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Old May 27th, 2011, 05:09 AM   #1
Pansori
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Guangzhou: the megacity of Southern China

Guangzhou was my second leg of the quick China tour I did in April. After exploring the ultra-modern and hyper-dynamic Shenzhen I took a one-hour CRH train ride to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province and China's 3rd largest city with a population of 12.7 million people. It's a big city and it feels so.

It has to be noted that Guangzhou is effectivelly within commuting distance from Shenzhen and all other urban centers in the Pearl River Delta which effectively makes it a part of what has become one of world's largest urban areas. It has been announced that the cities of Pearl River Delta are to be transformed into one huge megapolis by creating better transportation links and integrating various aspects of public transport and communications between the existing cities.

Guangzhou, unlike Shenzhen, is not a new city. It's been there for over 2000 years. Despite expecting some grit and evidences of an old city I found a city having undergone (and still largely undergoing) a complete and uttermost transformation which I would describe not as just a 'facelift' or an 'upgrade' but rather a complete rebuilding of the vast city. Something that is hard to imagine even in theory but something that seems to be happening in China these days and for the past few decades. I was impressed. Very impressed. Perhaps more impressed than I had ever been before in my life. I simply could not believe what I was seeing because I could not even imagine such amount of construction work taking place just about everywhere I went.

Anyway, some quick background on Guangzhou first.


Map:


Those thick yellow roads are expressways. Guangzhou as all PRD in general has one hell of a motorway network




A video preview
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Old May 27th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #2
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1. First thing I got to see was the metro. I had to take Line 1 from Guanzghou East Railway Station to Fangcun which was 12 stops away to the West... the train looks empty because it was a terminal station. However later I got to realise that Line 1 is pretty much always crowded and gets really bad during peak times. Currently Guangzhou has 8 metro lines and is about to add another nine by 2020. At present system route length is 236km with 144 stations. By 2020 it should be around 600km in route length and be one of the largest metro systems in the world. In fact it already is in top-10 in terms of size and passenger volumes. This is freakin impressive considering that the first line opened in 1997... things are happening quickly there


2. Fangcun area in Liwan district where I will be staying in my lovely and charming hostel. About 12km away from Guangzhou East station and Tianhe CBD


3. Changdi Street. A quiet and leafy street near the riverside accompanied by riverside walk and a small park. It seems there are quite a few restaurants and hotels there too. Just a nice looking place and certainly great place to stay in a hostel. It's going to get more buzzy in the night


4. Interesting low-rise architecture


5. Riverside walk


6. Pearl River
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Old May 27th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #3
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7. A small but very lovely riverside park. Lots of places to sit down and enjoy the place. I have noticed, especially in the evening, there are lots of couples kissing and snogging everywhere in that park... I even started feeling weird walking around with my camera


8. Riverside International Youth Hostel. This is the place I stayed at. I would highly recommend it for those who travel to GZ and need affordable, contemporary yet fun and charming accommodation. Great place to meet people from around the world and China itself (as it is with all good hostels, I guess)


9. Views around Changdi street. Thi is going to be my place for the next few days. It's really quiet and instantly feels like home.


10. The area is packed with bars and restaurants


11.


12.


More coming soon
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Old May 27th, 2011, 12:38 PM   #4
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Nice photos from Guangzhou
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Old May 27th, 2011, 12:46 PM   #5
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Great, underrated city!
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Old May 27th, 2011, 12:56 PM   #6
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GZ is big and messy!

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Old May 28th, 2011, 01:14 AM   #7
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Best threads are the ones with some comments explaining what we see in the picture + personal opinions...well done
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Old May 28th, 2011, 03:15 AM   #8
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Nice!
I'm waiting for more pics!
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Old May 29th, 2011, 02:36 AM   #9
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Time to carry on with the photos...

