I began packing for a morning flight from Nanjing. I’d spent the day sitting, talking with colleagues, writing reports, then a banquet—all enjoyable, all productive, but distressingly sedentary. I needed to get out.
Between a conference in Hong Kong and meetings in Nanjing, I realized I could head for Guangzhou. In two decades of traveling to China, I’ve never been there, partially I suspect because of its intimidating culinary reputation that sits large in the world. Snakes and other unsavory critters are standard fare. Pick out a snake in the window and have it cooked for you. Yeah, well I didn’t see one in Guangzhou. I’m sure there are some, but they aren’t the main item of everyday cooking. What is it about us westerners—or at least North Americans—that needs to stress the bizarre?
Every trip to China I try to steal time to walk the streets and alleys. I plot the area to wander in, often not far from my lodging, and head out, a map tucked in my bag and a hotel name card in my pocket. Both are essential.
I often turn down the nearest small street, trying to gauge its direction. Running at haphazard angles to main streets, they lead me into neighborhoods veined with networks of smaller lanes and alleys, all begging to be explored. Recently in Nanjing I wandered down tree-lined streets, past a pocket park with yellow and Continue reading