Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beijing Lu

Otherwise known to us non-Chinese speaking folk as Beijing Street, it is a pedestrian street located in what used to be the center of Guangzhou. A couple of people have told me to go there because they know I have a mild interest in history, Supposedly Beijing Lu is a great place to get a feel about what Guangzhou is really about.

All I really saw when I got there was a bunch of people running around and doing shopping. Most people were local as well with errands to run so it did not seem like much of a tourist attraction. However I was approached by numerous small Chinese men offering to sell me Rorex watches. And I say small because I stand fully erect at 6 ft where as most of these gents were barely peaking at 5’5. I was hoping to find some outdoor bars or cafes where I could chill and watch life go by but there was nothing here except shops that seemed to have good bargains. Not my scene really.

As I walked down the street I came across a 3D map in a glass case that had people hovering around it. It took me quite a while to creep in and get a glimpse of the map, and I could not really take the time to get a good picture. But through the reflections you might be able to make out the map of old Guangzhou with its large walls protecting the city and numerous gapes around the palace. I could see where I stood at that moment and how the city had grown beyond its borders at the Pearl River. Because the map was in relief I also had a chance to appreciate the landscape that is now teaming with infrastructure.

Further down I noticed deep holes in the sidewalk that were covered with glass. Upon closer inspection I realized that they were actually excavation pits. You can actually look in and see the genuine roads that were used during various Chinese dynasties.

Some patches were remains of the Ming Dynasty 1368 – 1644 A.D.

Others dated as far back to the Song Dynasty 960 – 1279 A.D.

It was a pretty awesome feeling for me to be standing there and walking on this same strip of land that had been used for trade for so many hundreds of years. I did gain a little more respect for this city. I always Guangzhou was an industrial town that thrived on the popularity of the Canton Fair when in actual fact it has been a hub since before I could even imagine. This is the street as it looks today, with a glimpse of my new sneakers April 2006 A.D.

As I walked down past the excavations the street returns to normal, kind of reminiscent of walking down Pasar Baru in Jakarta, people brushing by me trying to get some shopping done in a hurry. Every so often I would see another tourist with pink cheeks trying to blend in to the public. At around the center point of the street there was another excavation. This time it was not just the old street but the entrance gate.

I saw the remains of the Pedestal of the Southern Song Gate 1227 – 1279 A.D. Amongst other numerous remnants of Chinese history. But to be honest, it got old pretty fast. Standing above the artifacts on a slab of glass with hundreds of people buzzing around me kind of lessened the emotional experience. I was hung over as hell from the night before and I was ready knock out the next bastard who offered me a watch.

I finally got down to the other end of the street where I could catch a cab. Looking back into the street you can see just how many people were milling around. And there were numerous shops on both sides of the streets selling loads of shit. I guess if shopping and looking for a bargain is your thing then Beijing Lu might be the place for you. Otherwise I think it worth a quick pass over just as reminder that this city has more to it then just a kick ass trade fair and solid business opportunities. There is only one other place where there are remnants of the old wall that was knocked down to make way for growth. I hope to find the time before I leave here to see that place and take some pictures. Apart from that it’s about time I start blogging some bars. Here’s to another week mate.

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