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The Hidden Treasures of Southern China

The residents of Guangzhou employed in major industries often prefer to spend their holidays at home.

Published: April 23, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • A trip to the southwest of Guangzhou, to the town of Kaiping, offers a parallel reality that thrusts the traveler into a magical realm.
    Photo: Tourism Board of Guangzhou

  • A potter working at the Museum of the Great Maritime Silk Road in Guangdong.
    Photo: Galina Stolyarova / Vedomosti

  • Seafood is popular in Guangdong province, the homeland of Cantonese cuisine.
    Photo: Galina Stolyarova / Vedomosti

  • The mesmerizing serenity of semi-abandoned villages contain rare examples of Diaolou architecture, an unusual hybrid of traditional Chinese and colonial architectural styles.
    Photo: Tourism Board of Guangzhou

  • The colorful entrance to a traditional restaurant in Guangzhou.
    Photo: Galina Stolyarova / Vedomosti

  • The Guangdong coast is the starting point of the Great Maritime Silk Route.
    Photo: Galina Stolyarova / Vedomosti

Guangzhou is a place where several major European brands have located factories and is host to many trade fairs. The city is also home to the seemingly endless shopping arcades of a gargantuan market where one can buy skilled forgeries of items by the world’s most popular luxury brands and attracts millions of tourists.

Guangzhou doesn’t lack business visitors either. It is China’s third city in terms of both economic and political importance, and population. Its rate of economic development is drawing closer and closer to that of the business centre of China, Shanghai. With the launch of direct flights between Moscow and Guangzhou, the Chinese are trying to attract not only business travelers to the province but tourists as well. Guangdong, which is just a short hop from neighboring Hong Kong is terra incognita for many foreign travelers but its popularity among locals is very high, not least for gastronomic tourism. A Chinese proverb says: “You must live in Guilin but you have to eat in Guangdong,” giving compliments both to the natural beauty of Guilin prefecture in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the elaborate culinary specialties of Guangdong, the motherland of Cantonese cuisine.

Guangdong has access to the South China Sea with a number of small seaside resorts that envy the popularity of nearby Hainan Island, with whom they favorably compete with their moderate prices.

Hopping in the car and driving down towards the South China Sea, in about twenty minutes you will be surprised with the changing landscape that is like an instant leap back in time. Along the route are fragile shacks and small ponds in which locals wearing conical straw hats wade waist-deep in the muddy water to feed the frogs that they are raising. Along with goose farms and orchards, it’s a popular business for the local population.

Fresh seafood is perhaps the most highly-prized ingredient among Cantonese chefs. The streets in the coastal towns glitter with towering aquariums filled with the bounty of the sea, all of which can be had on your plate simply by asking.

For members of international environmental organizations, mention of the province causes uproar. Animal-welfare advocates have repeatedly called for boycotts of Guangdong, where any living creature is literally seen as a source of protein. The pet market in Guangzhou has a deservedly wretched reputation where living purchases are frequently butchered in front of the buyer.

Signature dishes in many eateries are wontons and dim sum with a variety of fillings, from shrimp and meat to nuts and dried fruits. One rare local specialty, perhaps thankfully so, is turtle pudding. This bitter dish is made with a broth of local herbs and usually is served for dessert.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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