Atsushi Miyamoto / Marubeni Footwear Resources Limited., Guangzhou Office
Guangzhou, the sub-provincial city in Guangdong Province, is China’s third largest city after Beijing and Shanghai, and the largest city of industry and commerce in Southern China. Guangzhou has a population of around eight million and a subtropical climate, with an average temperature in the summer (from late May to mid-September) of almost 30°C that sometimes reaches a high of 40°C. But Guangzhou is “hot” not only in terms of temperature, it is also an energetic and vibrant city that embodies Chinese expansion in recent years.
(1) Where the consummate cuisine is
They say that “all the delicious food is in Guangzhou,” and one cannot mention Guangzhou without talking about its Cantonese cuisine which is renowned throughout the world. Guangzhou has a rich food culture, exemplified by the saying: “The Cantonese will eat anything that flies except an airplane and anything with four legs except a table and chairs”. Cantonese cuisine includes Yum Cha (originally meaning “tea drinking”), which refers to the entire experience of enjoying a wide range of light dishes called Dim Sum along with Chinese tea, as well as seafood delicacies such as shark fin and abalone (although the popularity of enjoying wild animals as delicacies has decreased drastically since the SARS epidemic in 2003).
In the suburbs of the city there are markets selling not only dogs, cats, and rabbits, but also snakes, turtles, and tanuki (raccoon-dogs) for use as food. At a dinner with a business acquaintance, it is not uncommon for dishes such as snake, frog, or pigeon to be brought out.
(2) A first-hand view of the “Factory to the World”
The Guangzhou Trade Fair is the largest comprehensive export commodities fair in China, which attracts a wide range of goods from every region of the country. In fact, during the course of the semiannual trade fair all of the hotels in Guangzhou are booked solid and room rates are hiked up to three times the normal rates. There are various wholesale districts and markets in the city that are densely packed with countless shops, each specializing in a single line of goods, such as toys, chandeliers, or what have you. It is quite a sight and gives one the chance to experience first hand why China is regarded as the “Factory to the World”.
(3) Breakneck taxi rides
While mass transit networks such as subways and fixed-route buses have been developed within the city, taxis are the characteristic mode of transportation in Guangzhou. One curious point is that, although there are normally taxis everywhere you look, it is next to impossible to hail one when it rains. By far the most interesting and distinctive element of the Guangzhou taxi experience, however, is the fact that the majority of the taxi drivers are “speed demons.” This may seem fortunate when you are really in a hurry, but death-defying rides with frenetic passing, abrupt lane changes, and cutting in on other vehicles are run-of-the-mill in Guangzhou taxis.
Due to its rapid expansion, there are still plenty of things that seem inconvenient and puzzling in Guangzhou and the air and water quality leave much to be desired. Regardless of any such shortcomings or challenges, however, Guangzhou is a “hot” city where one can get a true sense of China’s power.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.48(November, 2008)