In Guangzhou we’re staying at the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island. This is a small island, about five blocks by two blocks, in the Pearl River, just barely separated from the north bank of the river. In the mid-1800s the island was granted to the British (4/5) and French (1/5) governments. Subsequently, it became the headquarters for other foreign businesses and governments. At one time the U.S. Consulate was here which is one reason the White Swan Hotel became adoption headquarters; I believe every U.S. adoption is processed through this consulate. Now, the consulate is elsewhere in Guangzhou, but the adoption agencies still use the White Swan.
Because of its history the island’s architecture is very European in flavor – large, colonnaded buildings, lots of trees, a broad promenade down the center. Many cornerstones date in the early 1900s. Most of the buildings are now apartment houses, but still the island has the feel of a colonial enclave. For one thing it’s not nearly as crowded as most urban Chinese areas are. Makes it a pleasant place to stroll with the babies.
Here are some pictures that may convey the flavor of Shamian Island:
The island is a popular locale for wedding and fashion shoots.
There are a Protestant chapel and a Catholic church on the island. On Sunday we attended a combo Chinese/English service at the chapel. It was packed and alive. A couple of the songs were done in English and scriptures were read in both languages. The Preacher, accompanied by an English translator, preached from John 3:16. We had attended here four years ago and were glad to see the church still going strong. Here's the church.
And here's the steeple.
Several sculptures like this around. This one is The Grandparents.
One of the White swan traditions is the group photo of each adoption group’s new kids on one of the red couches in the lobby. It’s a madhouse as all the parents try to keep the kids lined up and take pictures at the same time. This was the best I could do. Macy’s in the left front. She’s wearing an outfit that grandma found in a nearby store. Also bought a matching one for Malia.
I like to go out in the early morning to watch the Chinese exercise rituals along the riverfront. Some of it is very sedate (Tao Chi, a correspondent has told me), some more frantic. Some are in groups, some solo. Some groups bring boom boxes that provide accompanying music that I like to listen to.
Fans and swords can be part of the exercise.
A popular nighttime attraction is to take boat cruises on the Pearl River. We've seen the brightly lit boats on both this and our previous trip, but had never been on one. Well, last night the group outing was a dinner cruise on the river, so Susie and I went. Some scenes:
The White Swan puts on a light show on its riverside front. These lights flash in different patterns. I caught them almost all on.
Nice evening, lots of bright lights. We had a good time.
Susie and Rob