Out of the 9 weeks I have been in Guangzhou since arriving on June 12th, the first was spent sleeping off the jet lag and four more were filled by trips to Hong Kong or Yangshuo, leaving only four weekends spent here in the city. Since I don’t generally have time to go out and tour the city sights after work on weekday nights, my opportunities to get out and explore my host city while I’m here have been rather slim despite a lengthy-sounding 10 week internship. Because of this sad reality, I determined that this weekend I was going to do just that: visit some of the more interesting historical sites and locales on my “places to see” list that could give me a view into how the locals live, including the popular Yuexiu Park (越秀公园).
Yuexiu park is centrally located in the city and is easily accessible by metro, as is almost everything in Guangzhou. It’s most famous for its Five Rams statue, which embodies a legend about five immortals who thousands of years ago came to Guangzhou riding rams, blessed the city, and gave the locals gifts of rice that saved the city from famine. The statue has become an emblem of Guangzhou, and the city makes good on its nickname as the “City of Rams” by featuring the Five Ram statue on its metro card and naming the card a “Yángchéng tōng” (羊城通), which translates to “Ram City pass”. While it took me a while to find the statue among the winding and sparsely labeled pathways in the expansive park, I did manage to find it and capture a shot without too many other people in the picture, a constant battle in China
Besides the statue, there was plenty to see in Yuexiu Park, and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon spent strolling with the locals around the lakes and along the hilly paths. I have always been the type of person to feel refreshed and energized after spending time in nature, so small getaways like this are always welcome in a city environment like Guangzhou.
I also made some surprising discoveries: besides nice scenery, the park also hosts a football stadium, a monument for famous Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-Sen, and an amusement park!
After spending an afternoon in the excruciating heat, I was ready to come home to a cold air-conditioned apartment, but the following day I took a Sunday afternoon trip out to three sites: the Six Banyan Tree temple (六榕寺), a Buddhist temple complex and traditional pagoda built in 510 that still stands as a quiet and contemplative gated area in the middle of busy market streets; the Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall; and the Chen Clan Academy (陈家祠), the ancestral hall and temporary home built by many families surnamed Chen to provide a place for their sons to reside and study for the imperial examinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The building is laid out as many rooms around a central courtyard, with very colorful painted adornments on the roofs and intricate detail everywhere in carvings on walls and screens.
Visiting these sites was a very enjoyable and relaxing way to spend my second-to-last weekend here, although there’s still several places I would like to see next weekend before I fly to Beijing for the year on August 21st. Stay tuned for a part two to my Guangzhou explorations post (with more photos, of course!)