Live from Shenzhen: Wasting Away a Saturday When I Encounter Beckham

The day started with a late departure to "Wang Zi" (or the Grand Prince Restaurant) located in MixC (why the hell is there a c on the end of that?). The place was packed and everyone seemed to be speaking Cantonese. Being in Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province the home of Guangdong hua (Cantonese), perhaps you think this is normal, but Shenzhen is a city of outsiders, and this is a truly rare experience. But there are still native Shenzheners (and of course plenty of HK residents over for the weekend) and they need their dim sum on a weekend morning, so its no surprise, especially considering Wang Zi is probably one of the best (and definitely one of the most impressive places) to enjoy "yum cha." For dim sum fans I'd highly recommend it as its one of Shenzhen's best spots and its a truly impressive restaurant. However, make sure to get there early as the lines get long and prices go up (not sure if they offer the lower prices on dim sum on the weekends or if that is only during the week, will investigate more later).

After that it was off to Dongmen. How to describe Dongmen? Being a Beijinger, that is my reference. So imagine a marriage between a crappy version of Wangfujing and a crappy version of XiuShui. Otherwise just imagine Xidan Shopping Center on a Saturday afternoon, times ten. It is teenagers galore buying fake (or at least very cheap) clothing and bags mixed with a few reputable shopping malls that cause for an unbelievable mass of people at this "walking street" that is extremely easy to get lost in.

What stopped me, and is the main reason for this post, was a discovery in one of the stores selling fake soccer and basketball jerseys. I truly regret not taking a picture of this one of a kind sight. Alongside fake versions of Ronaldinho Barcelona jerseys and Shevchenko Chelsea jerseys, there it was, displayed prominently, a Beckham jersey, but it wasn't a Madrid jersey, nor even an England jersey, it was an LA Galaxy jersey (I really, really regret not taking a photo of it). I am still at a loss for words over this finding. While I don't think Beckham to LA will heighten the quality of play in the MLS or will lead to more stars going there, this is a major coup for US soccer. Ten years ago I bet even a lot of players in the league couldn't name many of the teams and media coverage, even in MLS team cities was nonexistant (not that its much better now). Today, the league is receiving coverage around the globe, granted its all due to a single player and is likely to die down after a few months, but for those that wonder about the impact Beckham is having and how global it truly is, let me tell you, believe the hype.

After Dongmen, more shopping, but this time a bit higher end (fake) shopping at Luohu Commercial Center. The towering behometh, a 5 story building where buying fake purses is just as popular as getting your nails done, is converged upon by visitors in from HK for the day. Here the quality of the fakes is probably better than anywhere else and the focus IS on fakes, mainly fake bags, clothes, golf clubs, and small electronics. It is not a fun experience as the sellers are even more pushy than what you'd encounter at Beijing institutions like XiuShui or Hongqiao, but the goods are good.

Dinner was more Cantonese food at ShengJi, next to Lizhi Park on Hongling Lu (not too far from the DaJuYuan (Grand Theater) metro stop). While it is a bit pricy (much like Wang Zi) the food is high quality and the portions are large. Seafood is what's on the menu and you'll walk past the many tanks full of fish as you enter. The waitresses are relatively helpful (though they don't speak English, for those non-Chinese speakers, the menu is in Chinglish) and surprisingly will offer good recommendations and not just suggest the most expensive items on the menu. The setting and the food mean that it gets my seal of approval.

Not sure if there will be more posts like this in the future, but we'll see. My love of food (and my lack of time to cook) means I eat out a lot, but typically just around my home base. While I've written plenty of reviews on dianping (see the sidebar on the right for my page with all the reviews), I haven't brought that over to this page, yet.

In any case, this is the 3rd in the "Live from Shenzhen" series, expect more to come in the future as I encounter the strangeness and contradictions that make this city what it is.

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