Tuesday 21 August 2012

First Impressions: Shenzhen, China

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 I didn’t come to China with much idea of what to expect.  I had attempted some research, but the majority was fairly sparse, and so early on I had adopted the wait-and-see attitude knowing that whatever I read would probably seem different through my eyes anyway … and it was.

For a little background, Shenzhen is a very new city. It was China’s first Special Economic Zone and started as a sleepy fishing village of a couple hundred thousand and has blossomed into a mega-city of 15 million – all in 30 years. It sits on the south coast of mainland China and is a stones throw from Hong Kong.  Though the province is purely Cantonese, the city itself is largely Mandarin speaking due to the fact that almost everyone who lives in Shenzhen is from somewhere else entirely (remember, it’s only 30 years old). This mixture means that while historical culture may be lacking, personal culture is in abundance!

The main expat neighbourhood (not where we live)
with a view of Nanshan Mountain in the background

The following are some first impressions I’ve had - keep in mind I’ve been here five days.

Biggest Surprise: how green the city is. Knowing the city was so new, and how quickly it grew, I expected a lot of concrete, a lot of high-rises, a lot of people, and not much else. There are definitely all of those things, but there are also a lot of (big) parks, tree lined streets, and public gardens. All of the highways are lined with planters and flowers and vines (even the overpasses), giving the effect that a jungle has decided to make it’s home here too.  And best of all, there are a few small mountains dotted around the city that provide an extra dose of awe.

some blurry dinner of spicy green beans, pork/mushroom something and noodle omelette something ... something something.

The Food: Awesome. Whether we've just been lucky, or it really is all this good, I'm not sure but I'm happy.  As a lover of food I've been in heaven for the last few days. Yes there have been some surprises (like the deep-fried chicken feet at lunch today), and you basically order by pointing at pictures on the menu and hope you get something vaguely similar to what you thought, but that's all part of the adventure. So far, so awesome. 

Cool & Refreshing - Cucumber flavour

The Weather: Hot! They weren't joking when they warned us it would be hot because it totally is. Luckily it is a bit better than anticipated due to the fact that southern Ontario is plagued by intense humidity, so I'm at least used to the feeling of always being a little bit sticky (too much information?). Additionally it's a whole lot less rainy than expected as well, which is obviously awesome.  Living in a tropical climate, they have the typical rainy and dry seasons, we are in the rainy season at the moment and have yet to see too much of it.  Naturally, as soon as I post this mother nature will cackle and show me what she's got.

Yes, there is IKEA. Yes, we went.

The People: Smily, and often staring (red, curly hair is not an everyday occurrence here). I haven't interacted with a lot of people (other than other teachers), but so far they are willing to try just as hard at sign language and everything else in order to communicate as I am, so that's a plus. 

All in all it's been awesome so far - we're settling in fairly nicely, we've thoroughly investigated our closest grocery store, we've been to Ikea and we're getting into the swing of daily life (sort of ... classes start next week - eek!).

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. I am glad your first few days and experiences were positive. Hope the first week of classes go smoothly.



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