~ / Brian Norlander / travel /
China, Fall 2018

Visiting Shenzhen, and Guangzhou from September 22 to September 25, 2018.

During the first month of my exchange to Hong Kong I went to Shenzhen and Guangzhou. I went to Shenzhen with a large group of exchange students and a couple Hong Kongers and stayed one night. I then went to Guangzhou alone to take advantage of my 10 year visa.

Shenzhen

A major city in the Pearl River Delta megalopolis, Shenzhen was first designed to be a special economic zone. In 1980 the area that is now Shenzhen was a quiet fishing village. In the 1990s and 2000s Shenzhen was one of the fastest growing cities in the world, which now boasts one of the most impressive skylines in the world, a stock exchange, and a population of 20 million immigrants who are mostly from mainland China.

I may have gone a little crazy at this food market
Left: Assorted bugs Right: Scorpions
Assorted fruits
Left: Omelet wrap Right: Tarantulas
Tommy, June and me
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The Rest of Shenzhen

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We began exploring the city. Shenzhen is so new it doesn't have any history before 30 or 40 years ago. Being a modern city in China, it has many enormous skyscrapers, some futuristic arcades, and the worlds biggest electronic market.

>>>>>>> macau
Egg pancake and bacon
We found a cool arcade
Left: Old rice fields Right: New skyline

Huaqiangbei Electronics Market (华强北)

Huaqiangbei, known as the "Silicon Valley of hardware", is a major electronics manufacturing hub with a sprawling electronics market. There are 4 massive malls with only electronics part shops in them. On the bottom floor vendors sold individual parts and on the upper floors wholesalers sold large quantities of cheap electronics.

Guangzhou

The heart of the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou has been the terminus city of the silk road for many years and today is one of China's largest ports. Formerly known an Canton, it was the only Chinese port open to foreign trade after the silk road became obsolete.

Leaving Shenzhen, the railway station had no English. I had to use a combination of Baidu (a Chinese version of Google), trying to ask for help and intuition to successfully buy a train ticket to Guangzhou. Once I bought the ticket that I thought was right, I had no idea if the train I boarded was going to Guangzhou or some far away province in China. I crossed my fingers and boarded the train.

Traveling to China is not like any other country. I was surprised by how little English people spoke here. Arriving in Guangzhou late at night definitely felt somewhat unnerving. There were so many policemen everywhere, the security was so strict and many of the streets felt empty. However, arriving in any foreign city at night when you are tired can feel this way.

Shangxiajiu Commercial Pedestrian Street, a massive shopping area. I found many fake New Balance shoes here and resisted the temptation to buy a pair.
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>>>>>>> macau
Shamian Island: Given to the UK and France by the Qing Empire to serve as a trading intermediary. China resisted trade with the west, believing they had no need for "trinkets and toys" and that Chinese goods were sufficient.
The Pearl River: The third longest river in China, it combines the watershed of most of southern China. The name is because of pearl colored shells that lie at the bottom of the river in Guangzhou.

Canton Tower

Canton Tower 604 metres (1,982 ft) tall and is the 4th tallest structure in the world (as of 2018). It is used as a viewing point of Guangzhou's impressive skyline and cityscape.

Pearl River below
The city was an endless expanse of apartments and buildings
Left: Guangzhou International Finance Center: The 17th tallest building in the world and CTF Finance Centre: The 7th tallest building in the world
Left: Canton Tower Right: Guangzhou International Finance Center and CTF Finance Centre
Guangdong Museum
Left: Inside Guangzhou library Middle: Modern city center Right: Outside Guangzhou library

China: Out with the old and in with the new

After exploring the spectacular downtown I stumbled something breathtaking. An old village was being completely demolished in order to be replaced by massive apartments. In this village there was at least 10 meters of rubble everywhere and people were still living there!

The contrast between the old buildings and the new buildings was extreme.
I saw families still living in some of these apartments and even markets on small makeshifts streets in this decaying city.

This was the end of my travels in China... for a month. In October I went to Beijing. Southern China has a very different feel than northern China. The language, food and people are very different. China is such a massive country it is a huge challenge to understand the country in just one lifetime.

I took the train back to Hong Kong.

/ Travel