Guangzhou #3: Temples and Parks

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Asia » China » Guangdong » Guangzhou
May 3rd 2019
Published: December 7th 2019
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To save money, I headed to McDonald's for breakfast, the whole thing (hash brown, McMuffin and coffee) was cheaper than the coffee I'd had in Starbucks the previous day. Saving a little cash is always good. The McDonald's was rammed, too, I didn't expect it to be so popular for breakfast. I had decided to see a couple of temples that morning. The first one wasn't too far away, so I headed there. The City God's Temple was built during the third year of the reign of Emperor Hongwu in 1370. The temple was originally an altar devoted to the enshrining and worshipping the guardian spirit of the city. However, during the Qing Dynasty, it was upgraded and rebuilt to become the City God's Temple. Only the main hall and pavilion survive from that time. The temple had a reall local feel about it. There were grandparents looking after their playing grandchildren in front of the temple. Due to Its rather small size and the larger apartment buildings behind it, it felt like the temple was really nestled in the neighbourhood. The temple was pretty small, so it didn't take me long to walk around it. There was a museum next to the temple, but I decided to stick with my original plan and head to the other temple wanted to visit.

I walked along the same street I had the day before to reach the Chen Clan Academy, but turned off to reach the temple. This was a smaller side street, which was a lot narrower. I thought I would see the temple well before I arrived as I expected a big, grand entrance but it was rather low key. The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees was originally built in 537 AD. It was originally called Baozhuangyan Temple, but after a fire during the reign of the Northern Song Dynasty, it was rebuilt and renamed after a poem written by Su Shi, which called Six Banyans (Liu Rong) honouring the temple. The temple was quite busy with people who had come to pay their respects, monks, and others just chilling. The Flower Pagoda is in the centre of the temple complex, so I headed there first to take a look around. The pagoda was really pretty and reminded me of other ones I had seen on my travels. I then took a walk around the other buildings, they were nice, but nothing amazing.

I had a bit of a walk to my next destination, Yuexiu Park. It took about 30-40 minutes and wasn't very scenic as I wads either walking next to or over busy roads. It was rather hot and humid so to keep my energy up I got a cold drink and some sweeties, I really crave sugar when it's really hot. I came to the entrance of the park and headed up the hill to the main part. I was surprised that there was no entrance fee to enter the park, always a bonus. The park contaons quite a few attractions and the first one I came to was the Old City Wall. This piece ofwall is over 600 years old and was built in 1380 and is the only part left. The groundwork was built with red sandstone and the wall itself was made from huge pieces of steel grey bricks and sand dust. I walked to the start of this section of the wall. decided not to walk on the actual wall for some reason and took the walkway next to it. The walkway was probably easier and step free, always a bonus. I came to some signs that were talking about the Water Tower of Mount Yuexiu. Guangzhou had four water tower. The first one, Xiguan Tower, was built in 1908 and the second one, Dongshan Tower, was built in 1928. These were both destroyed by the Japanese army. Yuexiu Tower was built in 1931 and served the city until 1999 (the two signs I came across gave conflicting dates). The fourth tower wads Shamian Tower. Call me stupid, but I couldn't actually see the tower. I had thought that maybe it was higher up the slope or hidden in the trees because I saw nothing.

I took the path uphill and continued to the top where I came to the Sun Yat-sen Monument. To be honest, it wasn't that interesting as the cultural significance is lost on me and there were no views from the outside platform. There were many different paths branching off around the park and I picked one as the signpost mentioned things I hadn't seen. I came to a large building that required an emtrance fee. There was no English on the sign above the tocket office, so I had no idea what the place was. I conrinued on my walk and soon on the opposite side of the road, there was a huge sports stadium. This just shows how big China is, as hidden away in the park is a huge stadium. China never ceases to amaze me. There were a couple of sight tucked away on a small high, so I veered off the main path to take a look at those. The first was the Pavilion of Regaining. This was built to remember the contribution the people of Hong Kong made in the 1911-12 revolution. Further up the hill, I came to the Pavilion of Seamen. This pavilion was built in 1933, to remember the seamen who had claimed an important labour victory a decade earlier. The Hong Kong seamen had went on strike in 1922 to protest the subletting of labor and to Gain better treatment and higher wages. More than 10,000 of the seamen went on strike and left Hong Kong returning home to Guangzhou. As an act of solidarity, 100,000 workers from other industries joined the strike. After 56 days of negotiation, the seamen won. It was nice to find out this small slice of history.

