Guangzhou… the city where we lived when our first baby was born – where we had our first family home – where we watched that baby learn to crawl, walk and talk… where we caught the first glimpses of the wonderful little person she’s becoming…… a place that helped form her appreciation for different places and countries and perhaps was a forming influence in the international feeling in her soul….
It’s a big, dirty (nope, strike that, filthy is probably more appropriate) booming industrial city, full of the extreme contrasts of life in China – the very nouveaux riche, and the poor immigrants – the old and the new – the culture and the shallowness – the countryside and the city – the dirt and the beauty…. People who go there love it or hate it… we loved it… we had adventures there… we explored, and we lived and we embraced it…. we left bringing baby no.2 with us to be born in Abu Dhabi, but with a little piece of Guangzhou already implanted into her personality.
We’ve been back twice since we left – each time to see how this crazy metropolis has changed, and to see friends, one of the most important of whom is Ah Lun, our old ayi – the lady who looked after Saffy as if she were her own child, even though she had her own child, Yang Hao, who was just a month younger (as well as an older daughter too – yes, even though China has a one child policy there are many out there with more than one child). She taught Saffron Chinese to the extent that when we moved here Saffy could speak little English and babbled confidently in mandarin.. she looked after us too – in a way we’ve not been looked after before or since – we missed her so much when we moved and we’re so lucky we’ve been able to meet up on our trips back – despite the fact she finds it hard to decipher my extremely ropey mandarin these days!!!!
I was stunned on this trip at how much GZ had changed – the 2010 Asian games were held there – some of the events in the area right by our old flat and the whole area has changed almost beyond recognition…. some areas had been pedestrianised, the view of the Pearl River we had from our flat had gone thanks to new flats being build right in front, new hotels had opened, the streets were busier, and the quaint little village with it’s temples and annual dragon boat race had been demolished, in the name of progress….. When we lived there a museum was being built right beside our apartment – this is now the Guangdong Provincial Museum and I’d seen some pictures on facebook from a friend who’d been there (a lovely friend who now employs Ah Lun in fact :D) and I saw that there were dinosaurs there… oh how that sparked the interest of my dinosaur mad Saffy!!!! It was the only thing she wanted to see in China!!! She wrote about going to see them in her school writing book before we even went there!!!
We rounded our trip to Guangzhou off with a visit to see some old friends who had just had their third baby before we flew on up to Shanghai for the next part of our summer adventure…
to be continued from Shanghai……