I Don’t Speak Cantonese

My very last trip was to a small town called Zhaoqing 肇庆 in Guangdong province, just a few hours’ drive from Hong Kong. It was a three day field trip for a class I took on Confucianism. I knew I wouldn’t know anyone else on the trip, so that was okay. What I didn’t know, however, was that the field trip would be conducted entirely in Cantonese. Even though the class was taught in English. Great.

We went to some pretty cool places, but since I didn’t understand any of the explanation and no one was nice enough to translate for me, I really couldn’t learn anything more than what I could see.

We went to an old Hakka village, which was pretty cool to look at, but honestly I have no idea if the place had any historical significance.

Also a couple of temples: one Confucian temple that used to double as a school, and one for the Dragon Mother, a goddess in a local folk religion. Or something like that.

We also took a boat tour around the lake at the Seven Star Crags park, which was gorgeous…

…and hiked to a very beautiful waterfall in Dinghushan.

We had a bit of free time each day, so I got to do some people-watching, too.

It was definitely cool to see a part of China that wasn’t a huge city completely overrun by tourists like Beijing is. That being said, I don’t feel like I really got anything out of the trip. We saw so many beautiful things, but I never knew what I was looking at. I wish I had known beforehand about the language issue – I still don’t understand why they didn’t tell me. I would have rather gone on another trip with friends instead.

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One thought on “I Don’t Speak Cantonese

  1. Hakka is the original culture of Guangdong province which is sadly being subsumed in a rush of mass immigration from the rest of China. So yes the village has a certain historic significance in that it represents real Southern China prior to mass industrialisation. It’s quite unusual for tours to be conducted in Cantonese here even though it is the local language as most visitors tend to be Mandarin speakers. It’s a shame you couldn’t learn more as I’d have been very interested in the content – as I’m intending to explore the same areas soon. Great post though and lovely photos, thank you for sharing.

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