Shenzhen is a major Chinese city adjacent to Hong Kong. It is a vibrant economic power house, home to the Shenzhen stock exchange and many top-tier technology firms. With 9 million residents, its population has surpassed Hong Kong despite its short history of about 30 years only.
Although I grew up next door in Hong Kong, somehow I have never visited Shenzhen (besides using it as a jump off point to other parts of China). Yesterday I have an opportunity to take a dip into the city. It was an unplanned trip. I know nothing about the layout of the city. I have not even bother to purchase a map since it is only going to be a few hours. Instead I just trust my instinct. I jumped on the metro and managed to emerge in the heart of the central business district.
Shenzhen Business District
Upscale Shopping Mall
It was more than 10 years since my last visit to China. During the time the economic and urban development of China has make huge stride. I want to witness the extend of development myself. If a cityscape of glass-clad office towers and upscale shopping mall is an indicator, Shenzhen has surely joined the rank of world class cities. The Central City Shopping mall is as good as any great mall in the world. Satisfied with what I saw, I decided to move on.
According to the map in the metro station, there is a large garden outside of the mall. I set off to explore it. The garden is separated from the mall by a wide boulevard. In order to access it, it seems I have to get on an elevated walkway. But how do I access the walkway?? This has become an unexpected challenge for me. I walk in and out and around the mall before I finally found the unobvious access to the rooftop garden.
The park is an oasis in the large city. It is well manicured with stylish fixtures that any city will be proud of. It is also a great refuge for birds and a delightful place to hear their chirping. There is only one issue though. The park is eerily devoid of people. I mean this is a prime real estate in the center of a metropolitan. Where is everybody? New York's Central Park it is not, all I can see is just a sea of green. Perhaps no one is as foolish as me to go outdoor under midday's summer heat. But I suspect this is not the only problem. Perhaps the park's access difficulty has challenged not only me but also the locals.
Shenzhen Cultural Center
I went out to see the soaring architecture of the Shenzhen Cultural Center on the other side of the park. I figure the building is too far for me to walk to. So my goal is to find a vintage point to take a good picture. This require a long walk through some confusing pathway in an empty park. But the walk just keep getting longer without going anywhere. Many times I have considered to give up my pursuit. This will be a slap in my face since I pride myself in my wayfinding skill. When I finally reached the edge of the park, I found a boulevard and the cultural center in a distant. Nice architecture. But there seems no way for me to continue the walk. It is not even an inviting landscape for a pedestrian. I just took my picture and then walked back.
By now I have spent a fair amount of time walking under the sun. I need to return to civilization to grab my lunch. But there are more long trek before I have finally reached a shopping center and its food court. I finally got a sense of Shenzhen's cityscape. It is a new city done in grand scale, wide boulevards, monument buildings and huge parks. But it is not a livable city that I enjoy.
Las Vegaseque Sheraton Hotel
You can tell I was getting cranky. The lousy Chinese fast food I have had did not help either. I rushed back to the Hong Kong side to end this short trip.
2010.06.30 comments -