Everything has improved remarkably…the food, the familiar faces, the language. Even the stifling heat and humidity are reminiscent of living in Hong Kong. Of course, the visual scene has changed significantly, and I can say it is virtually unrecognizable. The sleepy colonial version of the city is hidden or missing, and I have no bearings to the city. I headed over to a pedestrian street that was another recommended “must see”, known as Beijing Jie.
The first exciting discovery came from archaeological findings dating back to the Song, Ming, and Yuan Dynasties. In renovating the street in 2006, various layers of the street gates were unearthed. The pavings were preserved and covered in glass so you could see the different generations of paving for this ancient street. Now that was a thrill!
The second came from the wide, but short shopping street for locals. It was Friday night, and everyone was happily shopping or appeared to be. All the usual knockoffs but no top of the line. In the mix were a variety of clever crafts shops made modern and food vendors that differed from the one in Chengdu. These were less touristy and more for the local resident population.
Try Peking Duck sold by a duck skinner paired with an assistant who spread the plum sauce on a crepe and assembling just the right amount of duck. Four pre-rolled snacks for 10 Kwai, or $1.66. I bought some moon cakes and dried pork for my relatives in the Chinese version of Fouchon, all nicely packaged but primarily again for locals only. Lots of original designs and clever spins on old crafts.
And third, a great subway system is in place. I could easily figure it how to get back to the hotel without a hitch. All for the price of 3 Kwai or 50 cents. The high rises are staggering and similar to those in Chengdu, but with less night lighting.
Everyone on the subway missed my taking photos of them because they were intent on their smartphones and thought I was intent on mine. They never bothered to look up or be bothered.
Photos, from top, left to right:
1. There’s a Hi-rise city coming your way…
2. Beijing Street
3. Unearthing of Song, Ming and Yuan Dynasty Street paving and gates below glass at street level
4. Peking Duck to go for a song
5. Electronic big screen ads rival Picadilly or Times Square
6. Man still shops for daily greens al fresco despite modernization
7. Inside Guangzhou Metro station
8. Cell phone mania inside train–a world-wide phenomenon
9. Metro floor graphics for crowd control