quite lazy. Half of the shop owners were sleeping behind their desks. The total contrast to the modern city center I saw the evening before. That was how I imagined China before (photo, photo).

Already my last sightseeing point was the Huanghua Gang Gongyuan (Martyrs’ Memorial Gardens). Near the main entrance there was the Communist Uprising Monument (photo). It was build to remember the heroes of the communist uprising in Guangzhou in 1927. Just next to it is the mausoleum of the 72 martyrs of the Canton Uprising in 1911. Finally I could see communistic hero admiration in live. It makes quite a difference to feel this if you stand in the former East German part of Berlin where it is closed history, or in Guangzhou China where it is still real. Especially with all the coated soldiers around. Also here I could hear some music. But no speakers, this time it was live music. An old man playing a Chinese bowed string instrument sat in the Sino Soviet Union People’s Blood Condensed Friendship Pavilion (photo, photo). Next to him a woman slowly moving and dancing. It was looking like she would dance to to music. Another unique moment in China and my last impression of this city.

I was often warned that Chinese people would be quite different than Taiwanese or Hong Kong people. When I arrived in the train station yesterday and denied the taxi driver he yelled after me “Take care” and also by the entry guard in the Yuexiu Park. Fortunately I could not really find out what they meant with this. Even here in China I was asked one time by a young mother with a child on their shoulders if I find my way. So nothing offending at all.

But one more story: For souvenir and for my China fans at home I wanted to buy some Chinese cigarettes. They are very creative in designing nice packaging and so I choose the nicest one’s. I first thought that I only had bad luck because they were strong like hell (15mg tar/1.2mg nicotine). Later I was told that Chinese do not really know lighter cigarettes. And the smoking behavior is also one of the biggest differences I found between Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. In Taiwan you do not see many people smoking. And when then they are mainly elder men and young want-to-be cool guys. Except in pubs it is forbidden in restaurants and also on many other places like generally most of the buildings. In Hong Kong the law is much more restrictive. There it is even forbidden to smoke on most public premises like also parks. But on the other side because of the mixture of people there are again much more people smoking. And in China it is different again. Smoking is not prohibited in many places. Even in shopping centers people were smoking and the price for cigarettes is nearly nothing. The cheapest offer for a packet of cigarettes that I saw in Honan district was 2.5RMB (CHF 0.40) while the mean price was about 6-8RMB (CHF 1).

The journey back to Hong Kong was the same smooth like the outward journey. From Hung Hom I wanted to take the ferry back to Central but unfortunately the last one already left half an hour before. So I had to walk along the seaside to Tsim Sha Tsui. Behind a six-lane road I suddenly heard live music playing. Ah… on the wrong side of the road. My luck was a foot bridge just 50m further. The music came from the Bulldog’s Bar & Grill. Like in Taichung before there was a live cover band with two cute female singers. It was interesting to watch the people at this place. Only western couples or Hong Kong business men. Except four screeching German girls no young people here. Because I somehow enjoyed the live music I stayed for a while and had a self-brewed Bulldog’s beer for expensive 68NT$ (CHF 10). Eventually the last star ferry brought me back to Hong Kong Island once more.

1 Comment

  1. ganto’s Blog » ganto is back said,

    04.11.07 at 01:22

    […] As most of you already know I safely returned back home. Even when I am in Switzerland again since one month a lot of thoughts still concern myself with this travel. It was a unique time in my life. Because of this I am still willing to fill the gaps in the diary during the following weeks. So far I already added the second day in Guangzhou: The traditional China – 8. 3. 2007 […]

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