By Chen Zhiying
When it comes to Wuzhou, a city locates in the east of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and adjacent to Guangdong province, one would naturally think of streets lined with arcade-style buildings and the various delicious local snacks. Wuzhou, with a history of more than 2000 years, once served as the commercial port in south China and was reputed as “Little Hong Kong” because the convenient waterway brought to it flourishing businesses and its prosperity could be comparable to that of Hong Kong. Today, although the past glory has faded away, what is left still adds a distinctive atmosphere to the city.
Tips: Wuzhou is also famous for speaking Cantonese and making synthetic jewels. It has been crowned as the global jewel city.
Witness of the prosperous Wuzhou
With reliefs on the surface, roman columns, and round-arched windows, Wuzhou arcades integrate traditional Chinese features and European classical architectural style. Walking into the ancient architectural complex of Wuzhou, you seem to be able to see the changes of history. In the early 20th century, Wuzhou gradually developed into a famous commercial port in the Pearl River Basin. The original houses in the urban area can no longer meet the needs of the businesses, so they are replaced by the chic arcades with more functions. The first floor is typically used as a shop, while the second is for living. Arcades in Wuzhou are also known for the other two distinctive features, namely water gates and iron rings on the outer walls. Belonging to the subtropical humid monsoon climate, Wuzhou is warm and humid all year round and the location at the confluence of the Guijiang River, Xunjiang River, and Xijiang River makes the city prone to flood. With the designs of iron rings and water gates, people would have places to moor boats and be able to escape once the streets were heavily flooded. The city thus became another Venice.
The arcade town in Wuzhou used to be crowded with merchants. At its peak, there were more than 1,500 shops of different sizes. Nowadays, it’s occupied by some of Wuzhou’s famous snacks, like turtle jelly, Bingquan soybean milk, and herbal tea. After hundreds of years, the arcade buildings are still the most iconic and charming places in the city, attracting many tourists to visit.
1. The first floor of the arcade building sets back halfway to form continuous corridors, providing a shelter for both shops and pedestrians from the capricious local weather.
2. There are 22 arcade streets with a total length of 7 kilometers in Wuzhou, all of which are in the Hedong District.
A city of waters
Guijiang River flows to the south, Xunjiang River, to the east, and Xijiang River, from here. 85% of Guangxi’s water accumulates in Wuzhou, thus it earns the name of “City of Waters”. When the clear Guijiang River meets the turbid Xunjiang River, the two distinguishable currents flow and stretch for a distance before fully mixing and this section is called the Mandarin Duck River by local people. It is said that when Su Dongpo, the great poet of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), was pardoned and passed through Wuzhou, he, going sailing on the Mandarin Duck River, couldn’t help composing a poem to praise the river. Since then, the name of the Mandarin Duck River has been spread among the people. Now, “go boating on the Mandarin Duck River in spring” ranks top of the eight scenic spots in Wuzhou and becomes people’s first destination when they come here. All tourists will admire and marvel at this scenery.
Tips: Wuzhou is surrounded by water, beautified by water, and prospered by water. Water is at the heart
Diverse food culture
Clear water and fresh air nourish the beautiful landscape and this productive land. Wuzhou people use fine ingredients to create diverse food culture. Here, you can satiate your stomach with various delicate and delicious food. In the morning, why not have an elaborate and tasteful morning tea in the arcade buildings to start your day? Don’t forget to order the paper-wrapped chicken that is famous for its rich aroma and fresh tender taste. After selecting chickens bred by the local farmers, preparing specially-made sauces, and cooking in unique methods, the chicken tastes delicious and smooth, but not greasy. No doubt it serves as one of China’s top dishes and includes in the intangible cultural heritage list of Guangxi.
The turtle jelly, dark in appearance and slightly bitter in taste, is a popular summer delicacy for the local people. A little honey, milk tea, or sweet red beans will add different flavors to it. Bingquan soybean milk, featuring sweet and thick juice, holds appeal for millions of people. Wuzhou also boasts the well-known Chinese tea — Liubao tea. With a history of 1,500 years, the tea wins global people’s hearts with its rosy color, mellow taste, and acreca-nut flavor. After a busy day in the bustling world, a cup of Liubao tea makes you relaxed and helps to keep you healthy.
Tips: You can find most of the food in the arcade buildings in Hedong District
It’s time to go to Wuzhou to visit the ancient architecture, enjoy the views of the marvelous Mandarin Duck River, and taste the diverse food. Wuzhou, a sparkling pearl on the Xijiang River, is waiting for your exploration!
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