Exploding with Greenery

Chaotic, polluted, the cradle of Cantonese culture — these were some of the ways I had heard Guangzhou described before I visited last month. Reality was a bit different. It wasn’t chaotic at all; in fact, it was rather calm and orderly for a Chinese city. It was also less Cantonese than I expected. Cantonese is still the language of the majority, and this is reflected in subway announcements and TV commercials on outdoor video screens, but Mandarin has become the lingua franca in large parts of the city and some areas, like around Sun Yat-sen University or the in the orderly streets of Tianhe district, suffer from a generic “anywhere, China” feel, a kind of placelessness.

The one thing that was true to my expectations was the pollution, which blankets the city in a near-constant grey haze. Despite the air quality, though, I was amazed at how green Guangzhou is. Trees take pride of place in many of the city’s streets; apartment balconies are filled with potted plants; elevated expressways are covered with vines. It seems that, unlike Hong Kong, Guangzhou never dispensed with greenery as it urbanized. The warm, humid climate certainly helps: dilapidated buildings are covered in moss and plants grow out of cracks in the stone or cement. Nature, it seems, is keeping pace with Guangzhou’s incredible economic growth.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Friday April 30 2010at 12:04 pm , filed under Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments are closed.