This morning we woke up with a sense of optism one feels when beginning an adventure in a new city. And this city was Guangzhou (pronounced ‘Gwong-Joe’). As mentioned in the previous post we had decided the night before to explore some of the nearly mountains. We were staying in the Baiyun District of Guangzhou, so funnily enough the nearby mountain was named ‘Baiyun Mountain’. Without the necessity of Google Maps we were unsure of how to get to the gateway of the mountain but after walking through a bit of a dicey neighbourhood we got there after about a 45 minute walk. It was the kind of place where you would least likely take someone on a date, that’s my best and most inoffensive description I can think of. Oh boy was it hot as well, we had left at 9am and now it was approaching 10am, the temperature was clinching to 20 degrees at this point, and me and Georgia not climatised to the weather at all were sweating a bucket load, some more than others (I was mainly sweating).
Hiking virtually vertically after entering through the wuxianqiao gate we were surrounded by nature, there were bamboo, osmanthus and caryota trees seeming embedded in every square inch of soil, along with the sound of creepy crawleys and insects whistling in the light wind. After climbing hundreds and hundreds of steps we made it to the top, it was a complete suprise. My expectations of climbing a mountain is that by the finish point will be a small open space of grass, we had however entered into a lively village. There were excercise parks, ping pong tables, an extreme sport centre where you can bungee jump and ride cable cars, it was great. Although the most adventurous me and Georgia got was buying a ping pong set at the local shop and playing on one of the tables.
Respectively and calmly walking along the footbridges we were taken aback by the beauty and wonder of the site, a glistening pond was the focal point and large coy fish and turtles swam effortlessly whilst the smell of sandalwood incense burnt in the air. Further ahead we trodded on, out of breath along a stream of water which led to a small waterfall. Before it was a statue of a local hero Dongpo Jushi. He was a great writer in the Northern Song Dynasty in the 11th century. At this point in time Guangzhou suffered terribly from deadly plagues, caused by the impurity of the water the city folk drank. He was able to build filtering infrastructure made of bamboo that led water from the highest peak of the Baiyun Mountains down to the city, the plague was absent from the area for a long time and he was deemed a local hero.
We had been at the mountains now for 5 hours, the sun was starting to beat down heavily so we headed back towards the hostel to freshen up. A couple of hours later we got the metro (which is actually quite confusing here) to Canton Tower. By day another skyscraper, by night a bright light that embodies the aura of Guangzhou being a lively, colourful and prosperous city.
We walked into Zhujiang New Town, which was like a futuristic Atlantis. A radiant block of flashy skyscrapers it stood as proof that this was a city that means business. We went for a meal at a place called Lan Kwai Fong, we both felt pretty disappointed with the meal but you win some you lose some. One thing I have noticed is that the Chinese food we eat back home is definitely Cantonese and not actual Chinese food. Cantonese or Southern Chinese food is definitely more attuned to our appetite and palette whereas traditional Chinese food I feel is not. By 9pm we were back st the hostel, we must have walked nearly 12 miles+ today. We spent the evening relaxing and drinking beer with a guy from Berlin called Tim we had met earlier and a couple of the owners of the Hostel, we skateboarded, played some ping pong in the complex of the apartment blocks we were staying in. It was a nice ending to a fantastic but tiring day.