Zhanjiang - Not Beijing True But A Lot Cheaper
"A Place Of Hidden Charms"
The Rough Guide To China 2003 states " The only reason to make the long haul to Zhanjiang, .... , is to catch onward transport to Hainan Island. Otherwise the town, .... , is without interest." I don't even think the place makes the latest edition. So why go? I turn it round and ask why not? True there is no Great Wall, no Terracotta Army and no Disney Land. However, there are locals. Millions of locals all crazily going about what locals do without the worry of foreign sensibilities. They stare at you, they point at you, some even hide from you. But they will all say Ni Hao if you smile at them. And it's safe.
"A Little Bit of Factual Stuff About Zhanjiang"
Zhanjiang (rough translation: pure or deep (zhan) and river (jiang) and formally known as Guangzhou Bay is located about 400 km southwest of the Province Capital Guangzhou. Situated on an inlet of the South China Sea on the eastern coast of the Leizhou Peninsular. The city (or area known as Zhanjiang City) is actually an amalgamation of three cities, 2 counties and 4 districts. Namely: Leizhou City, Wuchan City and Lianjiang City; Suixi County and Xuwen County; Chekan District, Xiashan District, Mazhang District and Potou District. Although this region speaks a strange Leizhou dialect called Min Nan, the residents of Zhanjiang speak Leizhou hua. However, being situated in Guangdong Province, almost all residents can speak Cantonese.
Ancient Zhanjiang History
Dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC) the area known today as Zhanjiang belonged to Xiang Shire. During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) the Han Central Government set Xuwen County as the administrator of the whole Leizhou Peninsular. Zhanjiang was also one of the earliest departure points on the Marine Silk Road. Following the Tang (618AD-907AD) and Song (960AD-1279AD) dynasties, the region began to move forward economically and socially
Although still nothing more than a small fishing port in 1898, the French identified it as an important venue to serve it's purposes serving southern China. The French called the place Fort Bayard. In 1899 the French forced the Chinese to lease Zhanjiang to them for 99 years. French control ended firstly in 1943 when the Japanese occupied the region and then finally returning Zhanjiang formally back to the Chinese in 1946. As a seaport and growing trade centre it has many varied industries including the obvious shipyards plus textile plants and sugar refining. Bananas are grown on the nearby island of Naozhou (where my wife is from). Zhanjiang is also famous for its pineapple, mango and red orange. During the 1990's Zhanjiang was, along with 19 other port cities, granted open trading status.
"Things to Do in Zhanjiang"
Zhanjiang is a city undergoing great change. Each and every time I visit there are new parks to explore, new restaraunts to tempt you and all wrapped up in a warm, laid back environment. I recommend just take it steady, go for a stroll. In the early morning sun you will be greated by Tai Chi, old women dancing to old Mao songs, and joggers. In the parks people will be playing cards, mahjong and chess. Huguangyan lake (a volcanic crater) is situated approx 12 miles from the centre. Here you will find a 1000 year old Buddhist monastery.