Friday, July 15, 2011


A Couple Interesting Things About Shenzhen, in no particular order:

Physical barriers are needed to keep Shenzhen's millions of residents in line. Bollards stand at many sidewalk entrances and sometimes at the bottom of stairwells, and big metal fences run down the median of major roads. That's not to say that I don't see a hundred people biking the wrong way down the busy streets while mothers with small children and groceries climb the median fence of Shennan Road every day.

The toilets here are weird.

Wayfinding is quite easy, thanks to Pinyin (Latin characters) on most official signs and the enormity of some structures nearby. For instance, I know I am approaching home when I am just north of Space Canoe and its peak is about 30 degrees from the horizon. A sextant would be helpful, also.

Parks in China seem to be very controlled spaces, carefully manicured and full of paved paths. But the use of public space here is extraordinary, especially at night. Just last night we saw:
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Tai Chi
  • A small (25 or so) group of folks singing what I can only assume are traditional songs while someone accompanied on an old Casio keyboard
  • Teenagers making out
  • Seriously good badminton players
  • A large (100 or so) group of folks singing what I can only assume are traditional songs with male/female call and response, led by a conductor, and accompanied by a shirtless man playing an accordion.
  • Many, many other ambling couples
  • Older folks making out
  • Children playing indecipherable counting games (in close proximity to their parents, of course)
  • Roaming packs of joggers
  • A man standing very, very still
My imitation Crocs, which I probably paid way too much for, are stylish and comfortable. So is my fold-up cot. Check 'em:

While we are only a mild oddity in our neighborhood, visiting tourist attractions that draw people from other parts of China makes us - much like apes at a zoo - part of a family's Shenzhen Adventure. We were stuck posing with children and teens in front of a statue of Deng Xiaoping for half an hour. We were reimbursed for our time with fruit.

"It takes two to stupid" is perhaps my favorite Chinese T-shirt so far. But, while I can comfortably wear medium shirts from an American Walmart, I am sized 2XL in China. I have yet to find pants that fit me, regardless of the number of X's on the tag.

Everything is under construction in preparation for the Universad, and a lot of construction happens overnight while it is somewhat less excruciatingly hot. I expect to wake up one day soon and find Rubble Camp (and its associated worker shanties) transformed into Prosperous Glistening Road. Every planner we've spoken to has expressed disdain for the extensive low-quality face-lift the city is undergoing, stating openly that it is a waste of money and the superficial improvements will look ratty again in a year's time.


Andrew Parish said...

Apologies for the atrocious formatting, but the interface is unwieldy and I'm going to Hong Kong, like, right now. Ciao!

Alex said...

space canooooooooooooe

Alison said...

Space Canoe = Kingkey 100, Shenzhen's tallest building

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