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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

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Womens Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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