Shenzhen, December 10th
Asia trip 2018-2019
All I have heard about Shenzhen is how much of an impersonal city it is. It grew faster than any other one so it has little history but many people. So I was curious to see it by myself. That’s why instead of going directly to Guangzhou – place that I knew as Kanton – I decided to spend one day at Shenzhen.
The day started in Hong Kong where I do a last visit to the high-speed train station surroundings. The Kowloon Park is a quiet green space that even includes an aviary. I take my time to take some pictures and watch the birds. Next and last stop is the Temple Street market. The night market is closed, but I visit the close by food market. It’s packed with people and very alive. Two characteristics that are true for Hong Kong as a whole.
It is recommended to start the immigration process at the high-speed train station one hour before departure. I was there one hour and a half and I do not repent doing so. The immigration process takes place in the station itself and is fast and easy. But you may find that people in the queue in front of you can take a very long time. Just make sure that if you want something to eat you buy it in the convenient stores of the station as once you start the process there are no more food shops. You will get help and guidance all the way in from the station employees.
The first thing to do in Shenzhen is to purchase a wallet card. I try to ask about it at a convenience store to no avail. I point to the card reader and ask for where to buy a card. Their lack of English knowledge and mine of Chinese makes for difficult communication. So, I move on. In the end, I purchase a one trip token. Once passed metro security, I see the vending machine for the Shenzhen Tong cards. I take the opportunity to purchase it. Even that all the text is in Chinese, it’s so easy that I get my card at the first try.
As expected, Shenzhen is not a touristic city. But, I find interesting things to do. I visit Splendid China, Folk Culture Villages, a mixture between an open-air museum and recreational park. I know nothing about how the park works, I am just able to get on time to the last 10 minutes of one of the many live performances. And, yet, it takes me around 3 hours to visit it as it is a very large space.
As with the History Museum in Hong Kong, or any other history museum for that matter, the park is designed to create a feeling of national identity. My reading is that Chinese identity is composed of many different cultures, each of them unique.
The park is divided into two parts. One part is a set of life-size villages representing all different cultures inside China. In the villages, you can see live performances and enter some of the buildings. If you are looking for a “real” experience, it does not feel like one. But, for me it has been a fast way to learn how China sees itself thru its own eyes.
The second part has miniature buildings that range from the Great Wall to the Forbidden Palace. I find many interesting places, places I would like to visit in the future.
While booking the hotel in Shenzhen I had some doubts about its exact location. There where several hotels with a similar name. Before starting the trip, I purchased a China Unicom SIMM. It’s just 2Gb of data, but more than enough for my navigation needs. Having internet access and using the address in AMap the hotel is, luckily, easy to find.
And the day ends at the hotel room. Just the bathroom is almost as big as my entire room in Hong Kong. Shenzhen is a big city with big spaces, tall buildings, and big hotel rooms. Just with one day as a tourist to judge, I did not found that soulless experience, but just a normal modern city with interesting things to do in it.