Walking the Haizhu “Smelly Creek” with Trevor

Yesterday after a long lunch with Trevor, Anthony and Hanting near Observation Society, Trevor and I decided to walk the small creek that I spotted yesterday from the window of my hotel room.

The creek runs very close to the OS gallery, it was only a matter of 30 seconds to reach it from there. I asked Trevor if the creek had a name, he said it was just generally known locally as the “smelly river”.

The waterway looks more like a canal, with stone walls shoring up the edges. Unlike our creeks in the Illawarra, it’s clearly an official recreational route, with pathways all along and people jogging and riding bikes.

To walk this little “joiner” of a creek is to realise just how vast Guangzhou is. It looks like a small distance on the map, but it took a few hours just to do less than half of it, heading north. Here’s Trevor inspecting the map as we decide how much of the river to tackle:

trevor looking at map, smelly river

The “x” marks on this map show how far we got:

annotated map

There were numerous obstacles, bridges and giant highway obstructions, as well as outflow pipes from the surrounding neighbourhood which flow into the creek, and fat hydraulic pipes spanning its breadth.

hydraulic pipe, guangzhou river

At one point we had to make a huge diversion due to a blockage of the river where it looked like a new roadway was being built. The waterway was completely blocked by a dump of rubble. This might be one of the reasons the water is not moving at all, and why it’s on the smelly side.

rubble blockage

Our diversion took us through a market selling vegetables, plastic household items, as well as live animals like eels, frogs, turtles and scorpions:

scorpions in market

Trevor lives in Hong Kong, and hasn’t had much time to explore Guangzhou beyond coming here occasionally for exhibitions, so this was as much an adventure for him as it was for me.

And although this walk was an urban exploration of sorts, getting to know the neighbourhood, it was also very much about the two of us spending time together, getting to know each other, while moving continuously through space, with “adherence to the creek” as a guiding score.

And as Trevor said halfway through our walk – after a while you don’t even notice the smell.

trevor and lucas on walk

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