The Dizzy Heights of Canton

Nicholas Quirke was not a great lover of heights and though he was never put off by flying, by scaling towers and mountains he always approached them with some trepidation and on 2 April 2021 looking down on the world from 499m he did with caution and a mildly increased heart rate. They were departing Guangzhou that day but he could not leave without going up the city’s iconic dominating feature. At almost forty pounds the price was prohibitive though Nicholas at 60 could get a cheaper ticket and as it was likely that it would be the only time he was there then it seemed foolish not to go. After much deliberation Peng decided to join him and they cycled to the tower after their final breakfast in the hotel. They compensated for the lack of food they could eat by visiting the Family mart across the street who sold a very tasty Su Bao. The VIP ticket gave them access to 4 levels with the top being in the open air and 499m high. They stopped on the observation floor where there was a glass bottomed section they could walk out onto and see the scarily open view beneath their feet. There was a a night view floor and one with a fun fair experience which he really did not want to try and then the open air observation deck. They got told off for sticking the Go Pro over the edge to film and Peng had an argument with the officials as it only said don’t stick parts of your body over the edge. As a result they were then subjected to continual scrutiny over the 30 minutes they took to savour the truly spectacular views on repeated 360 degree tours to make the most of the astronomical ticket price they had parted with to enjoy the pleasure. It was high, very high and even the towing structures he felt dwarfed by at ground level appeared diminished. They eventually returned to earth and treated themselves too a final Tong Sui of ginger and black sesame before taking a taxi to the train station and travelling to Shenzhen. It was only an hour long train ride and he sat back and enjoyed the views through the countryside and the urban sprawl. As they were arriving in the city he say a building decorated with vintage looking logo’s and bill boards which turned out to be a new WenHeYou mall which, coincidentally was opening that day. They decided to return to the vicinity later to have a look and be among the first to see this new virally active social network spot. They took the subway to the hotel and walked from the station, though they followed a pointlessly diverted path through a strip of land that was being reclaimed as park and which, they dubbed Shenzhen’s no 1 tourist spot. Naturally, once they had checked in they went to look for something to eat and stopped a a restaurant that specialised in Chang Fen another pancake style dish that was native to the area. Shenzhen sits on the east bank of the Pearl River estuary bordering Hong Kong. In 1978 it was a fishing town whose train station was the last stop on the Chinese mainland section of railway but following the institution of the policy of “reform and opening-up” in 1979 Shenzhen has rapidly created a cityscape resulting from a vibrant economy—made possible by foreign direct investment.  It was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world in the 1990s and the 2000s and now has a population estimated to be 20 million. The buildings were towering with Ping An Building being the 4th highest in the world. They cycled next to the new 20,000 square meters complex they had seen from the train but this was its opening day and there were literally thousands crowds swarming around and an unbelievably long queue. They were not going to waste time standing in line and when they later discovered that at its zenith there were 20,000 in queue with in excess 50,000 having passed through its portals they were relieved not to have wasted any time. They went instead to the Children’s Palace where the modern art gallery and the enormous civic centre sit. They sat in. Bar, Gaggas drinking tea and eating fries to wait for the sun to set to see the city lights. The walk through the vast civic centre was awe inspiring, with people dancing, skateboarding and the lights shimmering. The evening finished with a trip to a bar which specialised in sorbets and they were given a taste of every flavour. He finally settled on Longan and noticed a poster for ‘A Brighter Summer Day’ amongst they decor and made him think of his sons whom he immediately contacted and had an enjoyable exchange. The pace hadn’t slowed down and his muscles ached and his stomach was full by the time the day ended and it was a relief to take to his bed and sleep.

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