With another foot of snow and white out conditions here in Washington DC, it’s easy to reminisce about the beauty of Southern China.
When we travel in China, it’s mostly to train with our teachers and occasionally do a little business. But we always try to fit in a little time to absorb some of the more interesting sights. We work hard to avoid the worst places in China. Guangzhou is one of the cities we enjoy visiting.
Guangzhou is probably my favorite major city after Beijing. It has got to be one of the most beautiful of the large cities in China. That is hard to believe given that it has a population of about 15 million people (There is a very large migrant labor population of about 5 million which is not officially registered, according to our contacts in the provincial government.)
Guangzhou sits in the Southern part of China, in Guangdong province (also called Canton). It is a major commercial and trade center. The pollution in the city seems to be a bit less than the other major cities in China. It’s still bad by US standards, but it’s pretty good by Chinese standards. It’s certainly much better than Shanghai or Xian.
Still, its nickname is the Flower City (Hua Cheng in Chinese). The city is literally covered with beautiful flowering plants and trees, complimented by the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) and enhanced by the sub-tropical climate. There’s a law requiring the planting of flowers, which is happily supported by the city’s residents. Even the highways have flowers covering the guard rails and supports.
The beauty of Guangzhou is also greatly enhanced by flowers of another sort… Southeastern Chinese women are some of the most beautiful in the world… and the sub-tropical heat combines with the regions natural blessings to produce truly stunning sights.
It is understandable why lovely Chinese women are referred to “Flowers.” Their skin is soft, radiant and smooth. Many of them dress stunningly, and the best of them are warm hearted.
Modern Chinese slang has even adopted a classical term “Freely Picking Flowers”* to refer to men who go through beauties in quick succession. Like the flowers in Guangzhou, it takes all of your training to refrain from picking them!
Guangzhou is similar to other Chinese cities in one respect — traffic is horrid. While stuck in the back of taxi one day on top of an overheated overpass, I looked to my left and saw the most amazing sight.
A striking young woman was walking along the top edge of the guardrail. Yes, an interstate overpass guardrail, about three or four inches wide. We must have been three stories high. She was wearing a short, tight white mini-skirt, perfectly white high heels, and walked with the grace of a cat on a Milan runway.
I guess the city’s residents take the flowers on the overpass law seriously!
She was completely unaffected by the fact that the slightest misstep could send her plummeting three stories down – a distance that is not quite enough to ensure certain death, but high enough to make you wish you had died.
When she appeared, everyone in my car and the surrounding cars snapped their heads like they were sideswiped by a bus — even the women.
The Chinese very much appreciate beauty combined with skill. She had clearly done this sort of thing before. She had some real Kung Fu – that is, skill obtained through hard work over time and effort. I don’t think a Hollywood movie could have orchestrated a better scene.
It is not unusual to find such displays of skills among ordinary people. The Chinese are forced by centuries of tradition and current conditions to work in a way that would flatten 99% of most Westerners. Could you imagine your average Westerner having the ability to do something like that? I can’t either.
She had what I call Nan Fang Mei Li Hua Qing Gong or Beautiful Southern Flower Lightness Skill.**
I think all the drivers on that overpass would have gladly offered her a ride.
But they were stuck in traffic.
And she walked, and walked, and walked.
When she got to the end of the overpass, she hopped down in one smooth movement, and disappeared down a side street.
We were still stuck in traffic.
* A bit of trivia: “Freely Picking Flowers” (Luan Cai Hua) is the old name of the 5th major drill in Chen Taijiquan Push hands (Tui Shou or Joined Hands), which teaches multi-directional footwork. Because of the modern sexual connotations they have dropped it in favor of something politically correct like “Free Stepping”, which is as interesting as cold Congee.
** Don’t go looking for this “system” of Kung Fu. In a fit of cunning linguistic inspiration, I made up the term up for your reading pleasure.