Exploring Guangdong province

Time ran out really quickly in Macau and I haven’t seen almost anything in China. When I checked my schedule for the rest of my time in Asia, I realized I have just one last free weekend in Macau. Therefore, I decided to explore the countryside of Guangdong province, specifically Kaiping UNESCO diaolou villages and also the capital city of the region- Guangzhou, the third largest city in China.

My friends had classes on Friday and Saturday so I set out to the trip alone. I packed a Chinese vocabulary book, printed out Chinese characters with names of places I wanted to visit and I took a bus to Kaiping. As I fell in love in motorcycling in Taiwan, my initial plan was to hire a scooter in this Chinese “little town” (around 500 000 inhabitants) and look around the countryside on my own. It looked promising because the city was crowded by scooters. However, after asking around twenty people and passing Kaiping streets around one hour, I had to give up. You can just buy a scooter, not to hire. Weird. Therefore, I had to rely on other means of transport to reach places I planned. There were either buses or simple vans going to all the dialaou villages. I had to trust drivers. Nobody spoke any English word. They just took me somewhere far away from the civilization and I just hoped they would bring me to places which showed my Chinese characters. They just dropped me in the middle of nowhere and showed a direction where I should continue walking. Surprisingly, I found all villages I planned to see and nobody stole my kidneys on my journey.

To explain why this area is actually interesting, Dialaou means fortified multi-storey towers, generally made of reinforced concrete which were built to protect against bandits. They were built in early 20th century and because of their unique architecture style they were inscribed  on the UNESCO World Cultural heritage List in 2007. There are several clusters of these towers in the area. This is one of the most famous towers in Jinjiangli village.

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I appreciated to be after a long time far away from crowded cities. The villages were really cosy. In my opinion, the Jianjiangli village was the most charming one…

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Here are some other towers from Zili village…

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These villages are preserved because they are listed in the Unesco heritage. Otherwise, the countryside in Guangdong is a mixture of beautiful landscapes, simple habitations, various fields and unfortunately also a lot of garbage…

Plantation in Guangdong…

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Drying corns on the road…

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Garbage everywhere…

 

 

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I also stopped in the largest village in the area for lunch.

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Two days in the countryside were enough so I continued to Guangzhou. That was something completely different. People were everywhere. I haven’t been before in such a crowded city. At least, there were some people speaking English and also pretty good public transport so I got easily to a hotel where I was supposed to meet my friends from Macau. As it was already evening, we decided go out. Finding a bar showed up to be a difficult task. We asked several taxi drivers to take us to a party street recommended by Lonely planet book but they just took us to different places and there was nothing happening. After several attempts, we gave up and bought a bottle of rum in a convenient store and made our own party by the Pearl river.

Next day after waking up from Chinese hangover, we wanted to look around the city. However, we found there is not so much to see. All the streets looked the same. Thousands of people and very strange shops offering everything you can imagine.

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The only one thing which was worth seeing was a former tallest building in the world, the Canton tower. Its 600 m were really impressive. It took so much time to a Chinese guy to take a picture of us and the whole tower. In the end, he found out that nothing is impossible.

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Unfortunately, the view was limited by smog above the city. That’s how I imagine China.

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Then, we just took a fast train back to Zhuhai and crossed the border back to Macau.

In case, some readers are interested in visiting the Guangdong province, my recommendation is to avoid Gaungzhou and explore the countryside instead. Even though nobody speaks English there, people are really helpful, it is safe there and watching how people live there is really interesting.

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About jarinek

I am a graduate Master student in Business development and internationalisation at Umea University, Sweden. In the fall 2013 I went for an exchange programme to Macau, University of Science and Technology. My blog approaches my experience there in China. View all posts by jarinek

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