One thing I have learned from being an expat for most of my adult life is that engaging in sports and outdoor activities is a great way to meet people, as well as to understand a country and its culture better. This has certainly been the case for me in Guangzhou.

Indeed, when I was considering whether to join the faculty at BASIS International School Guangzhou in 2022, one of the first things that came to mind was a business trip I had taken to Hong Kong about ten years earlier. At the time, I was working as an admissions officer at a university and searching for potential graduate students in STEM fields. Aside from fond memories of the students I recruited and the friends I made among colleagues at Hong Kong universities, I remembered getting repeatedly lost in the lush forests and trail networks around Victoria Peak while sneaking in some marathon training between meetings. Part of what drew me to BASIS was the chance to explore more of what southern China offers, especially its green spaces.

Although the name of our neighborhood—Science City—does not exactly bring to mind the great outdoors, the best thing about living near the school is the easy access to outstanding areas for hiking, trail running, cycling—or just having a family picnic. Just minutes from my apartment complex, I can climb through bamboo and eucalyptus groves on small mountains, reaching more than 350 meters. These forays, especially if taken early in the morning, are often rewarding. I have spotted the elusive silver pheasant (and the occasional poisonous snake) on the ridges linking the hills and mountains around our neighborhood. Our location also means that you can get “rural” pretty quickly. It is not unusual to come across chickens, ducks, geese, and sometimes cows. And I always enjoy checking out people’s gardens.

Right next to the school, there is a wonderful, shaded 2.2 km loop for running and cycling. And if you prefer flat ground, there is also a network of running and cycling paths that cut through parts of the neighborhood. On weekends, when I occasionally have a bit more time, I like to go on longer bike rides with my son. One of my most enduring memories of our first year in China was taking my 7-year-old on a 50 km ride, a good portion of which we spent riding with another father and son with whom we could barely communicate. Sometimes, you do not need words to connect with other people (although learning Chinese is highly recommended!).

Another great thing about Guangzhou is that you can always find organized running events, including trail runs and vertical competitions, held in the stairwells of the skyscrapers downtown. As a bonus, many race organizers provide special events for children or team events for parents and children to run together. In February, my son and I won third place in a 6.5 km run on the famous Baiyun Mountain in one of the most beautiful parks in the city.


Guangzhou is a city full of active people, and getting out into the community has been a great way to meet people and develop lasting friendships.

Bram Caplan
Director of College Admissions
BASIS International School Guangzhou

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