The Days Are Just Packed…

and not with philosophical sled rides, either.

Sorry about the lack of blog updates. On top of beginning work, continuing visa applications, and moving we’ve also got the excuse of having no internet.

Yet, despite our busy schedules, we have still made time to explore our new city.

First stop: Shamian Island.

Now, being exhausted, we unfortunately may have missed some of the features that make Shamian Island such a tourist must-see. So we’ll make sure to go back later to see what we missed.

A woman stretching for tai chi in the foreground of a group of singers.

Nevertheless, we had a nice visit. Shamian Island has somewhat of a unique heritage in comparison to the rest of Guangzhou due to the fact that it was actually under the ownership of France and Britain for a long stretch of time after the First Opium War. You see, Guangzhou is really a great place for a trade port and got a lot of action when Europe first became addicted to tea. However, because China wasn’t in need or want of anything from Europe, this tea came at an incredibly high price. In order to tip the balance of trade in Europe’s favor, Britain decided to utilize the resources from their colony in India- Opium.

Me on one of the bridges linking the island to mainland Guangzhou. During European occupation these bridges were heavily guarded at night to keep out the Chinese.

Britain started like any other good drug lords by first giving away opium for free, then for cheap, and then steadily raising the price until opium was more than a fair trade for China’s fine tea. Of course, this took place even though the Chinese government soon made opium sales and consumption illegal. Finally the Chinese government said enough was enough and marched to a large shipment of opium not far from Guangzhou and burnt it down. In response, Britain’s military marched on China and won. After their victory, Britain made several demands as a form of compensation- one demand was the exclusive use of Shamian Island. (France fits in here somewhere, but I’m not really sure how- kudos to anyone who can tell me).

Being sneaky in our attempt to capture the ballroom dancers...

However, through our meanderings we missed the Anglican Church on the British side of the island, and we missed the Catholic Church on the French side of the island, and we missed the cannons left over from the Opium Wars. But what we saw was still very interesting. We did note the European architecture, marveled at the many photo shoots taking place in the gardens, and caught glimpses of tai chi, ballroom dancing, and choral singing in the park.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lloyd & Sharon
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 05:25:08

    Hey Katie! Thanks for the history/geography lesson of China. Keep going on these blogs. You are an interesting writer and I will be interested in how it is going with your students too!


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