Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back to China

After Osaka, I flew to Guangzhou to visit my ex-girlfriend, and then took the train from there to Hong Kong. Sadly, I did not get any photos of Guangzhou, but if you want some idea of what it's like, go see the documentary "Manufactured Landscapes". (It also shows great footage of the old Shanghai, the areas my friends there didn't show me much of, now being paved over with buildings like the ones in the photos I've posted.)

Guangzhou is more what I imagined Communist China to be like. Functional, but not pleasant. By this time in the summer, the temperatures were up to 36 Celsius and 80% humidity. Lots of cement structures, some covered with Microsoft Windows background-like patterns, some with brass birdcage balconies. The Mega Center island is vast, covered with imposing university block fortresses. From the view we had, there's a gargantuan cement freeway that arches up off into the foggy distance and back behind to some unseeable entrance. A symbol of hope, or a reminder that getting off the island is a steep climb? (Actually, there is a subway line but it was closed due to the floods a month earlier while I was there)

We went to a grocery store. There, along with the usual aisles of cereal, coffee and sauces, was the live food section with tanks of big fish, crabs, frogs, turtles... Much like you'd find in an outdoor Chinatown. But for me the big surprise was the frozen crocodile -- its distinctive tail lying there in the ice next to a large fish. We stuck to the small fishes for our dinner, which were delicious.

Downtown, we saw the old art institute (I thought it looked much cozier with its green vines and sculpture garden, but apparently it was too noisy). We visited a shopping district, where one can buy all kinds of insanely cheap gadgets, handbags, toys, and whatnot. We also saw abandoned, unfinished hulls of buildings which failed commercially, or were never completed because the owner jumped off the top to his death, scaring away occupants. Never destroyed either, so they sit there as a perpetual reminder that not all growth is positive.

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posted by Brian at 11:01 AM

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