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Newer Page 856 of 968 Older Full Trip Report
China Shenzhen Architecture

14 May 2010

Shenzhen

Well, today I was successful in going to Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
The internet is full of conflicting advice on if, and how to get there, so I can confirm a few things.

First of all, getting to the border station at Lo Wu takes a long time, Hong Kong is not keen for you to get to Shenzhen in a hurry. Unlike all the other MTR trains the one that goes to the 'Frontier Zone' is unbelievably slow, and stops at stations for 5 minutes at a time for no good reason. I could have got out and jogged quicker.
The next trick, which the internet is right about is, you have to get off the train at the station before the frontier zone, exit and reenter the station. You do this if you have the tourist MTR pass, because the frontier zone station is not permitted on the 'free' station list with that pass. So you go free all the way to the second to last station, then pay for the last station (does that make sense?). This doesnt add much time as trains come every 3 minutes.

Once you exit the train at Lo Wu, you must first exit Hong Kong, if you have recently arrived you should already have a departure card (oh yeah, you do need your passport). Theres lines for foreigners that are deserted, the lines for China and Hong Kong residents are huge. I passed straight through with no issue.

Next, you find the small sign pointing up an escelator for visa service. When I arrive there are Americans pleading their case for a visa but they cant get one. The internet is right on that, if you are American you need the full China visa which costs a lot and must be applied for before leaving America.
They look at my Australian passport and confirm its no issue, 'that will be 130 yuan'.
Now I am in trouble, the internet sites describing the process said Hong Kong dollars are fine, not anymore!
So now I have to leave my passport with the visa control board of the Peoples Republic of China, and try and find a money changer in no mans land.
There are no ATM's here, but luckily there are two money changers, they have the most basic of offices and operate out of a briefcase! I guess theres no chance of them getting robbed as theres full immigration control points on both sides. I wonder how they get permission to trade here?
Once I have my money, I go back to the office and theres some muslims attempting to get a visa as well, I just go straight to the payment window, pay my money and get my passport back.
Now you have to clear Chinese immigration and customs, fill out an arrival card. This is confusing because some nationalities have a different card which has been pre filled out before they get there, this seems applicable to Americans who have their departure card dated and stamped for the same day before they can even enter, assuming they already have a full China visa.
I was looking around for this bigger form but couldnt find one, so I asked the police man who told me 'Australian? need not worry, small form like Chinese person'.
So I filled in the smaller arrival card and waited in the foreigner line. In front of me are an entire tour group of people from India.
These guys have full China visas, but their issue is they have flights to Shanghai from Hong Kong, and their China visa is single entry. So if they were to enter China now, they cant enter again unless they get another full visa. A lot of arguing with Chinese border police is going on about this, to make matters worse it seems one of their group has entered china, and had his visa stamped, and the remaining 20 are still technically in the frontier zone.
The same Chinese police man that helped me before, came and got me and took me to the front of the line, and now I am in mainland China.

Too much text and I have barely started!
Outside the station area, I am confronted by more touts than I ever have been before, most want to take me on a guided shopping tour, those ones speak good english. Then theres the guys that just say 'SEX?', 'FUCK!?', they dont seem to speak english beyond that. As you get a bit further away the girls start grabbing your hand 'massage?', 'sex?' etc.
One girl wont take no for an answer, and she walks with me for a couple hundred metres, I kept telling her no and get lost etc. but she kept talking, I tried to take her picture but she was good at avoiding that. Then she says 'you pay now, I escort you now you owe money. You pay or I tell police. You in China now buddy, what you do?'
So theres police absolutely everywhere here, on bikes, complete with red and blue flashing lights, and also elevated police towers. So I say 'OK, we see the police then', and start heading to the nearest police man on a bike. She spit on the ground and ran off!

By the way whilst this was going on I could see police chasing away a number of other touts in the general area, but I guess they keep coming in their thousands.
Once you get about half a kilometre away from the station you are into areas of nice restaurants and shopping malls and all the activity stops. It was kind of fun!

