the oasis that is Shamian Island

Guangzhou is a bustling, sprawling city estimated to have around 14.5 million inhabitants.  There are so many buildings, so many people, and so many vehicles.  Yet one thing this city has done right is to keep massive green spaces...several of which are quite close to the China Hotel that we've either walked to, toured, or ridden the metro to visit.  (Liuhua, Yuexiu, Baiyun, Yuntai and there are SO many others!)

Another place that I like to visit to escape the fast pace of the mega city is Shamian Island.  

From our hotel it is just two metro stops, a line change and then four more stops then using a pedestrian bridge over a busy street and then crossing another pedestrian bridge over a canal.

The island was originally an important port for Guangzhou's foreign trade starting in the Song Dynasty and going through the Qing.  Later it became a place for foreigners to live and do business and during the time China was closed it was one of the only places foreigners could live in the city at all.  It is very Western in architectural style and very quiet as traffic control exists and very few cars are on the island.

We enjoy visiting for the fun statues,

strolling the wide, tree lined streets,

and shopping for souvenirs.

Ian was hoping to figure out a way to make this Tesla a souvenir.
this was in the lobby of the white swan hotel...apparently you can buy a tesla while on vacation
 And the kids seemed to wonder how we could get this boat carved out of one giant piece of jade home with us.


Each time we've gone to a park we've seen folks playing Chinese hackey sack.  Finally today Daniel decided to spring the $1.50 and buy himself one.

While they have a while to go to be half as good as the foursome playing behind them, after about 10 minutes of trial and error they were at least getting four bounces in before it went out of control.  Maybe we've found something to replace the Four Square craze at Quail Hollow this summer.

Another part of visiting Shamian Island is taking in the view of the Pearl River, the third longest river in China.

Before we left the park at the riverfront, we had to stop for a quick photo recreation.  How could it be 10 years already (including the link because the picture of us setting in this very spot all those years ago won't come up for me to copy) since our first visit to Shamian?

We paused to pose with a few more of the statues we came across.

And then grabbed a quick lunch to go from Subway as we wanted to have a big dinner out to celebrate a wonderful trip and we needed to get back to the hotel to meet Lee and get Nicholas' passport and immigration packet.

All day long though, I've been wrestling with the tension of being both beyond ready to go home and wanting to stay in this country forever.  There were a few stressful days when we first got to GZ as we relearned the lay of the land to know where we could get food.  (Thankfully we've had an amazing Mandarin tutor ~ Linda is worth every penny we've paid her ~ and Ian has a mind for languages as he's done most of our ordering in Mandarin good enough for several folks to assume he's fluent).  But overall it's been a trip far exceeding my expectations...and I feel like I have reasonable ones because this isn't our first rodeo.  And then you have the fact that while I feel like I stick out *just a bit* here and endure second, third and often fourth glances, one of my children commented that they love being in China because here "pretty much everyone looks like me." My discomfort is found in the midst of their comfort.   So here I'd stay because like any other mom, my heart wants theirs to be at peace.

I'm rambling.  It's late and the alarm is going off in just a few hours.  We've got an early start to the day to get to Hong Kong for our 10:30 flight back to Newark where Nicholas will officially become a citizen of the United States once we clear immigration...something that makes me both want to leap for joy and weep at the same time.

This is a complex road.  But it is a beautiful one and I'm thankful beyond what words can express that we, the M8, are walking it together, one step at a time.

{the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step} ~ Lao Tzu


Laurie said...

As much as I love that picture of you, Ian, and Ky, I must say you look MUCH more "at home" with a bundle of kids around you! :) I'd have to do some math to figure out exactly what day/time you'll be home, but let me just say "Welcome Home!" anyway! :) Thank you again for letting us follow along on your trip- I enjoyed every day SO much!! :)

Mortal Clown said...

Please ramble more. Your blog posts are always over too soon.

Btw, gave me a start for a second: in the group pic of everyone lined up with the kids statues, there is a wee to crossing on the right. Thought you guys might have just decided to add one to surprise us.

THANKS truly for letting those of us who've never been to China get such a glorious glimpse of it. Happy trails.