Day 36 brought me to Shamian Island in older west end of Guangzhou. To get there, instead of relying on the driver or a taxi, I took the Guangzhou Metro for the first time since being back. It’s the sixth busiest metro system in the world with approximately 1.64 billion passenger rides per year; behind Shanghai and just ahead of New York City. During all my school years I barely used public transportion so it was an eye-opening experience learning about the distance-based fare system and stations. Fares start at ¥2, which converts to a whopping $0.30. If one traveled end-to-end the fare would still only cost ¥14, or $2.20. The public transit smartcard here is called the “Ram City Pass”; it’s contactless and credit/cash rechargeable.
Shamian Island is encircled by the Pearl River and was a major trading port dating back to the Song dynasty around 1000 AD until the early 1900s. Shamian was also a strategic location as a military defensive base during both the Opium Wars. For a time after the wars the island was divided into British and French territories. These days, tourists and locals gather there mostly to enjoy colonial European architecture and for walks around lush well-manicured gardens and boulevards. Apparently, the island is very popular with wedding and cosplay photo shoots. Old folks love to play Chinese chess, fish, and practice tai chi by the river banks. Oh, and there’s a Starbucks! It’s probably the only Starbucks in the city where if you order in English they will give you a no-fuss-zero-hesitation answer back in near-perfect English. I remember going on dates here in high school.
I strolled around, took photos, sat down for breaks with my ice tea and ice coffee, and people-watched all afternoon.
Building No. 1. It’s most likely first thing you’ll notice immediately after crossing the main bridge onto Shamian.
Serene sunny sidewalks.
The most colonial-styled souvenir shop ever.
A few young ladies enjoying a nice break from the malls perhaps?
Imagine how beautiful it would be if the fountain was functional! You can see a wedding photo shoot in the background.
Is the sculpture telling us that bigger boobs and longer legs warrants skimpier outfits?
Atone for your scandalous outfit here; at this French church built in 1892.
With one shoo of his hand I understood he didn’t want his picture taken… but I returned later in super stealth mode. He was still texting.
Time to head home. My souvenir is a shot of souvenirs.
Evening plans: ate Hangzhou cuisine for dinner and watched Porco Rosso with my sister.