13. Another metro ride.


14.
Guangzhou South metro station... absolutely spontaneously I decided to pay a quick visit to Guangzhou South Railway station


15. The Guangzhou South Railway station. This is some small corner of the building. The building itself is just sick massive. Looks and feels more like a huge airport than a train station. Although for most part it still felt empty and quiet, no shops, cafes or oether places to hang around. I guess it will take some time for this Station to get into full steam. That should happen once Guangzhou-Zhuhai ICL will be fully operational and take most of the Guangzhou-Macau traffic (especially during weekends ) as well as the new HK-Guangzhou explress line will start running full service some time in 2014.
http://static3.businessinsider.com/i...-this-year.jpg


16. A fast-forward jump to a different location: Guangzhou Railway Station. If anyone thoguht that Guangzhou South was unnecessarily big and underused I suggest visiting this place... it feels really crowded all around. I can only imagine what must be happening in this square during the new year holiday season. That's when you understand why China needs all those massive stations and new railways. Because the existing ones are simply overloaded.


17. Guangzhou Station square. Lots of interesting characters all around. All of a sudden a small police car rushed into the place and the policeman started shouting something via the speaker. A dozen or so of shabby looking individuals all of a sudden got up and abandoned the space. Not sure what was going on. Perhaps they were selling something illegally? Most of them were wearing round caps and looked different from most other people. Nearby a number of similar-looking men were praying facing one direction.



18. Metro station. Metro stations in Guangzhou are modern and spacious with some spaces dedicated to retail units. Quite similar to Hong Kong metro from what I remember

Last edited by Pansori; May 29th, 2011 at 02:59 AM.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 02:53 AM   #10
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19.A quick jump to another location - Zhujiang New Town. A masive multi-billion $ development on the bank of Pearl River. One of the "megaprojects" that are happening in almost every major Chinese city these days. It's meant to become the most iconic and modern CBD in Guangzhou... for now. It's still a massive construction site all around but even now it all looks simply stunning. Just WOW. And I don't mean just the skyscrapers but also the whole urban environment: streets, parks, squares, pedestrian walks... everything is so nice and convenient. Even late by night there are quite a few people coming there just to hang around and enjoy the lovely night views


20. Currently Guanzghou's tallest - 440m high Guangzhou International Finance Center. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects


21.


22. On the other side of tiver there is Canton Tower, a 600m tall TV/Observation Tower which, if I'm not mistaken and if Wikipedia is correct, is the 3rd tallest freestanding structure in the world today (after Burj Khalifa and Tokyo Sky Tree). Although it will be overtaken by Shanghai Tower and perhaps some other projects over the next few years. One thing I must say, however, that this must be the most beautiful and impressive building I have ever seen. Just absolutely stunning. Especially once you're near it. More photos later...


23.


24.


25. Environment in Lingjiang Avenue
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Old May 29th, 2011, 02:57 AM   #11
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26. 178m high CC Tower, built recently. Unfortunately I couldn't fund any info on this building. It's really interesting and one of my favorites in Guangzhou


27.


28. 2010 Amphitheater in Haixinsha island built for 2010 Asian Games which Guangzhou was proudly hosting


29. It seems every evening there is some kind of music, light and fountain show. Best observed form another bank of the river (which I will do later)


30.From left: International Finance Place, designed by HK's Rocco Design Limited, Guangzhou IFC, by Wilkinson Eyre, and [forefront, lowrise building] Guangzhou Opera designed by Zaha Hadid herself


31.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 04:42 AM   #12
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Seeing you again Pansori..
I was born in Shenzhen and receiving my university education in Guangzhou now.On holidays I would go back to SZ,it's fantastic to live in two megacities.
In Guangzhou you should go to some old districts and old residential blocks to taste the local Lingnan culture,it's more interesting than the skyscrapers in Zhujiang New Town IMO.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 04:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Konta View Post
Seeing you again Pansori..
I was born in Shenzhen and receiving my university education in Guangzhou now.On holidays I would go back to SZ,it's fantastic to live in two megacities.
In Guangzhou you should go to some old districts and old residential blocks to taste the local Lingnan culture,it's more interesting than the skyscrapers in Zhujiang New Town IMO.
I was thinking to go and see some old parts of the city but unfortunately I realized I wouldn't have enough time for that. Nonetheless I was visiting quite a number of places besides the Zhujiang New Town. Guangzhou is simply too big to be seen in 3 days. I think it takes at least a week for that. My feet and all muscles were hurting every day from walking excessive distances and by the evenings I started walking like a cripple because my feet used to start hurting from walking 12+ hours a day despite wearing comfortable shoes. But I guess it won't be long before I'll be back so I'll definitely see everything that needs to be seen.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 01:27 PM   #14
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The Chinese seem to be the new Americans - doing everything on a massive scale! Did you make it to Shamian Island?
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Old May 29th, 2011, 03:17 PM   #15
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Nice set of photos. Metro stations don't seem to be that busy.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
The Chinese seem to be the new Americans - doing everything on a massive scale! Did you make it to Shamian Island?
Well, the similarity is that they are doing it on a big scale as Americans back in early 20th century and in the 50's with the interstate system... other than that it seems they do things in a rather different way. I mean attention to public transport, passenger railways and high-rise living. Something that is very different from America. The urban fabric and planning ideas of cities are totally different. I guess this is understandable because population density is much higher.

