"If you have time for but one
  province in China, Yunnan should
  be it.
"
           
- Lonely Planet
 

 

Volunteer in Kunming, Yunnan,
a city with year-round Spring weather. Trips to 26 cultures &
5 nearby countries.

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Guangzhou


The city of Guangzhou, Guangdong province’s populous capital in southern China is more popular to the West by its former name of Canton. For foreigners, the word “Cantonese” popularly points at both the local language and the admired cuisine. As a major sea port and a part of the "Maritime Silk Road" that linked Chinese trade with South-East Asia, India, the Middle East, and Africa Guangzhou was a prominent entry point for overseas culture in history. Continuing into the present day, the city’s capacity to generate more job opportunities coupled with its proximity to Hong Kong and Macau has made it more cosmopolitan than other provincial cities. Consequently travelers feel more at ease in this warm subtropical city. Guangzhou is a wonderful port on the Pearl River and is navigable to the
South China Sea.

On account of being one of the first cities to be benefited from the Reform and Opening Up policy in 1978, Guangzhou has been one of the fore-runners of Chinese economic development in the last decades. With thousands of large, small and medium-sized enterprises, Guangzhou is the main manufacturing hub of the Pearl River Delta; mainland China's leading commercial and manufacturing belt. The China Import and Export Fair, also called "Canton Fair" is a major event held every year in April and October by Ministry
of Trading.

Guangzhou is famous for its unique local handicrafts which include ivory carvings, intricate Jade sculpture, Cantonese enamel ceramic pottery, embroidery and antique wood sculpture. A visit to galleries and exhibition spaces is a must for an understanding of Cantonese arts. Traditional arts like Cantonese opera, an art form involving music, martial arts, acrobatics and acting is popular in this part of the country. The city has stretches of green spaces in the form of urban parks in between residential blocks which serve for cultural recreation and ecological tourism. Like each city has its different faces the traditional neighborhoods of old Guangzhou are unlike the industrial Guangzhou and moves at the laid back pace of a provincial town with families often sitting and chatting outdoors. A rich variety of fruits grow in this province giving it the national acclaim of “ Hometown of Fruits”.

There are a lot of opportunities to explore and experience for the new traveler - the Pearl River night cruise and the Yuexiu park, the Sun Yat Sen memorial being a few. Travelling in the city will be particularly easy with the Guangzhou underground train service. Guangzhou is the fourth city in China to have an underground railway system, behind Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Another highlight of the city is its famous cooking. Cantonese cuisine enjoys a great prestige among the eight great traditions of Chinese cooking. It is therefore advisable for the tourists to try this unique cuisine made from meat, vegetables, dried plant items and seafood which is either steamed, stir fried or deep fried. Sauces are generally lighter and less spicy than those used in other regions of mainland China.

1.  Visit Guangzhou’s biggest manmade urban park, the Yuexiu Park

Yuexiu Park, named after Yuexiu Mountain is the largest urban park in Guangzhou covering an area of 860,000 square meters (212.5 acres). Built in 1952 this man-made park is a tribute to the contemporary concept of ecological tourism and Giangzhou’s traditional culture built on local history and folklore. The park is made up of three artificial lakes and seven hills of the Yuexiu Mountain. The pristine greenery and the lakes impart a certain serenity to this place that a city dweller will come to enjoy.

Historical sculpture and popular folklore has contributed to the indigeneity of the structures like the stone sculpture of the Five Rams, Zhenhai Tower, the Ancient City Wall of the Ming Dynasty or the Zhongshan Monument. These structures came up different periods in Chinese history. The sculpture of Five Rams is the symbol of Guangzhou. Legend has it that five gods wearing robes of five different colors came to Guangzhou on the backs of rams carrying sheaves of rice in the ram’s mouths and gave it to the Guangzhou people so that the raging famine might end. The Zhenhai Tower sits atop the last remaining piece of Guangzhou's city wall. It provides one of the clearest view of the city and the neighboring Baiyun mountains. Originally built in 1380 during the Ming dynasty, the tower has seen much upheaval, resulting in it being destroyed and rebuilt a total of five times.

2.  Stopover famous Buddhist temples – Get a picture of Guangzhou’s cultural heritage

One of the definite cultural attractions in Guangzhou is its Buddhist Temples and monk retreats. Breathing an atmosphere of exotic oriental culture and Zen Buddhism, these temples with their unique architectural styles, their colorful designs and golden Buddhas offer a peek into the present day practices of this living religion.

