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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 worlds most popular luxury brands and attracts millions of tourists.

Guangzhou doesnt lack business visitors either. It is Chinas 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, its 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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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