24 February 2018

On The Borderline... Shenzhen, China!

In the zone from the previous day's sightseeing I was fired up for my second day in Shenzhen, China. Looking for a Hong Kong style Dim Sum breakfast was surprisingly easy, my Chinese map reading skills have progressively gotten better! Due to some outdated travel website I got into some hot water on the borderline, but life would be boring if everything was plain sailing!

Waking up early at some ungodly hour I was ready for my trip to Zhong Ying Jie, before that enlightening experience I consulted my Dianping restaurant APP for local Dim Sum breakfast suggestions. Navigating the quiet side streets only a couple of paces away from my hotel took me to a restaurant I didn't take the name of, it was early and being the only place open with people already eating it looked good. Getting past the Chinese only menu I ordered two Dim Sum breakfast dishes with some Hong Kong milk tea to start my day. It was all for a good price and it tasted mighty fine, I was set for the day and it wasn't even nine in the morning yet! I was almost taken back to my sumptuous breakfast experience that I had in Hong Kong in 2016 with my HK bestie, Kelly. Were things going too well? I didn't want to walk as much as I did the previous day but I was given another challenge that I shall reveal in time.

Taking the correct bus things seemed to be going really well, unspeakably well and that didn't feel right but I wasn't going to be negative because at that point things were smooth. Reaching the correct bus stop I saw the street signs guide me towards my so-called destination, I even had my passport ready! Zhong Ying Street being a popular Hong Kong shopping street had been managed by both British and Chinese forces and I had wanted to see what was going on, oh and to get some HK goodies too! Hitting the borderline I saw the street past a bridge, curious and not sure where to go I showed my passport to the China guards at the pedestrian access point for Chinese English Street, but that border didn't allow foreigners or even out of town Chinese people, or even Shenzhen residents who lived outside of Yantian District! A special permit had to be issued to those local Chinese people as smuggled goods posed to be the reasoning for the immigration restrictions. No, I wasn't best pleased! 

Slightly dismayed but not at all fazed that shadiness I got back to the city centre, finding my way back to the Luohu Border Port that was a hype with people crossing over to Hong Kong and back into China. The mix of Cantonese and Mandarin made such a contrast, I would even say I could tell by their different facial appearences who was a Hong Konger and who was from the Mainland. I stood for a few moments over-looking the border point, I had crossed over that borderline two years previous with such trepidation, the area seemed more open the second time round with less shadiness, I would have no issue crossing for a second time but my feet were staying firmly in the Mainland for obvious reasons, well the morning's goings on had decided that fact without a doubt. Making use of the close proximity to Shenzhen Railway Station I fetched my train ticket for the following day to Xiamen to be supier organised. Oh, what a day S!

Taking it easy I went back to my hotel for a little rest, after that refreshment I made my way back to the area close to my hotel where I had had my breakfast that morning. Feeling hungry for something Hong Kong once again I had already seen a closed Hong Kong restaurant, having opened I tried my luck to see if a little luck wanted to come my way. Having a spaghetti dish it was lovely to have something normal, it reminded me of an ordinary dish I could get at home in England. My lunch was served with the same delicious Hong Kong Style milk tea, because I really couldn't get enough of the stuff! It was lovely! The day so far had been hectic, I looked back on my morning and put it all into perspective that travelling in China can be unpredictable at the best of times and downright insufferable at the worst of times! Moving on to the next phase of my day I wanted to see something pleasing to the eye, thankfully that didn't involve any borderlines! O, Shenzhen kept me on my toes!

Stepping out into the early evening light I stood amongst a vast avenue of electronic megastores, calm and collected due to the Spring Festival holiday it was easy to roam around without any complications. Shenzhen's bread and butter has to be its electronics, from Apple to China's own brands like Huawei there's a lot to choose from along Hua Qiang Bei. I was not in the mood to purchase anything electronic because that wasn't on my radar but it was definitely worth to see a crazy place deathly quiet, it really was! Everything looked shiny and new, something told me a massive development project had not long finished? Hua Qiang Bei had been one of the places on my list, only a few stops on the MRT away from my hotel and even closer from Luohu, it made sense to conclude my Shenzhen trip surrounded by a hushed version of SZ's electronics hub. Yes, I thought what would Shenzhen have without its own Silicon Valley?

The ridiculousness of the the day didn't mean anything as I sat in a lovely restaurant having recieved some Lucky Money from a friend, well I tell a lie because it was from a previous parent from my previous kindergarten as I have a tradition of sending their son money for New Year and Chinese New Year and maybe Christmas if I am feeling generous, money back for me is never expected or asked for but it was lovely to have a little bit of extra money to enjoy a beer and a burger to toast my Shenzhen experience. As I returned to Shenzhen North Railway Station the next morning I was taken back to another 2016 Chinese Spring Festival flashback, that high speed station was so awkward to navigate then but in present 2018 time it was a piece of cake, even with the crowds of people who were also getting trains across China growing high speed network! From the moment I arrived on my Hainan Airlines flight to that early morning train departure there wasn't a dull moment at all! No!

Seriously? Shenzhen!

Joseph Harrison 

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