Friday 3 May 2013

Local Exploration: OCT Loft, Shenzhen

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Have you ever thought something about a place or activity, and been sure you were right, before you even went there? For example I knew Vancouver was going to be a beautiful city that I could easily live in before I even stepped foot on the plane. I knew this years before I had visited for the first time.  There’s something about the west coast (of Canada and America) that I am just so drawn to. The vibe? The pace? The scenery? A little bit of all of it I think. And while I’ve never been to the west coast of the United States, I already know I’m going to love them. It's just a fact.

Anyway, this post is not about the west coast of Canada or America. It's about China.  And it's about how I thought I knew something about my life in China before I ever got on the plane. Ever had a time like that? We all have at some point, I’m sure. But have you ever been wrong?  I may have been right about my thoughts on Vancouver, but my pre-China thought and my reality are quite different.  

Let me explain... before moving abroad I had the naive thought that I would be exploring a different part of the city almost every weekend. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.  The truth is, there’s just been so much work to do, or to get caught up on that I have done almost no exploring of the city we live in.

Given that it’s now MAY (holy smokes, where does the time go?), it’s about time I got out there and explored again. So this past Labour Day (which they celebrate May 1), I headed out of doors with a friend to explore the OCT Loft area of Shenzhen.

I had been to this area once before for a jazz festival way back in October and had been immediately taken with the ambiance of the place.  It felt like no other place in China I had been, and it still feels that way.  OCT Loft is an open warehouse/art gallery/boutique shops space that reminds me just enough of home to help curb the home sickness that inevitably creeps up every now and again. But also feels different enough that I'm eager to explore each building and turn in depth.

The afternoon was spent meandering around old buildings, sipping tea and eating cake at outdoor cafes, and oohing and ahhing at all the little bits and bobs we pretended we needed in our lives, but ultimately leaving empty handed because we were able to remind ourselves we didn’t actually need them … for now!

It was such a relaxing and peaceful afternoon that we’ve promised ourselves we’ll attempt at least one return trip before the school year is up. And I’ve promised myself time for a little more exploring!


  1. Just wondering whether most of the artisans were not around during the holiday: there are no photos of people making or selling art in your pics. Also, I'm wondering how big (how many city blocks) the area covers, and how many people live and craft there? But, anyway, thanks for the interesting photos that you did post.

    1. Hi - thanks for your questions! From the few times I have been to the area now, I have never seen artisans there making the art. All of the art is sold in independent galleries (which you cannot take photos in), and presumably they create it in their private studios. You may be thinking of Dafen village, which does have many people out and about creating (reproduction) art. You can see more about Dafen in this post:

      As for size... OCT itself is huge. but the OCT Loft area is about 1 city block wide and 3 city blocks long (or at least, that's about as much of it as I have explored). To give you an idea of size, the entire OCT area spans at least two metro stops, OCT and Qiaocheng East - go to the latter for OCT loft and the former for OCT Bay, an area I have yet to explore but is supposed to be great!

      Hope this helps!



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