From Barkerville to Guangdong – Bringing the stories back (Part Two)

(The following is part two of the continuing adventures of Barkerville’s CEO in China: 2013 edition)

The Overseas Chinese Museums and Curatorial Specialists Conference

This get-together has been a whirlwind of non-stop activities, starting at 7:30 in the morning and often going until 10 or 11 at night.  We are staying in an area of Guangzhou that looks interesting to explore, with a lovely promenade along the Pearl River.  My 15th floor window overlooks a small park that is filled with people doing Tai Chi, using the outdoor exercise machines or just visiting.  It looks like a great place to hang out if I had time. I haven’t been able to nose around the local streets either, which is something I really love to do.

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Poster for the Who Am I Exhibit on the front of the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Museum

However much has been accomplished.  A Global Alliance of Overseas Chinese Museums has been formed.  This is the first step towards sharing information and expertise.  Barkerville has been incredibly well received here and we received many accolades about our Who Am I Exhibit, which everyone had a chance to see, when we visited the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese.

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Diorama of a Chinese Private School at the South Canton Cultural Theme Park

I have made some very interesting and potentially valuable connections for Barkerville; of particular interest are the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles and a number of groups in California.  These contacts are of particular interest as we look to developing the ‘Gold Rush Trail’ as well as increased Chinese tourism.

Besides visiting the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese, we have visited the Guangdong Museum (think Provincial Museum) and the Folklore Museum at the Chen Lineage Hall (fabulous traditional architecture – see the 2009 blog), cruised the Pearl River for an incredible light show,  gone to the top of the 610 metre Guangzhou Tower, visited the South Canton Cultural Theme Park (traditional village presented in a quasi-Barkerville style), been treated to an incredible spectacle at the 8th Annual Tourism Festival, visited the Jiangmen Overseas Chinese Museum, and the Kaiping Diaulou (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Somehow Nan and I have managed to schedule our meetings with the Director of the GDMOC, the Vice-Director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Guangdong, and the Director of the Jiangmen Overseas Chinese Museum and a few others in between all of the above.  However, we did have to negotiate the final agreement for the exhibit with the GDMOC on the bus, and sign it off between courses in a restaurant.

Guangzhou City

This is my 3rd time to Guangzhou and I have never really been impressed with the city, but on this visit I am seeing more of it, and it is growing on me. It has many faces. There are layer upon layer of freeways with all kinds of street life underneath, resembling the set of Bladerunner, but dripping greenery and flowers instead of noxious liquids.  There are miles of sterile cement block tenements, which when penetrated, reveal winding alleys, hole in the wall shops and street markets.  The modern architecture is superb with some of the most visually interesting and downright beautiful buildings I’ve seen.

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An example of some the fascinating architecture in Guangzhou City

And of course tucked in amongst all this is the odd enclave of traditional architecture.  I don’t remember there being so many green spaces (I think this was a function of the area of the city where we were staying).  There are lots of parks, and they are all very well used.