Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Guangzhou: Last day

Don't really have time for a detailed travelogue. M, a good friend of Kem and Z, took me around Guangzhou on my last day there (last Tuesday, Dec. 27). There's some interesting sites - a beautiful memorial dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic. A local mosque, in the heart of the city on Huasheng street, dating from the 16th century I believe (though, it seems, there's been a mosque there since the 8th century!). Unlike mosques elsewhere, this one betrayed no signs of any Arab influence in its architecture or design, with only the occasional Arabic inscription indicating its ties to Islam. The Six-Banyan-Tree Buddhist Temple, not too far from the mosque, and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a fantastic 19th century gothic structure, sadly closed for renovation. (This is, also, Kem and Z's parish church. There's not that many churches in Guangzhou, and it's an absolutely shame that it's normally an hour and a half journey for them to get to Mass! Actually M and I had an interesting conversation about that -- in her view, the main difference between Catholics and Protestants is that the latter can "go to church" anywhere, whereas Catholics have to come to a particular church. This reflects the distinct advantage, in many respects, that the decentralized, lay-led structure of evangelical Protestantism has in sparsely Christian areas such as China. Again, something to be learned here!)

We also did some shopping, including a stop over to the tourist shops on Shamian Island so I could pick up some souvenir T-shirts.

On the long bus journey back to Panyu, M and I had a long conversation about Christianity. She's started attending Mass with Kem, and has a deep interest in the faith.

Pictures coming up soon!

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