It was my first time in Guangzhou, the “city of my ancestors”. Technically, it’s Shunde, now fused with Foshan, but that part of Shunde was closer to Foshan city centre. Since my mum’s family’s from Foshan (by pure luck, ’cause they met in Montreal), I don’t mind saying that Foshan is where my 乡 is.
Long short, noone unfamiliar with China ever knows Foshan (despite being a city of millions and millions). But they know the provincial capital, Guangzhou, just half an hour drive from there and known under its colonial name of Canton (thus the language spoken in the province).
This was my first time there, in Guangzhou, and I wasn’t with family either, all for a different experience. We wandered the streets of Guangzhou, but also especially its backstreets, what other friends call “slums”. They are hardly slums, but just old quarters houses, tucked in together and fed by narrow alleys.
However, we discovered how green Guangzhou actually is, which is to be expected in the old city, with little wholesale destruction of residential heritage like I’ve seen in my time in Beijing. It may happen in some other part of this expansive city, but not in the prime areas close to the river and old colonial city centre of the Shamian pseudo-Island.
We did so much walking around that it took the whole weekend. It was a pretty refreshing change from the rather sterile streets of Hong Kong, where greenery and urban arteries are like fire and water.
I am in lack of words, so here are photos on a map, for you to perhaps enjoy a similar trek in Guangzhou: