So I've been in Shenzhen now entering my fourth week (though this past weekend was only my first full weekend in town). I have seen almost none of the city beyond a small strip of Luohu probably less than a mile long and centered around Bao An Lu. I know of one mall (the oddly named Mixc) and the majority of restaurants I know are either inside that mall or within a block of my apartment. I want to explore some more, but on a stroll the other night, I found out why exploring has its flaws, as I happened upon what looked to be a small "red light" area where girls scantily dressed were looking outside boredly (fortunately I wasn't alone)...This past weekend I went to the shopping area on Hua Qiang Bei Rd, though I think that's still Luohu District, so I can still say that I've only left Luohu one time, to visit a friend of my cousin. I'd like to get to the bar street in Shekou, but am not going there alone and, in any case, right now its under water. So here goes, my impressions of this city, and while they may be rash judgments, its my blog and I'll stereotype if I want to. You have a problem with it? Leave a comment. Wait, seriously, leave a comment!
1. Rain: It rains here everyday. As mentioned above, I have been here for a bit more than 3 weeks, it has rained on 21 of my 23 days here. Typically the rain is a very large rain that ends after 15 minutes to a half hour, but IT RAINS EVERYDAY!
2. It. is. HOT. Okay, Beijing and Chicago are hot in the summer, everywhere is hot, doesn't anybody listen to Al Gore? But the heat here is unbelievable. And because the above point about all the rain, it is crazy humid. And because of this, the rain rarely cools things off, it just makes you hotter afterwords...
3. Shenzhen girls are EVIL. Granted, I've only met 2 and 1 is a coworker who is one of the sweetest people you could meet (perhaps her time abroad dulled her evilness). This is the ultimate in snap decisions, but I stand by it. So, for the record, Beijing girls lack warmth (不温柔), Sichuan girls have crazy tempers, and Shenzhen girls are evil.
4. There is a strange habit of "sanitizing" your chopsticks with your tea that, having traveled to at least half of China's provinces, I've never encountered anywhere else. The process goes like this: you are poured a cup of tea and a bowl (or pitcher) is placed in the middle of the table, you swirl your chopsticks in the tea, pour the tea into your bowl and swirl you spoon in it, then for further protection, when you pour it into the communal bowl, you pour it over the middle of the chopsticks, where the tea may not have touched. Then the waitress comes, pours you a new cup of tea, and takes the bowl away. I am a little frustrated that I was beaten to this topic by Shenzhen Undercover, especially considering he's been here a long time and just decided to post on it this week! As far as I remember, I never encountered this in Guangzhou, either (though I have come across it in the smaller "cities" around Shenzhen). Does anybody know how long this has been going on? My spot hypothesis is that this is a further precaution taken in the post-SARS world, but perhaps people have been swirling their chopsticks in their tea long before anyone had ever heard of SARS.
5. It is really HOT! (psst! It rains a lot, too!)
6. People are extremely generous to beggars here. On multiple occassions, I've seen people slipping beggars RMB5-10, something I've never encountered anywhere else in China.
7. It seems counterintuitive considering the above, but I don't see disabled people here. I also have yet to see the blind massage parlours that are so ubiquitous in any other city in China, large or small (replaced by high end massage places that may or may not employ blind people). Especially considering point 6, this seems a bit strange.Yet along those lines, the very few times I've seen disabled people, they are getting around by themselves, an unusual thing in China.
8. Despite this being a city "without culture" and so focused on money, unlike in Shanghai, people here are actually pretty nice (with the exception of point 3). Perhaps its proximity to Hong Kong, but I have yet to see much of the lack of manners that exists in other cities (and the outright meanness of Shanghai). Hopefully this can be chalked up to real kindness among Shenzhen people and not just due to my limited experiences in this city.