Archangel's blog A pointless waste of time


Shenzhen My Old Friend

The bus ride was supposed to take 13 hours according to lonely planet. It took 8! So I arrived in Shenzhen a little groggy right after 5 in the morning. After a short walk to the metro station I was promptly informed that the first train departed at 6:30... So I had no other option but to park my but outside and wait. But I was by no means alone, there were plenty of Chinese doing the same. But since I was the only westerner in sight I drew a lot of stares. Some of the children even pointed.

Then the chaos! The subway in Shenzhen is really in need of optimization! Paying tickets and getting in are making huge lines. And I have no idea what hey are doing by the machines either. It's completely in Chinese but I still use them faster than most Chinese! And when they enter the turnstiles they wait for the doors to close after previous person before presenting their token. This presents a gap of several unnecessary seconds between each person which quickly adds up to minutes and long lines. And trust me, that wait is not necessary! When it's my turn I just present my token and walk, no closing doors and several seconds spared. Add to this that they due to some paranoia have started scanning all luggage larger than a wallet in an airport x-ray machine which again takes up a lot of time... So needless to say, the subway is congested!

But I eventually got to the right station and looked for the hostel. It's located in a new fancy art district with lots of galleries, restaurants and shops. Sadly it wasn't as easy to find inside this complex as the complex was to find. I wandered around for a while before calling them. And again with the language barrier... She couldn't properly explain how to get there, even though she knew where I was: outside the Starbucks! She opted for outside help and asked if there was anyone near me who spoke Chinese. So I looked around and saw a young guy who looked like he could be the helpful type and gave him my phone. He first looked a bit perplexed, then talked to the lady for a minute, handed me my phone back and indicated for me to follow him. He then walked me the 200 meters through smaller twisting streets to the hostel! And I should add that the hostel was in the opposite direction of what he was walking in when I stopped him. I love helpful people!

Since I was so early it turned out to be impossible to check in to my room yet. But I payed and could use the shower and then store my bag in their luggage room. So after a quick freshing up I headed down town. Time to browse among the toys! Both previous times I have been in Shenzhen's technology district I have arrived so late that most stores were closed (unlike stores in Hong Kong they keep more normal business hours). This time I arrived so early that everything was closed!...

Still the better option! Since I could find no smaller stores or restaurants in the area I caved in and had a quick breakfast at McDonalds. And then sat down on a bench outside one of the large malls and watched the manager give the employes the daily pep talk outside on the side walk. Then it was opening time! Sweeeeeet!

I could mill about that street for a day! So many nice things and so many weird trinkets. Wonderful! I couldn't resist the temptation to ask the price for the Canon 60D and play with it a little at several places. The prices seemed a little lower than what my research for Hong Kong indicated. But I would not fall for temptation since I had gotten recommendations for reliable sellers in Hong Kong but knew nothing of these. So ask around and then maybe google a little later.

I walked these stores for a few hours until I felt dizzy, tired and hungry. So I decided to head to Lao Jie, another shopping district, but one with more restaurants and where the shopping is for smaller items.

I quickly chose (at random) one little restaurant with tables on the sidewalk and from their menu ordered dumplings with some nice soup. Or so I thought! I got the dumplings (and ate them) and a bowl of water with lettuce and tripe... I did as one should and tasted it but could not eat it. So the dumplings had to suffice. Luckily the whole meal was only 10 Yuan, so it wasn't that much of a loss.

Then I got lost time upon time in this maze like area where you go into one building and have no idea where you come out after having scurried around several floors with millions of vendors. Again spent quite some time just wandering about and looking at the goods. Felt nice and relaxing.

Then I decided to check out the "Mix C" mall where we hung out a little back in the days. Still looked mainly the same. Still has a ice-skating rink on the third floor. These shops aren't as much fun as in the previous districts but still worth the visit. And checked the cinema which showed a couple of films I could see myself enjoying. One looked like an action movie, so I'm going to go for that since I'll probably get it even without subtitles. Unfortunately I was just a few minutes to late for the early screening and couldn't see the later today since I'm meeting Stoprock tonight. So I'll go to the movies tomorrow.

After all this I headed back to the hostel to freshen up and relax a bit. Soon I'll head out to meet Stoprock. Looking forward to it!