Sky as blue as IKEA in Guangzhou

Guangzhou isn’t the most polluted city in China (Linfen is) but it’s not known for clean air either. Recently I have paid attention to the blue sky, but I’m not sure is my memory short or have there really been a change. The picture was taken yesterday when the air quality was reported to be moderate. (Check daily Guangzhou air quality from Guangzhou_Air at Twitter.)

Even though no one can claim that the sky is never blue in Guangzhou, there sure are also days when all the shades of gray can be seen in the sky.

This picture was taken on 12th April this year from the Sun Yat-Sen University north gate. I tried to find some pollution levels or air quality statistics, but didn’t really find anything good enough about Guangzhou and China in general.

Personally I’m not worried about the air quality and pollution here as long as I can’t taste it. But should I be? Are you concerned about the pollution in China?


  • ordinary malaysian

    The pollution/haze(?) looks bad. Here in Malaysia we have this haze problem usually in the months of June and July, from all the plantation burnings in Indonesia and it can get really bad at times. Is it a problem the whole year round in Guangzhou? And how do Guangzhou folks deal with the problem.


    Sara Reply:

    I think the problem is all year around, or atleast I haven’t noticed any change according to which month or season it is. Air quality seems to be changing a lot in daily basis. One day it’s clear, the other day something else. Seems like local people don’t really think about it. I have only seen few people with face masks and that’s not much in a city of this size. Luckily this isn’t Beijing where I heard the sand storms are really bad in the Spring.


  • brandi

    Hello! Your blog is amaaaaazing, I just learned about it and have read so many entries (I mean this in the most un-stalker-ish way possible!!!)

    Guangzhou is my favorite city in China, and I’m a western girl engaged to a Cantonese guy, so hearing your stories of living there is inspiring and oh so interesting. Like you, I now dream of living in Guangzhou, but for me this dream came about in the opposite way: I met a wonderful Cantonese guy and then after being together for years and visiting China have started thinking about how much I’d like to live there. (Wouldn’t you agree that Cantonese guys are JUST the best??? Also, maybe you should learn Cantonese after you’re happy with your Mandarin so you can speak to your boyfriend in his native tongue! One unrelated thing – I found that, after getting used to hearing Cantonese, it became more pleasant-sounding than Mandarin. What do you think?)

    As for the air pollution, I really, REALLY don’t think Guangzhou has a significant issue. To me the air felt just about as polluted as in New York City – it’s not the cleanest but the pollution doesn’t seem to affect daily life. What is it like in summer? I hear it’s much worse-feeling during the hottest months!

    I also want to give a big shout-out, wave hello and high five to the commenters here who are in couples like ours (western girls dating asian guys)! I strongly believe we all need to support each other, because there are a LOT of haters, and I love how everyone here does that!!! Haters gonna hate, we all know better than them =)

    But that’s enough rambling from me. I wish you all the best in your life in China, and the best for you and your boyfriend, and I’ll be following your blog for sure! =)


    Sara Reply:

    Hi brandi! You just made my day, or my week to be honest! So interesting to hear that Guangzhou is your favourite city because not every foreigner likes this place. And what is even more interesting, congratulations on your engagement for a Cantonese boy! Unfortunately I can’t agree with you about the Cantonese guys in general because my ex in Finland was Cantonese too, but the most horrible person I have met.

    I really wish to learn Cantonese and then it sure would be easier to communicate with my boyfriend because his Cantonese is much better than his Mandarin. But his mother language is smaller dialect even odder than Cantonese :) Cantonese sounds interesting and funny at times, but absolutely really difficult too. I just hope it’s not that difficult as I think.

    I guess the pollution thing is different for me than you because there isn’t anything like Guangzhou or New York in Finland :) Not even close. But the pollution isn’t as bad as I thought before moving to China.

    Brandi, thank you so much for commenting and letting me know that there’s someone else with a Canto guy too! Can I ask you when are you planning to get married? Hope you tag along and once in a while share with us what’s up with you and your boyfriend :)


  • willo

    Agree with C.
    In big cities in China, you can count the days, that the sky is really blue, in one single year, with one hand, or maybe two.

    We Chinese have drained too much from nature, and someday we’ll pay back huge…


  • Mike

    Personally I don’t like it – various studies have provided evidence that it is a predictor for early mortality.

    Although small compared with cigarette smoking, an association between mortality and particulate air pollution was observed.

    Source: Particulate air pollution as a predictor of mortality in a prospective study of U.S. adults.

    I personally have noticed that I get sick 3-4 times more often in China, but I doubt this increase is solely due to air pollution – more likely it’s the general lack of basic hygiene among the masses, and exposure to a greater range of pathogens compared to that present in my home country.

    Still get excited at the thought of moving or traveling to China – air pollution or likelihood of gastrointestinal trouble hasn’t put me off yet!


    Sara Reply:

    Fellow foreigner living in Guangzhou also have noticed that the pollution isn’t that bad in here as it used to be. He also thinks that there’s been a lot more blue sky here than a year ago. So something must be happening, but what?


  • Jill

    I agree with you. Since arriving back from the USA this last month there has been a remarkable improvement in air quality from last year. Every morning I wake up in fear that the old Guangzhou will be back and I won’t be able to breathe again. I am enjoying every day of this cleaner air!


    Sara Reply:

    It’s been a little bit gray during these few days but I do hope that the blue sky is coming back soon!


  • Carlos

    Hi Sarah, congratulations on writing an excellent blog. I’m strongly considering moving to Guangzhou in a couple months and am very happy to have found your site. I have two (probably ignorant) questions: Would you say that year-round, the skies are mostly sunny or gray? And second, I’m very interested in learning some form of meditation while in Guangzhou (probably a Taoist style or Qigong breathing, not necessarily Tai Chi) are there centers or schools for this? As a foreigner, how difficult do you believe communicating with my instructor would be? (I know no Chinese) Thanks!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Hi Carlos, so nice to hear you are considering moving here!

    The sky is mostly grey. It rains a lot in Spring and Summer. There are blue skies during the Summer, but not as much as back home. You can check the pollution situation here:

    Unfortunately I know nothing about meditation or where you can learn it in Guangzhou. If I find anything out, I’ll let you know.


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