Pleasant Memories

Written by Jun 17, 2006 22:06
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Round and About in the City on the Pearl

Guangzhou is built astride the Pearl River and still has all the signs of having been a destination for big ships. Over the centuries, treaties wrenched concessions from China and allowed Europeans to establish themselves in pockets of this lovely city. Shamian Island is a case in point. Even today, the French ambience is tangible.

Guangzhou is served by a splendidly modern airport, about 35 mins from the city. The bus service is excellent, following four different routes into the city and serving different hotels. One simply asks at the airport and one is guided to the right bus. The fare is under 20 Yuan.

The city abounds in Squares - which are mostly circles, actually. Haizhu Square is a very fine circle, surrounded by good hotels and wholesale shopping arcades. From the top of the Landmark Hotel there is a splendid view of the city and its river - even more lovely by night. There is a magnificent granite statue in the centre, with the figure looking straight across one of the oldest bridges over the Pearl River.

China's version of the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral is just round the corner from this Square. It is called the Shi Shi Church [Mandarin] or Seksat Church [Cantonese] because it was built with huge granite stones. What the history guides do not tell the visitor is that these stones were taken from Chinese sites that fell to the ravages of European gun-boats.

There is a wonderful bus system in Guangzhou, serving all quarters of the city. The service is frequent and regular. With my indian background where ladies do not drive public vehicles, I was surprised and delighted to see so many lady drivers. The report is that they are actually safer than their male counterparts, because they do not drink and they are more law-abiding. Well done, ladies!

Guangzhou, the Capital of Guangdong Province, is a mere two hours from HK, Shenzhen, Macau. Road and rail services are excellent. Fares vary from 55-75 Yuan.

GZ is well worth a visit, if only to sit by the banks of the Pearl River and savour a past carried now only on the whispering winds, or hidden in the stones of ancient buildings.

Baiyun Park

This magnificent park-cum-mountain resort stretches away to the north-east of Guangzhou city. Buses 76, 76A, 36, 864 all serve it, passing the North Entrance. No. 24 takes one to the south entrance.

I chose to enter by the North Entrance, beside the Guangzhou School of Languages. The fee is a modest 5 Yuan (I think). Inside one is face to face with spreading landscaped beauty of shrub, garden, flower, water. Little footpaths weave hither and thither. There is also a motorable road running right through the park, wending its way in serpentine curves towards to the south entrance. It took me 4 hours to walk it, but one can avail of little electric buses that ferry people around for a slightly stiffer fee.

The walk was exhilirating, partly because it takes one through the splendours of nature and also because the first-timer is never sure where it will lead or when it will end.

At different points along the way, there are viewing spots, enabling one to peer down on the spreading city of Guangzhou.

The park with its road and path is very popular. Hundreds of people were making their way around - walking, jogging, or simply relaxing in one of the many sitting areas which abound there. There are eating places too where one cdan have a quiet beer to the accompaniment of bird-song.

I feel that if one has time for it, a visit to this Baiyun Mountain Resort is well worth the little effort to get there.

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