Going back 1400 years in history, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is one of the four best Buddhist temples in Guangzhou. Originally built in 537 A.D., the shrine has been rebuilt and renamed several times, from Changshou Temple (meaning Longevity Temple) to Jinghui Temple to its present name. The Six Banyan Pagoda or the Flowery Pagoda is stunning in its structural design. The roofs curving upwards are fashioned in the shape of dark red petals of a flower. The tip of the pagoda is like the stamen while the whole edifice looks like a huge stigma in the air. It is a pagoda of Buddhist relics.

Guangxiao Si or the Bright Filial Piety Temple is one of the grandest Buddhist temple and pilgrimage sites. The famous Chan (Chinese Zen) master, Hui Neng, practiced here during the Southern Song Dynasty in the 7th century. The many noted monks and sutra-translators who have resided here have contributed greatly to the spread of Buddhist culture in and around China. There are unique Buddhist sculptures and hallways in this temple complex, each symbolizing an ideal of Buddhism. In 1961, the Temple was designated by the State Council as a Key National Cultural Preservation Site.

One of the five largest Buddhist temples in Guangzhou with a large following of monks, the Hualin Temple was built during the reign of the Southern Dynasties. Legend has it that the temple was built after the arrival of the Indian monk, Dharma, hence the original name Xilai (literally "visitor from the West") Temple. The temple has Indian Jain and Buddhist influences. In 1654 the temple was expanded and renamed to Hualin Temple. The Five-Hundred-Arhat Hall was built in the last year of Emperor Daoguang in the early 19th century. A Pagoda is erected to the Indian King Asoka, who was responsible for the spread of Buddhism in the Southeast Asian nations. There is also a statue of Marco Polo, the Italian explorer who came to China in the 13th century.

The Dafo Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in south China. Aged more than a thousand years this temple was built during the Southern Han Dynasty it reached prosperity during the Qing Dynasty. The Dafo Temple houses the first Buddhist public library in Guangdong province. 664 square meters with more than 40,000 books and 8,000 volumes, the library is a modern facility. It is a professional Buddhist library, occasionally offering Buddhist courses or discussion classes for young people and Zen courses

3.  The Pearl River runs through it!

China’s third longest river the Pearl River, measuring 2,129 meters in length runs through Guangzhou imparting a singular beauty to the city. Many famous scenic spots of Guangdong are located along the river. The prosperous urban landscape of high rises and shopping malls makes a walk through the ‘Scenery Corridor' along the river a refreshing experience. The evening cruise on the Pearl River is one of the tourist highlights in Guangzhou. With city lights shimmering on the clear dark waters, the Pearl River’s splendor at night is no less than Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor. The cruise section from the White Goose Pool to Guangzhou Bridge is the best part of the Pearl River cruise.

4.  Take a relaxing trip up to Baiyun Shan

The White Cloud Mountain, Baiyun Shan in Guangzhou's northeastern suburbs is a nice relaxing getaway . It is the ending range of the Dayu Mountains in the south. Standing up over the flat area of the Pearl River Delta it is a natural reserve with rich resources of wild animals and plants. Only about 17 kilometers north of Guangzhou, Baiyun Shan is best known for its scenic natural beauty. Wreaths of cloud encircle this lush mountain after sunny spells following rain giving it this evocative name. This natural park has forest coverage of almost 98.5%, boasting a natural wealth of 1,991 kinds of plants, age-old trees, exotic flowers and wildlife. The mountain is like a transition watershed from the semi-tropical climate of the northern China to the warm temperate zone of south China.

The White Cloud Mountain stretches for 28 square kilometers and has more than 30 peaks. Moxing Ridge (Star-Scraping Ridge), known as 'The first peak under the southern sky', is about 382 meters high. You can stand on the summit and have a great view of the city and the Pearl River. The road to the top is restricted to park trams and pedestrians. You can get to the viewing point in cable cars to the top or walking up on mountain trails. Along the way you shall find places to rest and take refreshments. Six areas of this natural phenomenon are particularly appreciated by tourists. Bright Pearl Building Park, the San tailing Summit Park, the Bird Spring Valley Park (Mingchun Valley), the Santailing Park, the Luhu Park and the Fei'eling Park. The Yuntai Garden at the foot of the mountain is famous for its wide variety of rare flowers and trees. Every year there is a beautiful 3-D flower exhibit.


Travel from Kunming to Guangzhou
Kunming to Guangzhou is about a day’s journey by train. There are also cheap non-stop flights to Guangzhou.

 

 

Impact Abroad provides International Volunteering & Community Service Opportunities
to people in the western world to help children in Yunnan, China

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