Colton's Asia Experience

Guangzhou

By Colton Powell

The next stop on our trip brought us north from Hong Kong to the city of Guangzhou, in mainland China.

My cousin and his family have lived here for the past three years, and they acted as our guides for our stay. Coming to China, I did not really know what to expect. I imagined a rundown version of Hong Kong, with utter chaos and traffic everywhere. I was very wrong, and this city completely surprised me.

The best way to describe Guangzhou is that it's a futuristic city which acts as a model for China's rise as a global power. As far as the eye can see are skyscrapers taller than mountains that seem to go on forever. There are cranes everywhere, and the city seems to be in a constant state of construction. However, if you happen to have a local as your guide you can still find the remains of the old city that are teeming with street markets, selling anything you can dream of. For us, we were lucky enough to experience both sides of the city.

We explored one of the market areas hidden among the highrises. Here the buildings were crumbling, waiting to make way for more skyscrapers. We lost ourselves in the tight network of alleys, where people sold fresh fruit, meat and SIM cards.

Guangzhou as seen at night from the top of an apartment building roof
Guangzhou as seen at night from the top of an apartment building roof

The most popular stores seemed to be hair salons, as locals get the latest styles in ancient barber chairs. There was even a dentist, which just seemed a little out of place. We then traded in the heavy aroma of the alleys and headed to the electronics market in the center of downtown.

Back alley market selling fruit and coffee near downtown Guangzhou
Back alley market selling fruit and coffee near downtown Guangzhou
 
This market was six floors of every gizmo, gadget, phone, computer, TV that you could think of. There was endless booths of people building computers, tinkering with phones-you name it, you could find it here. I bought a small adapter for my computer that in Canada would have cost me $35-after a little bargaining I got it for around $2. It was a techies dreamland, and given more time and more space in my backpack I would have come home with a lot more.
 
After exploring the heart of the old city we traded up to experience new Guangzhou. First stop was lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel that is home to one of the highest hotel lobbies in the world-it's located on the 70th floor!
 
View from the top of the Four Seasons Hotel
View from the top of the Four Seasons Hotel
 
We put on our fanciest attire, which consisted of shorts and a T-shirt, and headed for some high-class dining. The view was staggering; you felt so high you could barely make out the people below. We gorged ourselves and finished off the day with a foot massage and pedicure. My size-15 feet were definitely a surprise for the masseuse and they kept fighting over who had to do mine.
 
Getting our first pedicure and foot massage
Getting our first pedicure and foot massage
 
That evening we couldn't really remember what backpacking was like and our previous hostel was a memory of the distant past. We decided that maybe the five-star life is the way to go… We finished off the rest of the trip by spending some quality time with my cousins, and were able to rest and relax before embarking on the next stop on our itinerary.

Click next to continue to Part 8 of Colton's Asia Experience

Monthly Travel Updates

Outpost Travel magazine View From Here Button

Outpost Travel Center

Outpost Travel Deals and Discounts