So I am in Guangzhou, China in a “suburb” of Guangzhou called Renhe Town, in the Baiyun District. I put “suburb” in quotes, because this is very urban. Tenement like housing with apartments and flats, but with strong rural ties and beginnings. It has its own market and Is very self-contained. It reminds me of what Brasilia wanted to be, a utopian community where you never had to leave the building to get all that you want or need.
Since I left the airport eight days ago, I haven’t seen a white person. Several people have spoken to me in English, one, my wife, two, a nine old Canadian visiting her grandmother, and last night a young woman working in the market where I’ve been accused of buying beer. She said, “You like Beer?” Go figure. I noticed tonight that she has a fifth of Jim Beam high on the shelf (as though it were special). She asked, “Do you want to buy that?” She queried me about my living (read: staying) nearby. I said yes. But I won’t buy the whiskey till next week.
When I am out on the streets often I see 4 or 5 year old children who look at me as if they’ve never seen a white person before. I assume this is true. One child literally asked me, “Why are you white?”
There has been a lot of family around my wife during my stay including several cousin reunions. There is a lot of visiting, for a couple of reasons, one being several cousins visiting from Malaysia. When a lot of friends and family show up it ends up at the same local restaurant. I have had Dim Sum and lunch and dinner (all more than once), and since I have been here before, most of a fairly sweet bottle of Chinese “Brandy” (whatever that means), compliments of my wife’s Uncle (we drank actual cognac together, last time I was here).
I have been here a few times now. I am starting to know my way around and know the neighbors and the shopkeepers, and they know me. I am learning to find what I need, but still fear getting lost. Right now I think we want to try to find a blender, and another pound of ground coffee. We may have to wait till we get to Vietnam for that.