Originally we didn’t plan to visit Wuzhou but it turned out that we love this city so much that we spent the Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year there.
Wuzhou City is where the Cantonese dialogue originally came from. We feel right at home as everyone here proudly speaks Cantonese. Even in Guangzhou, there is a significant number of people from other parts of the country, many of them working in the service industry, who mostly speak Mandarin. In Wuzhou, almost all are local people, or ones got to learn Cantonese in order to live easier. Their intonation is much softer and more lyrical which makes our Hong Kong style Cantonese seem a lot harsher. They are very helpful and eager to help like giving us very detailed directions and where to eat.
Foods are also very much Cantonese with some delicious local specialities. We especially enjoy the rice noodles which reminds me of the Vietnamese pho but with more exciting toppings and sauces to choose. I always have the rice noodles served with beancurd, vegetables and crunchy peanuts. There are also a great many choices of dimsum restaurants.
Wuzhou is very rapidly changing. The pavement downstairs of our apartment was dug up and repaved in 10 days. The main road of the city is vigorously being renovated and widened. We stayed in the new part of the city with highrise, boulevards, shopping malls and cafes. However, it is more likely to find good eateries and local favours in the old part of the city.
One of our favourite past time is to walk around the old veranda buildings which the locals used to live upstairs and run their small business like restaurants, selling local produce or making wooden furnitures or fixtures on the ground level. Although the exterior may seem a bit dilapidating and many locals have moved to the newer buildings nearby or in the new part of the city, but we love the atmosphere and the smell of history that greet our nostrils. Even before you enter the street of furniture shops, you can smell the pleasant aroma of wood and you hear the birds chirping even before you see the bird shops.
What impressed us most is how clean the city is. We seldom find rubbish, not even in the little alleyways. Many times, we saw three or four locals walking together with tongs looking for rubbish to pick up, but there were only leaves fallen from trees.
The river embankment which is 20 something metres tall surrounding the whole city is very impressive. On top of the embankment is a jogging trail and bike lane where people including us spent much time walking along enjoying the great view overlooking the Xijiang River (西江).
On Christmas Eve, to enjoy some festive spirit, we went to a hotel and found a Christmas tree there, where we also had a delicious Thai dinner to celebrate.
So far, we have only been visiting cities where lifestyle are relatively modern and similar, with great convenience. We expect from here on, we are going to the rural parts of China where lifestyles will vary and unfamiliar. We are excited about the new experience and the unknown.