The Old Quarters Within The New City Of Guangzhou.
As we’ve read in many articles about China, old parts of Chinese towns are often acquired by real estate sharks and then immediately demolished. People are relocated and stripped off their roots. Well, money makes the world go round as we sadly know, but in Guangzhou we got the impression that some areas and their residents are showing resistance to such practices.
If you start exploring the area just a little North of Shamian Island (Shamian itself has kept its beauty from the past – only the White Swan Hotel is a more modern building), you’ll walk through a very old part of this city. Of course it’s also interrupted with new buildings, but a lot of the area still has its original charm with “gated” communities. Beside bicycles and electric motorbikes, only pedestrians can be seen here, because the roads and walkways are too narrow for cars.
A city within the city.
Inside such a gated area, you’ll come across lots of vibrant outdoor activities all day long: Elderly residents meet in the street to play a game of Majong, others work out on gymnastic apparatuses and neighbours meet up in front of ones apartment. Washing is hung up in the street, while kids play soccer in some corners and old grannies walk along hand-in-hand in their pyjamas. Every area also has its own ‘shopping centre’ – its actually more like a market area, with all sorts of different stalls. You’ll find everything a Chinese family needs; from household goods, food, live poultry and fish, an adjoining post office, a hairdresser and a tea shop … and sometimes even a gambling shop, where you can play the lottery for example.
The local life here is very peaceful, while the hustle and bustle from the streets outside has no effect within the gates. At least this is what it looked like to us. We’ve never been into one of these flats though. Most probably they’re a bit crammed and small, but the residents still seem to enjoy their lives in the old quarters of Guangzhou.