I wandered about for 5 or more hours, stopping only for coffee and later a cake thing. I didnt really want to eat anything weird cause if I got sick and overstayed my visa, id be in trouble!
Shenzhen is the only place I have ever been to where people drive on the right, and as most visitors are from Hong Kong where they drive on the left, I saw so many people almost get killed by speeding busses it was unbelievable. I was ultra careful of this and never in danger, but drivers in Shenzhen are hopeless, its 90% taxis and busses and they just dont care. Much like Macau, pedestrian crossings are nothing more than white lines drivers ignore.
The actual streets are very wide, and parts of the city are surprisingly quiet, but the main area is closed off to cars and very busy, called 'Dongman' (yes really).
Loud speakers are blaring from every shop, and a new thing is, everyone in every shop claps their hands every 10 seconds or so to try to get your attention.
The buildings and malls are very impressive, theres also spas and saunas everywhere, these are all brothels, apparently theres very few actual spas or saunas, I took a picture of an entire complex that is a huge brothel (see below).

Prices for things are cheap as you would expect. A 600ml bottle of Pepsi Max is 40 cents, A big mac seemed to be $1.20 (they have lots of fast food chain stores, including some not in Hong Kong). They also have Wal Mart, who had the blu ray legit version of Avatar for $4. Wal Mart in China is owned by the U.S. company, but seems to be just a supermarket in China.
I guess I could keep going, the malls range from totally made in China crap with people grabbing at you to come into their store, to the most luxurious of malls over the road full of top European brands.
It is still not quite right though, because out the front of a Gucci shop in a beautiful mall with marble tiles, a guy was arc welding in the middle of the walkway.

I managed to get totally lost, which is fun, theres so many tall buildings you sort of cant use them as landmarks, I thought I had a system worked out based on a gold colored building but it turns out most streets have gold colored buildings!

Ok, I crapped on enough about my China trip. Onto the photos.

China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Frontier zone sign.

Frontier zone sign.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Outside the station, where people wouldnt leave me alone and wouldnt take no for an answer.

Outside the station, where people wouldnt leave me alone and wouldnt take no for an answer.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - The buildings are very impressive.

The buildings are very impressive.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - I stumbled across the unveiling of a new Chinese car, Geely I think.

I stumbled across the unveiling of a new Chinese car, Geely I think.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Some of the gold colored buildings I mentioned above.

Some of the gold colored buildings I mentioned above.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - In the Dongman district, theres piles of anything you could want to buy, shoes like in this photo, but also clothes, handbags, socks, umbrellas, kids

In the Dongman district, theres piles of anything you could want to buy, shoes like in this photo, but also clothes, handbags, socks, umbrellas, kids toys. Do you think a truck just pulls up and unloads a big pile of crap to sell? By the way those are 19 Yuan, which is $3.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Many of the stores have bizzarre lighting such as this, I dont know how you can tell what color anything in the store really is, maybe thats why they

Many of the stores have bizzarre lighting such as this, I dont know how you can tell what color anything in the store really is, maybe thats why they do it?


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Dunkin donuts! They dont have that in Hong Kong or Japan to my knowledge. It was full of bike cops (not really).

Dunkin donuts! They dont have that in Hong Kong or Japan to my knowledge. It was full of bike cops (not really).


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Wal Mart.

Wal Mart.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Inside Wal Mart. It had an extensive live seafood section.

Inside Wal Mart. It had an extensive live seafood section.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - This is the worst mall of all time, it is alongside the station, and the narrow hallways are full of people that grab you!

This is the worst mall of all time, it is alongside the station, and the narrow hallways are full of people that grab you!


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Example of the shops in the crappy mall.

Example of the shops in the crappy mall.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - This is the border control station. Although I havent shown it in photos, there are actually quite a few buildings that look Chinese like this one.

This is the border control station. Although I havent shown it in photos, there are actually quite a few buildings that look Chinese like this one.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - I am pretty sure this entire complex is one huge brothel.

I am pretty sure this entire complex is one huge brothel.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - KFC is popular, and sells tacos, beef tacos. They also have bike delivery men. I am not sure if they are samurais or not.

KFC is popular, and sells tacos, beef tacos. They also have bike delivery men. I am not sure if they are samurais or not.


China-Shenzhen-Architecture - Here I am in no mans land. Note my red shirt, I bought it especially for visiting red China. Its the only thing I have bought on my holiday! The secur

Here I am in no mans land. Note my red shirt, I bought it especially for visiting red China. Its the only thing I have bought on my holiday! The security guys were a little bit suspicious of my posing for the camera on the timer.


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