I went to Shamian Islant too. It's a lovely place. I'll post photos from there a bit later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ni3lS View Post
Nice set of photos. Metro stations don't seem to be that busy.
Don't get a wrong impression. The only reason why it looks empty is because in the trains I would never start taking photos when it's crowded so I tried to catch moments when there were no people inside (terminal stations). And the empty station you see is the Guangzhou South Rail station metro. The rail station itself is not fully functional yet so it will take some time for things to pick up. Other than that Guangzhou metro is indeed quite busy. I was mostly using line 1 and believe me, it's crowded pretty much any time of day. And if you want to use it during morning/evening rush prapare for some serious discomfort and extreme crowding. In fact after a few rides like that I started avoiding using it during rush hours and instead tried to spend my time doing something else than riding metro. They really need to increase capacity and build new lines. Although this is precisely what they are doing right now which is great.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 12:43 AM   #17
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Continued



32. A poster in a metro station showing how to and how not to behave. I love the idea.


33.


34. Metro map. The system is under heavy expansion and should at least double in size over the next few years reaching 600km by 2020.


35. Ticket machines. You can simply select the destination or simply choose the fare amount if you know what it should be.


36. M-touch... I have no idea what that is



37.


38. Ticket gates accept RFID tokens or multi-use RFID cards which can also be used for transport in other cities in the PRD


39. Fangcun area late in the evening. Changdi street (the same empty street we saw in the beginning). I noticed those girls lining near entrances of some buildings in a number of different locations... they were bowing to everyone entering the premises (all men). I wasn't sure why they were doing that. Later I got to figure out that it seemingly was some massage parlor (actually a number of them. Maybe 3 or 4?)... I don't know if massage was the only thing they were doing there but I did not have time or will to find out. Anyway, some of those girls (not all, and not even most) looked quite hot


40. On the opposite bank of the river
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:26 AM   #18
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41. The same Changdi street in Fangcun


42. Some lovely public spaces near the river


43. Morning in the same area


44.


45. I've tried Harbin beer. It's ok.


46. Audi A6 must be the most popular premium car in China. It's really common in Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The difference from Europe is that in China it's only sold as A6L i.e. long wheelbase version which makes the car about 8cm longer and 1 or 2 cm taller. For some reason Chinese prefer larger cars. Then again, it's more practical I guess. Although if to be 100% practical the best option would be an estate version. Something I haven't seen much of in China but something you'll see everywhere in Germany
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:33 AM   #19
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A short video showing some views of Fangcun where I stayed for 3 days. I really liked the area. Very peaceful, somewhat slow-going and good options for eating, drinking or simply relaxing near the river while being convenient for transport



47. Nearby Mingxin Road


48. If your brain stopped functioning the hospital is here to help



49.


50. Fangcun East Avenue. I don't know how is this snack called or if it even has some specific name but I tried it and it's very delicious. It's basically a pancake with a fried egg and some meat inside. Yummy... although it's quite greasy so I wouldn't eat more than two at once. Should be an excellent snack with beer. It costed 2RMB for one. Lots of other snacks and desserts sold in the place


51. Pictures of the Chairman Mao can be purchased here... I'm now feeling sorry I didn't buy one. I will next time. I'd also like to buy a picture of Sun Yat Sen and Deng Xiaoping

Last edited by Pansori; May 30th, 2011 at 02:12 AM.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 04:48 AM   #20
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love this thread, keep it coming.
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