Day 145: Country #15.2
I arrived in the early morning before any shops opened around the Guangzhou Center, but with sunny weather, I was excited to start exploring. I grabbed a quick breakfast at 7-Eleven and started north on Beijing Road, which was beautifully decorated with paper lanterns.
The Big Buddha Temple stood out and beckoned me to wander in as others came to pray and make offering. I freely moved upstairs and caught a group of chanting monks.
With the temple detour, I found myself taking some side streets until I reached People’s Park, which eventually lead to the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial at the entrance of the larger Yuexiu Park. I had heard of Sun Yat-Sen on a previous trip to Taiwan, but was surprised to see so much reverence and history about him in Guangzhou.
I made sense of his contributions to the founding of modern (not communist) China as I explored the somewhat disorderly hall displays, then climbed the stairs at the park entrance to the Sun Yet-Sen memorial, a tower overlooking the city.
I came to discover that the memorial wasn’t the highest point of the much larger Yuexiu Park, as I continued to the Guangzhou Municipal Museum and Guangzhou Art Museum, where I learned about the city’s history as China’s largest commercial hub, origin of modern China and gateway to the western world as well as some mythology and lore about the Five Goats of Guangzhou and Cantonese culture.
I exited on the east side of the park then returned south toward Nanyue Palace, arriving just in time to explore the exhibits and Mausoleum. The museum contained a large tourist map which indicated points of interest not on my other maps, so I decided to follow the lead and headed west again through small neighborhoods which contained houses and buildings where rebels and heros held secret meetings to overthrow governments, imperialists, and one another.
From the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees to Huaisheng Mosque, I found myself exploring history through small placards hidden on walls, trees and run down houses.
As it got dark, I returned to Guangzhou Center, finding it alight with color and huge crowds of people.
7-Eleven is a traveler’s best friend. They are found in most countries, usually stocked with a lot of safely cooked local food at relatively good prices. In order to buy the food, they also operate international banking compatible ATMs.