First Impressions of Guangzhou (Megan in China)

Good Morning, Guangzhou! 广州,早上好!

This is my first post after arriving in China! It’s Sunday morning here in Guangzhou, a full twelve hours ahead of my home in Michigan thanks to the time zone differences. I’ve only been here for two days, and a good portion of that time was spent waiting in airports for layovers or sleeping off the jet lag in my apartment, but today I decided to get out and explore the area around my apartment to get to know the city. My apartment is in the Zhujiang New Town (珠江新城)area of downtown Guangzhou, which seems to be a business and tourist attraction district with a large oval-shaped park and public square just to the east of my building. Here’s the view from my 15th-floor apartment window:Guangzhou Tianhe District, Zhujiang New Town 广州市天河区,珠江新城

Guangzhou Tianhe District, Zhujiang New Town
广州市天河区,珠江新城

I was out early this morning because my body decided to wake up at 6:00 am, and although I seemed to take forever just wandering around and soaking up the sights and sounds of the city, many of the restaurants and shops were still closed by 9:00, so I am planning to go out again later in a quest for a belated breakfast of tasty steamed buns called Baozi (包子). My first order of business was to find the American Consulate, where I’ll be working for the next ten weeks. Thankfully, it’s only one block over and one block down from my very conveniently located apartment, so it took me all of four minutes to find it thanks to its distinctive architecture. I was told that the Consulate was renovated pretty recently in the last few years, so I’m excited to see its design on the inside.

The American Consulate-General in Guangzhou (美国总领事馆)

The American Consulate-General in Guangzhou
(美国总领事馆)

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After checking out the consulate, I walked several blocks over to the large park/plaza area and discovered a perfect view of the Canton tower, the world’s tallest TV tower and a major tourist attraction in downtown Guangzhou that overlooks the Pearl River.

The Canton Tower (广州塔)

The Canton Tower (广州塔)

The plaza is also surrounded by some interesting architecture from the Guangzhou Opera House and the Guangzhou library, which surprisingly had a long line of people waiting outside at 8:00 am! Although I’m just looking around today, I’ll be sure to plan to come back and visit these buildings properly on a day when I have more time. It’s amazing to me that all of these attractions are just down the street from my apartment!

A side view of the Guangzhou Opera House

A side view of the Guangzhou Opera House

Guangzhou Library (广州图书馆)

The Guangzhou Library (广州图书馆)

The thing that seems most unusual to me is the gigantic underground mall, called the Mall of the World, that spreads below the entire plaza and has lots of winding tunnels that crisscross under the streets with periodic access points that connect with the metro system or the sidewalks and plaza above. At ground level, this area seems like a food desert and has mostly office buildings, but that’s because the whole underground mall is packed with the restaurants and smaller shops that are sparse above ground. It’s easy to get lost in here- I’ve done so several times already! Some parts of the mall require cutting through rather sketchy-looking unfinished tunnels with dimmed lights or scaffolding, but there’s always enough people about that it’s perfectly safe and best considered part of the experience.

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One of the underground mall entrances in the plaza by my apartment.

And that concludes my morning explorations of Guangzhou! I’m excited to see more of the city throughout these next ten weeks and to start work tomorrow. I’m not sure what to expect, so no matter what happens this internship will be an experience I’m unlikely to forget. I’ll be sure to share my experiences on this blog, so stay tuned for more stories and photos in the upcoming weeks!

Until later,

Megan

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