The next part of my walk took me to another area of the park. I came across a cute kitty hiding in the bushes. There were some houses in this section of the park. I presumed that they were for the park workers, but the ones facing the road looked abandoned and derelict, however there did seem to be some signs of life in the ones behind as there was washing out drying on the line in the sun. I Also found out why the kitty was hiding in the bushes, as therevwas a woman leaving food out for cats. The walk downhill took me to a nice area with a couple of lakes. One was very peaceful with some lotuses growing in it. The other was set up for families and friends with lots of boats for hire to take around it. I naturally gravitated to the quieter one and enjoyed a walk along the path next to it. I headed back deeper into the park and up another hill. I followed the signs to some monument at the top of that hill. I forget the name of it now, but I wasn't vey impressed by it at all. It definitely didn't warrant the effort put in to the uphill excursion. Next, I came to a small garden with a couple of tiny waterfalls and some cool looking stone statues, they reminded me of those statues you see in the Easter Island, but a bit more Asian. From here, I came across another garden, but it required a lot of walknig uphill and because it was quite busy, I decided to skip it. I was right next ro one of the entrance/exits to the park so decided to make use of it.

I am definitely a creature of habit and a lover of sushi, so I decided to head back to Genki Sushi as it was on my way home and only about a 40 minute walk from the park. It should have been straught forward, but I forgot to take one of the overpasses and ended up having to take a different route as there was no option to cross the road without doubling back, which I didn't want to do. However, my unexpected detour provided me with a nice surprise. I came across the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The gardens looked beautiful and really well cared for so I went for a walk around them. The memorial hall was completed in 1931 and was designed by Lu Yanzhi. The building is in the centre of the garden. I walked up to it, but decided against going inside because there was a queue for ticketd and I wasn't in the mood for alk the security. There was also a large statue of Sun Yat Sen in front of the memorial hall. There were also display boards lining the garden of the memorial hall, which I think detailed Sun Yat Sen's life, but everything was in Chinese. After my nice little detour, I continued on and came to the mall. I headed up to the sushi place and ate loads of sushi. After that it was time to head back to the hostel for a late afternoon nap.

I was unsure what to do in the evening, I could explore a new area, but all the 'best' night places I read about online seemed to be either bar streets or shopping streets, neither of which greatly interest me. Since I had enjoyed my walk the other night in the vicinity of the Canton Tower, I decided to head back that way, but change my route a little. At first, I walked along the street I was staying on instead of heading down to the river. The streets were so quiet and a lot of the businesses were shut. It was such a contrast to the area where I was staying and all in a couple of hundred metres. I headed back to Ersha Island and instead of taking the middle road through the island, I took the one by the water. This one was quite a bit more lively. There were lots of groups of families and friends out enjoying themselves. There were also a couple malls with Starbucks and the like. Once again, I had grest views of the Canton Tower and Zhujiang New Town. I loved looking at all the skyscrapers. This time, I decided to cross the bridge so that I could get closer to the Canton Tower. The views from the bridge were great but as I descended on the other side I entered the madness. There were so many people as the boats docked here and the people were disembarking and others were queuing up to get on. The street was also cordoned off as people lay in the road to get the perfect Canton Tower selfie. It was cool to see the tower closer, but it was just so busy. I made my way to the base of the tower and enjoyed seeing it up close, but too many people. The subway was mental and there was no way I had the patience to join the queue to use it. I searched the next nearest subway station, but it was miles away. I made the decision to walk back eventhough it would probably kill my legs. My map app suggested a different route to the one I had used to reach the tower, so after crossing back over the bridge, I took the new route. It was weird as I was soon walking along by the river with so few people around. I do love how China goes from one extreme to the other so quickly. I followed a smaller river inland and walked through a much more residential area. It was so quiet eventhough there were a few other people around. After a while, I hit the main street and this was a little busier. There were still quite a few shops and restaurants open. I then headed alimg another very quiet street and passed through what I think was a univeristy area, it was rather quiet although I did see one pub that looked pretty lively. After a while, I came to the road I had started on earlier in the evening. I was pretty knackered but needed a quick bite to eat before I could head to bed.

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