Shenzhen is the modern concrete jungle that I arrived in now the wife and I have moved to China. Having been here since August 19 I think I have a feel for the place and if you were to liken it to a person, then they would be mid 20s self employed, working 12 hour days and partying hard in to the night. It is a young persons city and moves at break neck speeds, never stopping even for 5 minutes, As such I feel way out of my comfort zone.
We have decided to move to a tier 2 city and hopefully a quieter life.
To survive in modern China you need to adapt very very quickly, tech dependant and ideally able to read and write Chinese, forget speaking as almost everything is electronic. If I am honest the “Zai na?” I get from the lady on the bus can be the only talk aimed at me all day.
I don’t find Shenzhen an exciting city for a photographer so I have set a project to find the best places, not the touristy sites but interesting places that I have seen. Let’s have a look around and see what there is………..
Lianhuashan Park, Futian district.
A huge park in Futian district, well worth a half day. Very clean and easily walked around although I image at weekends and holidays you probably couldn’t move in there. We found a lychee tree for nibbles as this week is the start of their harvest time. A small boating lake with millions of mosquitoes and tons of fish to feed.
Upon leaving the park we headed towards the civic centre (as per the photo) and as you can see it’s very clean and accessible. Some interesting architecture to be seen and under the roof we came across a group of break-dancers.
A little further and we came across shopping malls and plenty of places to eat and drink, if you stay for sundown then the lights at night add another interest. A good day out with a little something for everyone.
My home for a while, it’s basically a beach resort. There is a massively over priced shopping outlet, some ordinary and some dire restaurants plus a huge beach, which is basically why people come here. The walks either side of the beach are nice and easy going, small inclines but otherwise smooth paths which lead to seafood street in one direction and Xiaomeisha beach in the other. I don’t go to the beaches for a swim, really because I worry there could be Japanese whaling ships out there wanting to harpoon me. If I did though I would choose Xiaomeisha, it’s smaller and you have to pay but in doing so you will meet a better class of sardine to wedge against. When it’s holiday time I have never seen so many people in such a small place. I can’t comment on other beaches in and around Shenzhen because I have yet to visit any, updates as and when.
Yantian seafood street.
Supposedly famous for it’s seafood market and fresh produce. You can select your items and either take home to cook or pay a restaurant to prepare and cook it for a basic fee. We chose the latter and were not impressed. The shell food we selected was not even washed and so full of sand and grit, they even had the cheek to charge us 40Y for the muck. All the seafood is fresh and clearly labelled with prices, you choose what you want and pay, just take it home and do it yourself.
While I was taking a few photos out in the street a well presented Chinese guy came over to me and said that the village behind the market was much more photogenic and due to be pulled down in the future. Music to my ears, I love recording old places especially if they are going to disappear. He was right, lots of little lanes to walk around, plenty to see and friendly chatty locals. If it’s still there I would suggest taking a look around.
The only bus I know stops there is the 387 or if you are lucky like me to be in Dameisha it’s a half hour walk.
One random note, this I didn’t find out until 3rd visit. There is a ferry from the dock here to Nan Ao, several trips per day @50Y each way.
Dafen painting district.
Quite a few streets dedicated to art and painting, pretty much as it says on the tin. Grab a metro to Dafen on line 3 and when you get off it’s just a short walk, can’t miss it.
If you are looking for paintings for yourself or materials to do your own then have a look here. The locals don’t like people like me taking photos and usually get a bit irate. That’s fine just step back and use a longer lens. Very colourful and lots of photo ops around here. Small private shops as well as a gallery showing off a large and varied works. Clearly people don’t have a sense of humour as 2 of us debated the artistic merits of a fire extinguisher stood next to a display of photos in the gallery. I think stupid foreigners was mentioned several times.
Anyway, not a huge area although worth an hour or two of walking around and maybe coffee or lunch.
This is going to be a trek if you live in central or western Shenzhen, I am on the east side so it was a 1 hour car ride. Make the effort but again I would say weekdays if possible and certainly avoid Chinese holidays, we didn’t.
We stayed inside the fortress in an old traditional building full of spooky stuff and huge spiders, not good…..very not good. It was however a superb location, get up early and you have the streets to yourself. There are places to eat and drink and naturally they are expensive, I suggest leave the walls and find somewhere in the side streets, basically follow the locals. We had dumplings and soy milk breakfast for 2 people 20Y and lunches of rice with veg and meat at 15Y a head. We tried some ‘chicken’ on sticks inside the fortress and were all sick within 30 minutes.
See if you can find the puppet theatre, great people and really friendly, they tell you all about the story and let you try for yourself. Leave the fortress and turn left for the Dongshan temple where you can climb a hill and get great views.
I think because of travel and what to see I would recommend this as a weekend away, too much to see in a single day.
Shenzhen Botanical Gardens.
Now this place is good, you will want to spend all day here, not just a few hours.
We got off at Huangbeiling metro exit C and grabbed the M182 bus, I believe there is another that goes to the entrance too. To get in cost 15Y and just as you enter there is an option to take a 3Y bus to the temple, not a bad choice as it’s uphill and might as well start easy.
After a look around the temple and plenty of photos we were approached by a guy handing out wooden chopsticks and pointing to a room. Turns out it’s lunch time and all are invited. We were given a bowl of rice with a mixture or vegetables on top, very nice and considering there is nowhere to eat in the gardens we were grateful. You sit in a communal hall with wooden tables that seat about 20 ( we went pre virus obviously) Being the only foreigners we attracted a mix of emotions. Some avoided us and stood up while others wanted to sit right next to me and invade what little elbow room I had. Upon leaving you are expected/wished/hoped to make a donation which of course we did.
Next you can just wander around, signs are plentiful and in Chinese/English, good clean toilets are dotted around and a few vending machines for overpriced drinks. Bring your own.
Just take your time and enjoy the peaceful views, plenty to see and great photos to be had.
When you leave grab the same bus back to the metro and go on from there. This is a tourist place and will be well packed at weekends and holidays, I recommend a weekday.