Category Archives: China

After Chinese New Year

Kumquat fruits spilling over the asphalt from a discarded Lunar New Year Tree

After Chinese New Year

A few  days ago I wrote about Chinese New Year and how much it reminds me of Christmas In Europe.

After the Christmas season ends in Germany I always felt this hungover, sombre mood, certain sense of emptiness and the longing for the next time. Today I usually celebrate Christmas in Singapore but I still feel it. My observation is that  many Chinese feel very similar after Chinese New Year celebrations.

After Christmas Germans usually discard their Christmas trees to collection points by the road. Chinese have Kumquat trees in their houses for Lunar New Year celebrations and discard them to collection points roughly a week after New Year.

The sight of these abandoned trees reflects the hangover mood. In this picture a tree toppled over and the fruits spilled over the road. Some are already crushed by cars and they seem to fade away like the memories of the festivities.

Happy Chinese New Year

A man walks through the rain in front of a shop window decorated for Chinese New Year

Happy Lunar New Year

A slow shutter photo of people shopping for Lunar New Year decorations in a mall

Shopping for Chinese New Year

The time around Chinese New Year feels very much like Christmas season in Germany. The city is nicely decorated and festive markets are set up. People are full of expectations and there is this deep feeling of comfort. The rituals and the childhood memories nurture it. But it is about bonding with our families and our fellows in the same culture and country by sharing emotions. On the other side it is a stressful time for everyone , preparing, planning, shopping…

Chinese New Year is for foreigners a difficult time in many places of Asia. Often it is crowded, expensive and many cities come to total stand still, most businesses including grocery shops and restaurants are closed. Add to this all the taboos and superstitions when interacting with others. I have been so often in Saigon for Chinese New Year and there it was not my favourite time.

But in Guangzhou it is a nice time. The city empties, no rush hours or queues. And enough stores and pubs stay open. Also people tend to be easy and not very superstitious. I usually stay here for the New Year and work and instead travel a bit later.

Here are some more impressions of Guangzhou’s New Year decorations

Bridge and buildings at the Pearl River beautifully illuminated

New Year’s Eve on the Pearl River

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy New Year of the Dog

The Pearl River Delta Megalopolis

Guangzhou is not very well known outside China and Foshan, Dongguan and Shenzhen are even less. So a few introductory remarks are helpful.

These 4 cities grew together into the largest urban conglomerate surpassing Tokyo with over 60 million inhabitants now and are the biggest manufacturing centre of China and the whole world.

The Pearl River Delta forms a triangle with Macao and Hong Kong on the base and Guangzhou on the top and the other cities in between.

Black and white photography of a wide avenue and tall buildings with high contrast. A small solitary human silhouette crosses the street

Morning in the CBD

 

When I first arrived in 2012 I had some idea what to expect from my experience in other cities of Asia but nevertheless I was surprised how dynamic,  modern and well organised this area is. It is really a powerhouse.

 

 

 

 

Sunset over a 10 lane avenue packed with cars. Huge buildings and bright billboards overlooking the avenue

Metropolis

How does it feel to live here? The dimensions are simply breathtaking. When we haven’t been here we might read the numbers. But we will only get the feeling once we are here.

 

 

 

I intended to stay 3 years and then move on, Africa was next on my list actually. But life is good in South China. The language barrier is huge but overall it is very comfortable, easy and safe and I find the people great to live and work with.

I am certainly not the right person to write a marketing brochure or a travel guide but would love to bring you the place a bit closer with some of my favourite spots.

The two pictures above are from the newest part,  Tianhe District, the CBD.

Here are more impressions from Tianhe:

Liwan District is the old town. While the district has plenty great old buildings which defininitely scream for gentrification, it has not happened yet. The old Canton is very much alive here. I spend so many days there and marvel at the mystery and colours and I have taken many pictures there:

Extending to the East of Liwan is a beautiful esplanade along the Pearl River. Not my most productive site for photography but I always enjoy going there, particularly in the nights. 2017 I had a bleeding in my right eye and saw only blurry with this eye. At that time reading, watching movies… was so stressful due to the asymmetrical vision and I was not allowed sports. I found the only thing I could enjoy In the evening was a walk along the river.

Guangzhou is the administrative centre and the trading hub of the Pearl River Delta but the main manufacturing cities are Dongguan, which I don’t know well , and Foshan. Most goods me and you have at our home we’re produced there. Manufacturing city might sound dreadful but Foshan is a quite dynamic place and is besides Hong Kong the centre of Southern Kung-Fu, Wing Chun. Yp Man and Bruce Lee were born here. The Temple of the Ancestors and adjacent Lignan Tiandi are great and colourful places. It takes more than one hour for me to go there with the metro but I feel it is worth to go there once every 6 weeks. Here are some of my pictures.

Shenzhen I visited only once and have no good pictures. SZ is not only the richest cities in China but also an intellectual centre. 20% of all Chinese with a doctorate live there.