Guangzhou... the Los Angeles of China

Over the last ten years, I've gone on many trips to Guangzhou. At first, I didn't much care for the city... there's bad air pollution, it's over crowded, I heard stories of people getting robbed, not many people speak English, it can be difficult to navigate (cab drivers like to drive foreigners in circles so the fare is higher), and the "western restaurants" are not so good (had the pleasure of getting food poisoning from one). It can be an intimidating place to be. However, once you accept all of that and make a few local friends, it can actually be rather pleasant. You will appreciate the city even more if you like Chinese Food... which is amazing there.

People back in the US often ask me to describe what the city is like. At first I struggled to give a proper explanation... but I've come to the conclusion that Guangzhou is China's version of Los Angeles (without the hamburgers and movie stars). There is a sprawl of freeways, giant shopping malls, smog, traffic jams, diverse ethnic population, relatively high crime rate, lots of entertainment options, international trading hub, world class galleries, extreme wealth, extreme poverty, many different types of neighborhoods/districts, massive sky scrapers, exhibition places, city parks, etc... Guangzhou is also one of the most liberal and cosmopolitan cities in China. Yes, you will still see people spitting on the ground... but you can also enjoy a nice glass of wine or cocktail at a gourmet restaurant overlooking the Pearl River.

These are a few photos I took when walking around the city one night. If you ever spend some time in Guangzhou, I would encourage you to get out of the hotel room and explore it (it's a lot safer than many large western cities).

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