5.10.12, 1.12.12, 17.12.12
There are two Shenzhen-Hong Kong border crossings: one at Lo Hu and the other at Lok Ma Chau. Both of them are actually MTR stops on the East Rail Line in Hongkong, making it extremely easy and convenient to get to Shenzhen from the Hongkong side. They are pretty busy places and lucky hongkong people could skip the queues with the e-channels. We saw young children, perhaps 7-8 years old, from Shenzhen who crossed the border everyday to go to school in hongkong. The Shenzhen-Hongkong politics is pretty complex, mention ‘Shenzhen’ to hongkongers and you’ll get a mix of responses. Some hongkong people like Shenzhen because of the cheap pigeons, manicure and massage while some think that Shenzhen is a dangerous land with illegal trading of human organs. The relationship is made even more complex by the China parallel traders who buy milk products from hongkong and resell them for huge profits in China.
Shenzhen is a pretty interesting place. Close to the borders, people spoke to me in Cantonese (it sounded just as though I was in hongkong) but as I ventured further in, I began to hear a lot of Mandarin. I made 3 trips to Shenzhen in total during my stay in Hongkong because there’s quite a bit to see and do in Shenzhen and a day trip just doesn’t do the place enough justice.
Laojie, established during the Ming Dynasty, is the land of cheap shopping. Here’s where I could bargain for things comfortably in Mandarin. There are simply countless shops in the many shopping complexes in Laojie that sell clothes, shoes, bags, wallets, belts, accessories etc that I did not know where to start. The shops themselves have an insane selection of goods which makes it difficult to choose and settle for something. I do not really like to have many choices so I quickly picked what I wanted, bought them and made my way out. The shopping complexes are like mazes with the winding and narrow lanes, I got lost several times while looking for a way out. Laojie also has several 1 yuan shops where everything in the shop is selling for 1 yuan and no bargaining is needed. But of course, those shops only sell limited accessories. The Laojie street sells a wide variety of Chinese street food from the fried squid to the chongqing soup noodles.
I also happened to see how China Mobile did its promotion and it was pretty interesting: the people threw plush toys at random passer-bys and people scrambled towards the shop, pushed one another and snatched the plush toys. It’s crazy, especially considering that those plush toys are selling for a very low price just nearby in the malls. Then, the guy in charge shouted that he would give away 10 free mobile phones and more people gathered and pushed one another in that small shop. Later on, after further yelling and sensationalizing, he revealed the catch which was to sign up for a China Mobile plan. Some people left after that but there was still a substantial number of people who stayed.
10 minutes walk from the crazy Laojie is the quiet People’s Park with the lush greenery and beautiful rose garden. Having stayed in Hongkong for a while, I really enjoyed relaxing in the spacious park.
2. Minsk world.
Shenzhen is perhaps the Chinese city with the most number of amusement parks. I vaguely remember visiting the Window of the World when I was very young. That was a cute place with miniature version of all the major attractions in the big cities around the world. Now that I am older, it just seems silly to visit a place like this when I could visit the real stuffs. So this time round, I decided to visit the Minsk World with Lauri and Wei Jun. Minsk is actually a former Soviet Union aircraft carrier that China somehow acquired from Russia but it has never been used in a war. So now Minsk is converted into an amusement park and it is actually anchored at Dapeng Bay, Shenzhen. It was quite awkward to see the China flags on a Soviet Union aircraft carrier, I wonder what the Chinese did with it before it became an amusement park. We visited the flight deck, hangar deck , the control rooms as well as the living quarters. In addition to that, there were also souvenir shops, 4D movie show and cafeteria in it. It was quite an eye-opener to see the missiles and torpedoes. It is an interesting concept I must say but sadly, the Minsk is not very well-maintained as many of its metal parts were already rusty and falling apart. I wish that they put in more effort in its up-keeping.
3. Lo Hu Shopping Complex.
Just at the Lo Hu Hongkong-Shenzhen border, there is a mega shopping complex that has pretty much everything, it’s so convenient to visit the mall to get cheap scarfs, socks etc. I also experienced my first foot massage and got myself a haircut there. The people got their customers in a pretty interesting way: as you are going up the escalator, someone would quickly get next to you and ask you if you want to do pedicure/ manicure etc. If you decline his/her offer, he/ she would ask if you want to buy bags/ watches etc. When that happened to me, I just told the lady that I wanted to get a haircut and she quickly led me to a hairdressing salon. I haven’t tested all possibilities but I reckon that you should be able to get pretty much anything just by talking to the person who approaches you on the escalator. On that note, the hairdressing salon in the mall offered really good service, they cut, washed and dried my hair and even served me tea and gave me a back massage for 50yuan.