Now that we are 1/6 done with our tour in Guangzhou, we feel like we have hit our rhythm. We settled into our jobs, found our favorite grocery stores, and about 60% of our belongings arrived. Our children happily attend school, enjoy their nanny’s endless games and affection, and run wild around our apartment complex with the rest of the nannies and children. Here is just a snapshot of some of our life in Guangzhou right now.
Our housing complex is about much better than we could have anticipated. It has multiple gyms, pools, beautifully landscaped gardens, plus an optional buffet breakfast. Moments away delicious restaurants are always full of laughter and tantalizing aromas. With all this neighborhood has to offer, from 3pm onwards it becomes a veritable watering hole for parents, grandparents, and nannies of children from nearby schools.
Our neighborhood includes a huge park and long river walk with endless trails for running and biking. At nearly every moment of the day, locals of all ages take advantage of the green space through exercising, hanging out, and picnicking. If you like people watching, this is the place for it. Groups of fishermen gather around their buckets discussing the catch of the day, older generations in wheelchairs play cards, and grandparents scold their grandchildren in rapid Cantonese for careening around on their scooters.
While the Pearl River walk is busy at all times, this is especially true on weekend mornings. While we were at FSI studying Mandarin, one of our teachers often talked about a Chinese cultural phenomenon called “square dancing”. This is not to be confused with American square dancing complete with swinging your partner round and round to the tune of a fiddles. In China, groups of all sizes get together in city squares and public spaces and do choreographed dances. I didn’t believe my teacher that this was so prevalent, but then the first day out of quarantine as we walked around, I was amazed by how many groups I saw. (Scroll down for video clips!)
I’ve seen modern, hip-hop style complete with matching tracksuits. I’ve seen women in sleek black outfits with matching fans or scarves doing slow dances with traditional Chinese music. I’ve even seen some that dance with swords. There is one group that meets in a nearby park with some 50+ participants in matching outfits. By the time they’re done, more than 100 people will have joined in the fun. I would join myself, but I am too afraid that I’d be quickly trending on Chinese social media.
At night, this area lights up. Twinkle lights in the trees and bushes make the city glow as commuters ride their bikes home, some with two or three passengers crammed on one electric bike. Facing each other across the river, the Canton Tower lights up the city center with multi-colored light shows and flashing rainbow lights bounce across the Mall of the World plaza. Children jump from one light to the next chasing the colors across the plaza.
Every day I am surprised by how much I like it here. I never expected to really love a city on the other side of the world with a culture so different from my own, but here we are four months in and I’m already feeling sad that it’s only a two year tour.
Last year, some of my family members got us hooked on the app One Second a Day, which you can use to create a montage of one second video clips – a highlight reel of your life. My husband has been great about taking short video clips everywhere we go. Now that he has his bike, he has been able to explore a lot farther outside our neighborhood. I asked him to compile some of his best clips of what we’ve seen so far in Guangzhou and I think it is such a fun way to share our experience here. Enjoy! Note: if you are viewing this as an email subscriber, you may have to click on the link and view on the webpage in order to see the video.