Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Here’s my take on how China’s biggest and best cities epitomize the show’s characters.
Beijing – Cersei Lannister
While Beijing rules over the rest of China, Cersei’s influence over life in the Seven Kingdoms is unparalleled. Betray her and you’re doomed!
Power-hungry and a political mastermind, Cersei is always within reach of the Iron Throne.
Beijing’s own Iron Throne is the Forbidden City, an enormous museum that was an imperial palace from 1420 until 1912. Nowadays, it’s one of Beijing’s top tourist spots and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Tianjin – Margaery Tyrell
A booming metropolis with 15 million people, Tianjin has risen out of relative obscurity and is now fighting for its rightful place amongst China’s cities. That’s why Tianjin represents Margaery Tyrell.
Like Tianjin’s late entrance to the world stage, Margaery doesn’t make an appearance until season 2 of the show. However, her character constantly builds until she eventually becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Cersei despises Margaery and never takes her eyes off her. Likewise, the Tianjin Eye, built over the Hai River, keeps a close watch over the Tianjin city center.
Best time to visit? A weekday in the middle of winter (if you don't mind the cold). You might even have the whole Eye to yourself!
View from atop the Tianjin Eye.
Shanghai – Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi)
Shanghai is one of China’s most popular cities, just as Khaleesi is one of GOT’s most popular characters.
Portrayed by Emilia Clarke, Khaleesi is the stunning Mother of Dragons. She embodies beauty, strength and justice.
Shanghai’s dazzling skyline, and majestic architecture seen at the Bund, represent all that is Khaleesi.
For the best views of Shanghai, ascend one of the city’s mega-towers. Conveniently, the tallest three – Shanghai Tower, World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower – are adjacent to each other in the Pudong (east bank) area.
Wuhan – Theon Greyjoy (Reek)
Wuhan is one of China’s ‘tier 2’ cities. While it plays an important role in the nation’s economy, it doesn’t have the same status as tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
GOT’s Theon Greyjoy, played by Alfie Allen, is a bit the same. In season 1 of the worldwide smash, Greyjoy plays second fiddle to the Stark family.
While he temporarily breaks free from this mental shackle and rebels against the Starks, by season 3 he is taken captive by the sadistic Ramsay Bolton.
If you’re teaching English in Wuhan, or just passing through, the Yellow Crane Tower is a nice spot to take it all in. Although the tower has been destroyed a number of times (like Reek’s psyche), the traditional design of the current construction gives you a glimpse into the China of old.
Will Wuhan ever become a tier 1 city? Like the evolution of Allen’s character, only time will tell.
A pagoda in the grounds of the Yellow Crane Tower, Wuhan.
Nanjing – Sansa Stark
Nanjing, which literally means ‘southern capital’ in Mandarin, is China’s Sansa Stark.
Over a six-week period starting in December 1937, the Japanese Army carried out a barbaric mass murder and rape of Nanjing’s residents. Known as the Nanjing massacre, up to an estimated 300,000 people were killed in the atrocity.
Like Nanjing, Sansa has mental and physical scars that go way back.
Early on in the series, she’s at the beck and call of Joffrey Baratheon, a cruel king who threatens her with severe physical abuse. Sadly, the abuse continues with new husband Ramsay Bolton.
Shenzhen – Tyrion Lannister
Brash and bold, and nipping at the heels of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is China’s own Tyrion Lannister.
Both Shenzhen and Tyrion Lannister are inextricably linked to money.
From its humble beginnings as a market town, Shenzhen is now one of China’s major financial centers. It’s also known for its shopping destinations, including Luohu Commercial City, a massive mall near the Hong Kong border.
The city’s migrant workers, which number in the millions, all have one thing in common – they’ll do anything to make money!
Son of wealthy Tywin Lannister, Tyrion uses money to get what he wants. On a number of occasions he manages to get himself out of trouble by offering bags full of gold coins.
Hangzhou – Jaime Lannister
Hangzhou is renowned for its natural beauty and picture-perfect scenery. In this sense, the city epitomizes the handsome, chiselled-jaw king slayer, Jaime Lannister.
Hangzhou is dotted with trees and, despite the city’s big population, the air is fresh. Jaime Lannister equally brings a breath of fresh air to the show’s cast.
If you’ve only got a day or two to spend in Hangzhou, hire a bike and ride around the lovely West Lake. It’ll only set you back a few yuan and you’ll be able to burn off some of the dumplings you had for lunch!
Hiring a bike and riding it around West Lake is a great way to see Hangzhou.
Chengdu – Brienne of Tarth
Want to see a panda while you’re in China? Then head over to Chengdu in the country’s west. It’s home to the world’s leading panda breeding and research sanctuary.
Lovable like a panda, early on in GOT we see Brienne of Tarth pledge her loyalty to Catelyn Stark. She’s hell-bent on finding and reuniting Catelyn’s daughters, Arya and Sansa.
Just like pandas struggle to reproduce, Brienne of Tarth faces much adversity in the series. Fortunately, her endearing friendship with Jaime Lannister provides some light relief.
Hong Kong – Jon Snow
Hong Kong is quite different to China’s mainland cities, just as Jon Snow stands out from the rest of the characters in GOT.
Hong Kong is superbly clean, full of high-end stores and even has its own Disneyland.
Despite breaking free from British rule in 1997, Hong Kong still has an air of independence and confidence about it. These are the same qualities seen in Jon Snow.
Unlike Snow, however, Hong Kong is far from dead!
Who's your favorite GOT character and why? Have your say below.