In March 2007, my studies brought me to Guangzhou, a city with more than 10 million inhabitants in southern China. I was working within the nice, green, and quiet campus of the Sun Yat-sen University, but I also took the chance to explore the busy city as well as ventured further afield to nearby Guilin, Hong Kong, and Macau. After my work was finished, I prolonged my stay in China to travel with a friend for another few weeks. First we met in Beijing, but soon we had enough of megacities and therefore took a quick decision: We booked train tickets on the (then) newly established Lhasa Train. 48 hours brought us across most of China and on top of the Tibetan Plateau where Lhasa, the city of my childhood dreams, was awaiting us. After a week in this place of wonders, we took a flight to Kunming and continued up to the tropical forests of Xishuangbanna with its capital of Jinghong. Here close to the border to Myanmar, the journey ended – but hey, we are not there yet – and I hope you will enjoy reliving this trip with me in the coming weeks!
Guangzhou is the major city of southern China, but internationally outshined by the nearby special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. The city spreads along the banks of the Pearl River, which offers impressive views of the skyline with new skyscrapers rising up every few months! Touristic sights are relatively scarce, but include a couple of parks, museums, Buddhist temples, and the Shamian Island. This little islet on the northern bank of the Pearl River was once a British and French concession and is characterized by a number of colonial buildings, a quiet atmosphere, and the US consulate. If you want to escape the bustle of the megacity, you can hop on the bus to Zhuhai, close to the border to Macau. This comparatively small town is located at the sea and therefore a popular place for locals to sample the famous seafood cuisine.
After getting set in Guangzhou, I had the chance to get even further outside the city as colleagues organized a short trip to the famous karst landscape near Guilin – but that’s the content of this post!