Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shamian Dao - Guangzhou

Shamian Island is located only a small hop across the Pearl River from Guangzhou. I read about Shamian Island on some web sites and I figured it might be an interesting place to visit on one of my off days. There were not many pictures available but other bloggers had reported how peaceful and serene the island was. I imagined it would be quite a trek from the city bit in actual fact it was only about 10 minutes away from Beijing Lu.

Shamian Island actually used to be a foreign trading post so the buildings on this small island are all colonial. Some of them looked revamped but others did look traditional to me. It seems the American Consulate is also still on Shamian Dao. No cars are allowed in the interior of the island so it was actually quite peaceful.

There are numerous coble stone streets crisscrossing the island, and they are only separated by large buildings and well kempt parks.

There were also numerous bronze statues that studded the area. Some of them clearly depicted a history of trading relations between Westerners and Chinese.

Others clearly marketed, or more accurately, demonstrated the photogenic nature of this place. In fact it was a serious change from the bustling city that lay just across the river.

Many of the featured fixtures were focused around children as well. I found this quite curious until I found out that Shamian Dao is host to the cities premier adoption agency. The fact that the American consulate is also on the island makes the process easier for Americans as well. Once I figured that out I also noticed how many foreigners were walking around with strollers and little Chinese babies. After a while that is all I could notice. It was actually quite amusing.

Somewhere around the center of the island I found this little Blenz Barista. It was in an old building so the interior was very beautiful with vaulted ceilings and large windows. It was a cool day out as well. They had internet access as well and I saw at least 5 young Westerners browsing and drinking coffee. They looked like tourists to me.

While walking around some more I also found that Shamian Dao is home to a Youth Hostel catering to foreign back packers. I went in to check it out and found that it was extremely clean and the rates were very decent. Only about $50 for an air-conditioned room with attached bathroom. It would probably be less off season. They also had a tourist desk that arranged trips to HK or other parts of China for the guests.

There are also a few hotels on Shamian Dao. The largest of course is the White Swan Hotel which is huge and looms over the west side of the island. Other small hotels like this one seem far more appealing to me. I guess this would be a nice place to stay if you enjoy peaceful walks in the morning and evening and you do not need to be in the business center of Guangzhou.

On the Northern side of the island, facing the city, I found Shamian Park. This statue is clearly a depiction of older adoptive parents.

This park commands a spectacular view of Guangzhou. It was a bit rainy that day so these are not the best pictures. The river is a little polluted but they do have floating restaurants that sail up and down it every evening.

There were a couple of restaurants and bars around this park. Some served light snacks and drinks while others featured a fully stocked bar and a variety of seafood. I imagine this would be a very pleasant place to relax and have diner with friends or family. I had a few hours to kill so I kicked back at I Love Lucy’s.

They had a very relaxing out door area where people would come and go. It is ideal for people watching. I watched some couples come in with little babies and what seemed to be adoption agents. To be honest, watching them interact was all very heart warming. I decided a long time ago that I would also adopt kids when I am ready rather than bring more into this world. Being on Shamian Dao that day just reinforced my beliefs.

So I kicked back with my ipod, a book, and some cold beers until I had to meet my friends later that evening. All in all it was a pleasant day spent out that might have been wasted in front of the idiot box. If you are visiting Guangzhou and would like a change of pace then Shamian Dao is the ideal place to go. It is not far from the city at all but it seems like a whole world away while you are strolling around the parks.


preetam rai said...

Thanks for putting up these pictures. This area used to be like my second home.

Shan said...

Hey this place looks cool. Interesting amount of statues tho.

Avi said...

preetam, my pleasure. maybe you could tell me more about the adoption agencies there. it is a big thing on the island right?

shan, there were so many more statues. It was a very photogenic location.

Chris Clanton said...

great pictures and commentary. I recently went through here as well, and was totally confused by all the fat white people with Chinese babies too until I found out about the adoption thing. I was just going through my photos and noticed that we have a lot of overlapping pics.

Thanks for the update!

Avi said...

thanks bro. like i said, the island is photogenic. I have no talent. let me know if there are any other intersting places you know about in GZ for me to visit.