A Fun, Quirky Old Broad
My trip to the south China coast was enlightening. I got to see a different face of China in Shenzhen, in many ways it was like traveling to a different country. If Shenzhen is like a different country, then Hong Kong is like a different planet.
Of course there were a lot of the same strange things happening in Shenzhen that I see here in Liuzhou. Parents letting their toddlers unabashedly take a dump on the sidewalk comes to mind as well as the “bring it from your toes” lugee hocking that I hardly seem to notice anymore. I saw men and women alike cutting their toenails in public, just as I do here. There were the same smells, in fact a lot of it is exactly like what I experience every day in Liuzhou. The difference has a lot to do with pace and attitude. The “vibe” is palatable and it seems like everyone has an agenda. The architecture is ultra modern chic, the traffic is reminiscent of LA and the place is over-run with scores of uber-hip young Chinese. I saw more laowai my first day in Shenzehn than I see in two months in Liuzhou. The place feels like it is moving, literally in motion. Oh, and there is an ocean. I like the ocean.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a man on a mission (a few actually) and Bob and I began the afternoon of the first day looking for some shoes. There are no shoes in Liuzhou big enough for me. Seriously, you can not find a size 13 shoe in Liuzhou. Based on the population alone, more than 9 million, I figured I should be able to find some shoes in Shenzhen. We found nothing. No size 13 (48) shoes. I am fairly certain there must be shoes to fit me somewhere in that town, but again after four days of looking we never found them. We did stumble across some nice fake watches in Luohu. I picked up a cool Tag Heuer wannabe for 150RMB ($22). We covered all of Luohu and the Dongmen shopping area and got some interesting photos in the process. This little one was taking in the sights of Dongmen from Daddy’s shoulders on my first afternoon in the city.
The best thing about Shenzhen, at least for me playing tourist on a four day holiday, was the opportunity to get some western food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chinese food but there were just some things I had been Jonesin’ for after 15 months, in particular, Mexican food. Bob found a place in Shekou called Amigos. I ate way too much but it was incredible. I’m not sure if it was incredible because I hadn’t had any Mexican food for so long or if it was truly as good as I thought it was. Does it really matter? Viva La Mexico! The other big score was coffee. It is difficult to find good coffee in Liuzhou. Not all-together impossible but extremely difficult. I saw the first Starbucks in a mall near the Wal-Mart and Bob had to wait while I got my caffeine fix. Yes, it was overpriced. Yes, Starbucks is paramount to The Evil Empire. I didn’t care, at that moment I would have paid four times the amount and been just as happy. Here is something you definitely don’t see in Liuzhou.
Scratching An Itch
On the Saturday of my visit we took the ferry over to Hong Kong. Hong Kong felt a lot like New York to me. Electric. One day is not enough but it was still fun. I met some great photographers who also happen to be really nice guys. I had a really good cheese burger, a cold Stella Artois, rode the Star Ferry, survived a Hong Kong Taxi and got to see one of the world’s great cities. I also found some size 13 shoes in Hong Kong. They were not Bob Barker approved, as the price was NOT right! Anyone wanna’ send me some freakin’ shoes?
All in all, it was a fun trip. I spent quality time with my good friend Robert Lio, took some decent photos and got away from Liuzhou for a few days. I need to go back some time and really soak it all up. A week might do it justice. When I first came to China I remember saying things like, “Yeah, but Hong Kong is not real China.”, which is of course a load of crap, akin to saying New York is not real America. Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Liuzhou and even tiny little Shatang Town where I teach, it is all China. Warts and all, she looks pretty good most days. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes repulsive. I’m not sure I want to marry her but she’s definitely a fun quirky old broad.
Speaking of fun and quirky old broads, Happy Birthday to my little sister Debbie! I hope you have a great day and know that I am thinking about you!