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25 Feb 2020

Green, contaminated city – Guangzhou, China

Green, contaminated city – Guangzhou, China

When talking about China, it is impossible to not overuse the word “most”. Most populous country in the world, already more than 1.3 billion people. Almost every fifth inhabitant of the earth is Chinese. One of the biggest countries in the world, 3rd position after Russia and Canada. And finally the fastest growing economy in the world, by creating excellent conditions for foreign investment and transfer of new technologies. You wonder what kind of conditions? One thing is certain, not all of us would like to live in such a country. Low labor costs (low wages), the prohibition of strikes for employees, no unions, low taxes, access to the huge labor market and the lack of restrictions when it comes to protection of environment.


I realized on myself the lack of environmental restrictions when going into two main viewpoints, with a view of Guangzhou. Deluded by promise to see the panorama of the city, consisting of a series of impressive skyscrapers surrounded by green hills, I went first to the Canton Tower. 600 meter high tower, second after Tokyo Skytree, the highest tower in the world. While skyscrapers were so close that they were easy to spot, seeing the green hills surrounding, was not out of the question.


The same thing happened after entering a gondola on the Baiyun hill. This time, I enjoy watching lush vegetation growing out of the side of the mountain on which I was standing. However it was harder to recognizing the city itself. So the expedition there was a slight disappointment for me and for the lovely Magdalena from Bialystok (Poland), with who I was exploring Guangzhou.


What broke my views and good pictures is the lack of restrictions in the environmental protection for companies operating in China. The situation does not improve either by rapidly growing population, which at present is 18 million. Around the city, but in the Guangzhou as well, is located a large number of factories of electrical , machinery, metallurgy, chemical and automotive industries. Therefore Guangzhou is one of the most polluted cities of the country. The attitude of the Chinese authorities towards protection of the environment was well summed by Xiaoming (Chinese friend from the flight crew) first money, then environment.


However, the hike up the hill Baiyun resulted in another observation on China. This mountain is a park landscaped with lush vegetation and lakes. In the contemplation of nature, gently said, scatter a few meters robot replicas from the movie Transformers. One yellow, the other blue, and another red (disappointment on my face you can observe above). This observation confirmed the idea that the Chinese like kitsch. A year ago, the state of the dragon, visited my friend from previous work – Monika. She told me, among others, that she went to a certain national park. A few forested hills, waterfall and several lakes. However, local authorities lacked something in this green area so they decided to put there … dinosaurs.


A similar thing happened with the city Liwanhu Park, where we went after persuasion of the hotel concierge, who confirmed that it was a little Venice. Although this place was nothing like the Italian city, we could once again see the glorification of the Chinese to kitsch. Lake located in a park was crossed by the bridge “decorated” in a number of rainbows. At the bridge walkers greeted colorful characters, probably from the local fairy tales. I won’t even mention what these characters reminds…


Totally better presented itself another city park – Yuexiu Park, which turned out to be the most attractive point of the city. The huge green area with the hill, lakes and lush vegetation. But what made it so nice was the Guangzhou residents spending there Sunday morning. What did we see there? Mostly seniors, doing morning cardio involving eg. walking backwards, playing badminton, cultivating Tai Chi accompanied by relaxing Chinese music and dancing in pairs. I did not expect that! How actively spend their free time older generation of Guangzhou. When we looked at a dozen couples dancing, suddenly, Magda was asked to dance by one of the locals. Initially slightly confused, eagerly took advantage of the invitation :D


During our stay in Guangzhou we also visited the Chen Clan Academy, where we could see some traditional Chinese architecture from the XIX century.



Although still half the population of Chinese are atheists, there is growing number of followers. Especially in Buddhism and Christianity, of which I also visited some temples. This is how presented itself the Buddhist Temple of the Six Banyan Trees:



And the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the nineteenth century, which is the largest Roman Catholic religious building in the whole southern China. It was modeled on the Basilica of Sainte Clotilde in Paris.


Guangzhou very positively surprised me. The city is huge, but very accessible. Almost everywhere you can reach by the metro of 10 lines, which together have a 260 km long! All signs are in English, which helps with orientation in the city. However, having map it’s a must. Inhabitants doesn’t speak a word in English. I found it out when dodging small streets, which on the map didn’t even exist, while looking for some touristic objects.


The city fills a large amount of green areas. Every major street is accompanied by the line of trees. Guangzhou, also appears to be a city-ordered in terms of urban planning. Buildings corresponds with each others. Most of the skyscrapers are located in the business district, therefore there is no effect of chaos by randomly located towers in different parts of the city.


Even though is very difficult to communicate with residents, they seemed to be very friendly and willing to help. However their manners.. mildly said, are exotic. It is common wheezing, spitting, belching and farting. So, slightly different standards than ours. Nonetheless, I hope that soon I will visit two other cities, to which we fly – Beijing and Shanghai, from which I’ll definitely share with you my impressions :D


3 thoughts on “Green, contaminated city – Guangzhou, China

  1. Qing July 1, 2015 / 6:34 pm

    Really like your post!
    For most of the old generation in China, they never do gym but they are keen on dancing, jogging and “walking backward” in parks. :) CAN layover is very short u might not have time to enjoy the city at night. If u get PEK or PVG, try to look for any small square or park. You will find everyone come out after dinner to dance.
    Btw, Guangzhou is the least polluted city among the biggest 3, PEK,PVG,CAN. If u get a flight to PEK especially in winter time, the moment u step out of the aircraft u can already smell the smoke in the air!

    • FlyingPolack! July 3, 2015 / 7:15 pm

      Thanks for advices. Flying already 10 months and still only little part of China discovered so much. But hopefully in next few months the situation gonna change and “roster gods” will be more generous for me ;)

    • FlyingPolack! October 25, 2015 / 6:32 pm

      Thanks for the tip! Can’t wait to finally do PEK or PVG. One year of flying already and still haven’t been there yet. Hopefully, finally I’ll get some and then look forward for new post :)

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