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Go With The Flow Of The Pearl River

February 5th, 2010 by

People who have been in some parts of China would most probably have come across the magnificent Pearl River which is located down South.  The Pearl River is also referred to as the Guangdong River and freely flows between Macau and Hong Kong as it joins the South China Sea.  This river ranks third in the list of longest rivers given that it is about 2, 200 kilometers long.  It follows after the equally famous Yangtze River and the Yellow River.

Welcome to the Pearl River

Based on available readings, the Pearl River got its name from a huge rock island that used to be found in the middle of the river and was always enveloped by water.  Because of its constant contact with the ravaging water, the rock became extra smooth and shiny similar to the polished and lustrous look of a pearl.  Because of this likeness with a pearl, the rock was then called the Haizhu Rock or Sea Pearl Rock and the river was consequentially referred to as the Pearl River – the river where the Pearl Rock can be found!

Another explanation of the origin of the river’s name can be traced to a local legend.  According to this legend, there was a merchant from Arabia who stole a precious pearl from his homeland.  He brought this treasured pearl to Guangzhou to auction off to interested buyers.  But because of the pearl’s value and national importance, the State of Arabia issued an order for its select people armed with loads of money to go to Guangzhou and buy the beloved pearl back.    The people were successful in retrieving the pearl and brought it with them onboard a ship.  But during the trip home to Arabia, these chosen people carelessly took out the pearl to marvel at its beauty.  The pearl somehow fell into the river and eventually changed into a big shiny rock.  The river was the called the Pearl River.

Locals at the Pearl River

My first encounter with the Pearl River was during my very first trip to Guangzhou.  Guangzhou, or what is more popularly called Canton, is the capital city of Guangdong province and is home to the annual Canton Fair.  This city is constantly bustling with excited tourists who come over from all over the world.  Given that it is the capital, it is the heart of the Guangdong district when it comes to economics, science, finance, education, culture and politics.

My hotel then was in an area that was quite near the Pearl River.  All I had to do was walk for five minutes to get there.  Because it is practically located in the heart of the city, it is impossible not to spot the river.  I can also say that somehow it breathes life into the bustling city.

On my last day in Guangzhou, I decided to wake up earlier than usual and go for a walk along the river as I noticed that a lot of people flock to this riverside the night before when it was so alive with twinkling lights. My hotel’s concierge also informed me that the Guangzhou side of the Pearl River is where one can find the hippest spots and the most famous sights in the city.

Pearl River Cruise

Another highlight of one’s visit to Guangzhou is the most talked about Pearl River Evening Cruise.  These cruises can be arranged by any hotel or local travel agent.  This is a delightful way of enjoying the vibrant city and the night scenery complete with the calm caress of the water and the starlit skies.  These cruises glide on the water from West to the East and passengers are also entertained by local songs and hymns that are played onboard.

Unfortunately, I was booked the entire night and could not go for a night walk or even join the cruise.  I simply decided to see what the river had to offer in the morning.  I was not disappointed. Even at 6:00 am, there were already throngs of people doing their own things by the river banks.  In one brochure that I got at the airport, it was written that there are ten bridges that were built over the Pearl River.  These bridges include Guangzhou, Haizhu, Haiyin, Huanan, Hedong, Jiefang, Jiangwan,  Luoxi, Renmin, and Zhujiang.  Both sides of the river are also adorned with various tourist hotspots, commercial establishments, architectural structures, and numerous hotels like the Guangzhou Hotel .    While walking, I also noticed some locals doing their morning taichi while some were just sitting by the benches and were obviously attacking their breakfast noodles bowls with enviable relish.

Pearl River Bridges

I was certainly happy I decided to go for that morning walk.  I didn’t only get to walk on the banks of the Pear River but I got to see the locals and understood more about how they go about their daily lives.

I promised myself that I will certainly go back to try that Pearl River Cruise.  But in the meantime, I satisfied myself with my very own breakfast beef wonton noodle bowl which I enjoyed while seated on bench by the Pearl River.

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