In February 2011, I spent a day in the city of Guangzhou on my way to find someplace warm. I haven’t been to this city in a couple years, so I was curious to see what had changed. The city was host to the 2010 Asian Games and it had a large building boom in anticipation. I first noticed that instead of taking a bus from the airport, I could take a new subway line directly into downtown.
I spent my time walking around Zhujiang New Town, a new downtown development. The owner of the hostel I stayed at mentioned they are trying to make something like Manhattan, NYC here. I could see they were building it from the ground up with new subway lines at the bottom, a park above that, flanked on both sides with new sky scrapers. I later saw a one building, the Pearl River Tower, on a TV documentary for being a very energy efficient building, including wind turbines in the middle.
On the other side of the river is the iconic Canton Tower. It is one of the tallest free standing structures in the world. In March of 2008, I wrote in my blog that I saw a model of Guangzhou in a museum and couldn’t believe a tower that was twice as tall as everything else in the city. One of the interesting things about China is fantasy does turn into reality.
After Guangzhou, I took the train to Shenzhen. Too bad I was a little too early, because a pair of world class high-speed rail stations and a new high-speed line between the cities was not finished yet. This new line includes a tunnel under the Pearl River, rated at 350km/h, the only tunnel rated at such a speed in the world. Eventually, there will high speed service all the way to Hong Kong. A few months after my visit the Shenzhen metro system tripled in size too.
In Shenzhen, I met Andy (the Beijing art student) since his family lives here. Since it was still the week of Chinese New Year, his family went out for Guangdong style hot pot and I was invited. It isn’t spicy like Sichuan style but everything else is similar.
I also had a chance to see the electronics market in Shenzhen. Unfortunately, most of it was closed because of the holiday. Andy and I did take a day trip to Hong Kong however.
Hong Kong was the first place in Asia I ever visited (June 2007), but I haven’t returned until now. The border crossing was interesting because it was done by subway and walking. The subway stops at the border and then I walked on a bridge over a river which was the border between China and Hong Kong. On the other side, I got in another train and look it the rest of the way. Hong Kong didn’t seem as crazy as I remember it the first time. I think I’m more used to everything now, so there wasn’t any culture shock.
Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong are all racing to build and I noticed all three have recently completed buildings that are in the top 10 tallest in the world:
- Guangzhou International Finance Center (Completed 2010)
- ShenzhenÂ Kingley 100 (Completed 2011)
- Hong KongÂ International Commerce Center (Completed 2010)