Friday, January 15, 2010

Places to See

The New York Times recently published its list of 31 places to go in 2010. Number 20 on that list was Shenzhen. I'm still trying to understand why anyone who doesn't work in Shenzhen would want to go there--there are a hundred other places in China I would recommend visiting before ever setting foot in Shenzhen. The article mentions the impressive rate of modern urbanization and witnessing the new China. But it sounds like the reporter only took the time to see the nicer areas of Luohu and Futian and neglected to visit the outskirts of the city that are outside the Special Economic Zone.

Sure, there are some great new luxury hotels and shopping malls, but there isn't much else. The art scene in Overseas Chinese Town isn't all that impressive and is nowhere near affordable. As for entertainment, visitors can always visit one of Shenzhen's many cheesy theme parks, like OCT East, Window of the World, and Splendid China. Even the Chinese call it a cultural desert. The most cultural destination in Shenzhen is the Hakka museum in Longgang district.

This seems to be the selling point of visiting Shenzhen in 2010:
Affordable luxuries extend to shopping and eating. The jumble of stalls at Dongmen are clogged with pirated DVDs and knock-off handbags, while there are new fashionable restaurants in Shekou, a leafy district with an expatriate flavor. Shenzhen is getting greener, too. The city recently welcomed the first LEED-certified building in southern China: the aptly named Horizontal Skyscraper, billed to be as long as the Empire State Building is tall.
Yes, you can buy a knock-off of anything in Shenzhen. In fact, it's more difficult to find the genuine article in the city. I bet the reporter didn't stop in the Starbucks or any bars when he visited Shekou, or he would've found enough expats who begin conversations with "You know what's wrong with China..." to want to get out of that neighborhood fast.

While unbreathable air days like the one above are less frequent than they used to be, the city still has a long way to go to become green.

My friend J., who still lives out in Nanshan district commented on this excerpt: " 'Dim sum joints and illicit massage parlors gave way to gleaming shopping malls and faceless skyscrapers.' Not in my neighborhood; illicit massage parlors stil outnumber gleaming shopping malls 20 to 1."


Yokie Kuma said...

I saw that same article and was also dumb-founded .... Shenzhen is okay to live but as a vacation destination? And to name Shekou as an attraction? Holy smokes .....

And then there was the article today saying Shenzhen had one of the highest (if not the highest) population densities IN THE WORLD. yeah, that's a good place for vacation.

And the air is worse now .... subway is being built using explosives now and the concrete/dirt/dust is everywhere ....

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