Guangdong Province, 163km (102 miles) NW of Hong Kong, 165km (103 miles) NE of Macau
While most of the city's history has been erased, Guangzhou still holds an endless certain fascination for anybody wishing to see the inner workings of the modern economy. If you enjoyed Manufactured Landscapes, then the commercial frenzy of the city will keep you enthralled for days if not weeks. Few visitors manage to see beyond the superficial veneer of five-star hotels, shopping malls, and propaganda sightseeing, but those who do are rewarded with rare insights to equal those of Dickens when he was writing and researching Oliver Twist and Little Dorrit. Guangzhou is the ideal starting point for those who wish to glimpse the dragon's underbelly, the result of combining Western capitalism and Eastern exploitation. Until recently, there were vast wholesale markets for every product imaginable, although shopping opportunities have declined dramatically with the onset of the global financial crisis. The American and European markets have largely dried up, and most of what is left is mainly low grade fakes and the cheapest possible plastic tack destined for Africa or the rapidly growing immigrant worker populations of Europe that can rarely afford anything else. Be aware that you have now entered mask country. This is the home of bird flu and a new batch of mutations that arises each year during the hot sticky months of the rainy season. Visitors from the cleanest of environments seem to be the most at risk. Long term residents seem to build up a resistance over time yet a friend visiting recently from New Zealand had to be taken to the hospital three times during his short 2-week visit with various bronchial and intestinal infections.