Guangzhou, China is a crucible of east and west. The city is enchanting, the women lovely, and the nights are steamy. Long open to the West, it has absorbed influences from around the world. And when you put two cultures together you get some pretty amazing things. Although we spend most of our time in the city studying Chinese medicine, Yi Jing, and Internal Alchemy, we save room to experience the unique flavor of the Flower City. You don’t know what to expect, as I found out during a recent visit.
When we stay in Guangzhou, we prefer to stay in the old colonial district by the river’s edge. A number of the old colonial buildings survive such as the US and French naval attachés. Many of them have been turned into restaurants featuring a variety of styles of pan-Asian cuisine ranging from Indonesia to local Cantonese specialties.
We stay on the river in a relatively old but passable four star hotel. Four stars in China can be really great or below standard. This one just barely makes the cut – the place’s real charm is its location next to one of the city’s best restaurants and on the river walk.
It’s the food in the area and the daily activities along the river that make it great. They are all part of the normal daily activities. There is nothing tourist-like about them, except for the lone Lao Wei saying “Wow, that’s cool.”
In the morning, starting at 5:00 AM, you are treated to classical Chinese Gu Zheng (Zither) and flute music. The numerous musicians play by themselves or in small groups, but the sounds seem to mix together well. Retirees can be seen doing Tai Chi and Qigong along the walk. A few younger guys practice Kung Fu.
There are even people swimming in the river! For those of you who haven’t been blessed enough to see the effluence of Chinese civilization up close, Chinese rivers are generally pretty dirty, especially in large cities. The Pearl River seems a little cleaner than most, but only a little.
At night you are treated to Chinese Dance, sidewalk calligraphy, and all sorts of entertaining sights…
Although many are worth mentioning, one particular experience stands out for the innovative fusion of East and West.
As my interpreter and I were walking back from dinner one sultry Guangzhou evening, I noticed a number of women walking along the river dressed… well, how shall I say it? Dressed like high class ho’s.
One lady looked to be about middle age. She was wearing VERY short denim shorts, mid-calf tan suede boots with pink fuzzy pom-poms, black fishnet stockings and a red cashmere form fitting halter top.
She had various assorted bangles on one arm and a traditional jade bracelet on the other. She had blue liner on her eyes, but wore no other makeup.
I’m not making this up. And she wasn’t the only one dressed in some variation of this theme.
Now, middle aged Southern Chinese women are a lot hotter than you might think. First, they seem to generally age well. This is probably because they eat better that we do in the west and exercise regularly. You won’t find many overweight Chinese people. Their skin is naturally soft and smooth, but the muscle is firm because they walk everywhere and they work hard. Finally, they wear very little make-up and avoid the sun.
So it seems we have a bunch of well-preserved ladies of the evening walking the river in Guangzhou.
I asked my interpreter “Is this where all the prostitutes hang out?”
Now my interpreter this trip also happened to be a hot middle aged Southern Chinese beauty, but she was dressed a bit more tastefully, and certainly more deliciously, in a Tang dynasty jacket and tailored skirt.
She laughed and said “No, she’s a middle aged mom. See her two children?” as she pointed to two young children running and jumping about 15 feet away. Obviously it takes a mom to identify who belongs to who, because I didn’t even notice them.
She continued “The prostitutes in China rarely walk the streets. They are more civilized than that.”
“Then why do these women dress like LA hookers?”
“They don’t know any better. They probably saw it on TV, but they don’t know what it means to dress that way.”
When east meets west, the fashions can get interesting! Such are the joys of an evening stroll in the Flower City.