Guangzhou is A Foreigner Friendly City
I have lived in Guangzhou for a little over two years and since my arrival in October 2011 I can truly say that my stay in this wonderful city has been a very pleasant experience. The city itself is very beautiful with many glittering new skyscrapers slowly replacing the once grayish and drab skyline. I am fortunate to have the privilege of living in Zhujiang New Town in Tianhe District where Guangzhou’s most spectacular buildings are located. I am particularly amazed by the beauty of the IFC building and deeply impressed by the iconic Canton Tower both of which dominate Guangzhou’s skyline with their neon lighted façade. Anyone can get tired and frustrated by the featureless concrete jungle of any big city but not in Guangzhou. My personal favorite and feature of the city which I admire most is the numerous parks and gardens scattered all over Guangzhou. These green oases indeed offer an easy and soothing escape for the tired and weary urbanite.
I can also vouch for the safety of Guangzhou’s streets. For a city of such scale it is indeed a wonder that very little crime happens. I often brag to my friends back home that Guangzhou is so safe that you can confidently traverse its streets at any time without fear.
Given the huge expatriate community in the city it has been my impression that foreigners are most welcome to live and work here. Despite the usual language and cultural differences most of the people I know including myself have not encountered any incident that would change my opinion about what a foreigner friendly city Guangzhou is. The key perhaps is the cordial attitude of Guangzhou people to foreigners. Most felt during the twice a year Canton Trade Fair, hundreds of thousands of foreigners descend on Guangzhou’s streets not only to buy merchandise but also to taste its interesting food and enjoy the nightlife. It is one city in China where foreign influence can grow and flourish.
What I like most about the city is the ready availability of any particular good or service. Name it and rest assured that Guangzhou has it or something close to it. Guangzhou is truly a city made for business. The entrepreneurial spirit of its people coupled with the vibrant business climate make doing business a breeze. The term “factory of the world” is never lost on me such that I will never dispute any Guangzhou salesman who claims that he can any find any product that I order or wish to have.
Who can forget the food! I think that the food in Guangzhou counts as the best in China. As the center of Cantonese cuisine especially the world famous dimsum Guangzhou is certainly a heavenly delight for food lovers. Again, Guangzhou scores quite high in terms of availability of international cuisine. The Janshie Liu Ma Lu in Yuexiu District is a favorite among expats wishing a quick bite be it Thai, Brazilian, Italian, Indonesian, Mexican, Turkish or even Arab cuisine. Of course, Guangzhou’s numerous international hotels regularly offer a wide array of international cuisine on their daily buffet.
The high quality and ready availability of public transportation is quite impressive. The cheap and abundant taxis, busses and subway trains give the ordinary commuter many options to get to his destination conveniently and on time. No need to drive a private car here in my opinion. I also wish to mention that the city’s ideal location and Baiyun International Airport’s vast connections make travel to other international destinations an easy proposition. A quick get-away to say Manila or Boracay Beach can be a delightful and inexpensive experience given that most Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines are just 1.5-2 hours away from Guangzhou.
I was told that the great transformation of Guangzhou’s infrastructure happened when the city hosted the Asian Games in 2010. I can only wonder what other amazing feats the city could accomplish if it hosted a more important event such as the Summer Olympics which I have no doubt it can and wish it would host in the near future.
Finally, my only small complaint about the city is the annoying behavior of taxi drivers many of whom traverse the city with mad abandon like they are competing in a Formula 1 race. Some unscrupulous taxi drivers are also known to prey on the unknowing foreigner with money switching tactics. This may be a minor problem but let’s remember the saying that first impressions last and usually a simple taxi ride is a foreigner’s first real encounter with Guangzhou.
Editor:Jessie HuangSource: Life of Guangzhou