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Guanlan Market

This article was originally published on June 3, 2011, in the Shenzhen Daily.
The information was accurate at that time, and may be outdated now. Use with caution.

Detail of the 1923 Gongyi Hotel in Guanlan Market
Modern visitors to Guanlan might never suspect the role it played a hundred years ago. But the small river here runs north all the way to Guangzhou and thence into the Pearl, making more believable the idea that this was once one of the four main markets of Shenzhen.

Gongyi Hotel and a watchtower in Guanlan Market
Little remains today of that past glory. But the nearly-deserted streets, the former Gongyi Hotel (1923), and the century-and-a-half old banyan tree evoke a sense of the past like few places in the city.

The ancient banyan tree lying beyond the new "old" temple steps
Right in front of the banyan is a Buddhist temple built in 2010 with the incongruous name of "Guanlan Old Temple." (There WAS an old temple here, the keeper insisted; hence the name, despite the temple's shininess.) It's so new that only one of its seven statue pedestals is occupied so far, by the pop-Buddhist figure of Guan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The new "old" temple in Guanlan Market
But other than this jarring note, the place reeks of age.

Yet, all is not lost. In one of the unoccupied buildings, I spied a folk altar, and a crew of old ladies fashioning figures of horses to be decorated for an up-coming celebration. So there's life in the old place yet!

Guanlan Market village and watchtowers
To get there, take bus 300B, 312, 332, 370, or others to Jisheng Jiudian (吉盛酒店). Walk north past the Shenzhen Development Bank, through Laojie Park (actually nowhere near the "Old Street"), out the north gate, and keep making your way north through alleys and back streets until you hit the river, just a half a kilometer or so from the bus stop. Then look for the big tree and the lofty watchtowers.

Another article in the Shenzhen Daily: Century-old market near Guanlan River

GPS Info:
  • 22.71955, 114.05371


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