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Cycle Canton: Tour de GZ

Do you live in GZ yet feel you haven't found the real heart of the city? Are you visiting and wish to see a slice of authentic Cantonese life? For all those who have wanted to explore those small enticing alleyways and hidden corners of Guangzhou, there is now a cycle tour which takes you away from the usual tourist trails and into some rather overlooked but fascinating areas of the city. On a pleasant sunny September afternoon, City Weekend Guangzhou joined Cycle Canton for an illuminating and thoroughly enjoyable tour.  

The tour meets at the Happy Monk, close to the Garden Hotel, and after a short briefing from Bram, our knowledgable guide and co-founder of Cycle Canton, the tour sets off and makes its way through Yuexiu District. As you wind your way through the seemingly endless crisscrossing alleyways and narrow pathways you get to see a side of the city not usually seen by visitors.

The tour makes stops at what appears to be some unassuming places, but as tour guide Bram points out, the buildings highlighted on the tour all have an interesting story to tell. You get to see the delightfully designed house that was built for a rich stamp collector, a hidden temple building that was once linked to the Chen Clan Academy and Chen Huang temple that was described by a 19th century American sailor as "a temple of horrors".

After a stop in Peoples Park and a quick game of Jianzi, the tour moves south and joins the greenway cycle path that runs parallel to the river. The final third of the tour is a leisurely cycle through Ersha Island. After crossing Guangzhou bridge, the tour finishes at Huacheng Square in the middle of Guangzhou's CBD, Zhujiang New Town.

The gentle pace of the tour, mixed with the milder Autumn weather, makes cycling in Guangzhou a perfect way to see the city. Canton Cycles isn't so much a tour of Guangzhou's 'sights', but rather an urban exploration of the city's history and culture. The tour is a journey through a physical timeline from the old west half of the city to the newer eastern side. 

David Lewis, fellow rider and visitor to GZ from Melbourne Australia, gave the tour a thumbs up. "I thought it was delightful. It was a real thrill to be able to go down those narrow lanes with the greenery and lots of people sitting outside. I found it all quite human and friendly."

Tour guide and head of Cycle Canton Bram Van Ooijen told CW about how the idea for the tour came about. "Me and a friend were cycling through the city during the autumn last year. We just loved cycling through the city, experiencing new places seeing parts we had never seen before. It just all of a sudden popped up in our mind to make it into a tour."  

"We wanted to tell the story from old to new. We definitely wanted to go through the urban villages and then People's Park and Chen Huang temple. We planned it so you get a good idea of what Chinese culture is like."

Although only new to the city, the cycling tour has already been a big success."It's been a very big success. We get different types of people; visitors who are here for a short time and people who live here, expats," Bram explains."The visitors are often amazed by what Guangzhou is. Many of them have never been to China and they never imagined that Guangzhou was this modern. Expats often say that most of the places we show them they never knew existed. We show them more of the place that they call home."

Seeing Guangzhou with Cycle Canton is a great way to spend an afternoon. Admittedly, Guangzhou doesn't offer many large attractions to wow visitors. It has no Great Wall or any Terracotta Warriors, however, unlike many other major Chinese metropolises, GZ has managed to keep many of its old areas largely intact, preserving a way of life that has disappeared in many other corners of the country. Light hearted, interesting and great fun, Cycle Canton is a must-do for anyone visiting or living in Guangzhou.     


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Comments

wgjcrook's picture

wgjcrook

The tour costs 300RMB. Well worth it!

leemack

Great post! Looking forward to doing that on my next trip! How much does it cost?
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