In the last days of the Olympics, neighbors in Sanyuanli and residents of the Clifford Estates left their televisions on so that the final matches and last medal ceremonies set the backdrops of their daily lives.
The neighborhoods are similar in many ways. They both sit on the edges of the megacity of Guangzhou. The people who live in Sanyuanli and the Clifford Estates seem to enjoy their ways of life, and exhibit pride in the place where they live. They point browsing visitors to their most cherished monuments — for Sanyuanli, a monument to their victory over the British in an 1841 battle of the Opium War, and for Clifford Estate, the multimillion dollar condominiums that line a beautiful lakeside walk. Which, of course, hints at the two neighborhood’s obvious differences.
Sanyuanli is an upward-growing urban slum, where small businesses line small alleyways and families crowd the upper levels of precarious housing. It’s called a “shake hands village,” where the buildings are so close together that neighbors can shake hands just by reaching out their windows. Clifford Estate is a sprawling and modern development, a gated community for retirees from Hong Kong and upwardly mobile families in China. It’s home to Clifford markets and Clifford restaurants and its own internal shuttle service system.
Here are these neighborhoods in pictures.