We were so good at the beginning–so good. Our first weekend was at the plant market. I visited the local museum the second week. We were going out and saying Yes to things.
Included in this was our field trip on our second weekend in town. We live in an almost ridiculously modern part of Guangzhou–so much that it’s even in the name: Pearl River New Town. As impressive and clean as it, it can feel a bit sterile.
But not all of Guangzhou is like that. This part of China was formerly known as Canton, important for its international port since the Tang Dynasty and community that grew around that. And that history is honored. We took the metro to a neighborhood with a particularly high-density of these historic buildings, Yuexiu.
The buildings here were not nearly so modern nor the streets quite as spotlessly clean; there was charm in the feeling of this being a place where people might live their whole lives. Our first stop was one of the first Buddhist temples in Guangzhou, Guangxiao Temple. It claims over a 1,000 years of history, and was no less active on this particular Sunday. People burned incense and bowed their heads in prayer in front of the various Buddhas. Multitudes more bought lunch from the women manning card tables in the adjacent courtyard: rice, soup, meat, vegetables.
Next stop was the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. We sat in the shade while Colin read aloud the Wikipedia page on the revolutionary hero-scholar-leader who manages the tricky feat of being revered in both Taiwan and China. Inside the building was an impressive theater and old photos of both the man and the hall.
Our last destination was the Yuexiu Park, a sprawling, manicured park with hills, lakes, a handful of historic buildings, and a statue honoring the legend of the Five Rams. These rams came bearing rice for the residents of the city during a particularly dreadful famine 2,000 years ago, saving everyone, and now they’re an emblem of the city.
Some fun things to look forward to, future visitors!