EDITOR’S NOTE: Each day during the trip, I would put pen to paper and write down a blog post. I knew I wouldn’t remember all the small details when I was sitting in my room back in Shanghai, thinking about the past few days, so I would grab the back of a paper, napkin, or postcard, and start scribbling. I’m going to post a blog post a day, one for each of the five days, until I have posted them all. It’s like you are watching my trip unfold with a five day lag. Enjoy!
Shenzhen is like Susan Boyle. At first, when you see her, you might wonder what’s going on. And sadly, I must admit I was behaving in a Simon Cowell-esque fashion when I first saw her. I took a step back, gasped, shook my head in disgust, and prepared for the worst.
Yet, over the course of the day here, this city has slowly won me over. While it may not have been the instant “wow” that came with Susan’s first belt in “I Dreamed A Dream”, there has been a moment or two today when I’ve been pleasantly surprised and amused by this place.
At first, not going to lie, I hated it. Traveling solo, I let my mind begin to play games on me. I was walking down a random street, everyone was pointing at me, and I saw a walkway that looked like the Hudson River Parkway but without the Hudson. I had an overwhelming urge to hop in a taxi, leave my stuff in the hostel, and take myself and my good old American passport to New York. ASAP. Then the pathway grew on me.
It was filled with locals singing karaoke, old women using the exercise machines in the park for free butt massages, cute little kids playing their favorite game of “MOMMY! BUY THIS FOR ME! MOMMY PLAY WITH ME! MOMMY GIVE ME ALL YOUR ATTENTION! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!”
I stumbled across Overseas China Town or OCT. First this. PRAISE JESUS.
AC. Iced Coffee. Wifi. Thank you GOD. Then, art exhibits for free, the Eiffel Tower (looks just like the original cough cough), a fake great wall in an amusement park called “Sacred China”, and then a massive pumpkin Trojan horse sculpture. Funny, HOW did they know I always associate those two things in my mind?!
Then the day of exploring took me to Nantou Old Town. A 12-year-old by became fascinated by me and followed me as I explored the old street, park, market, amusement rides, shirtless men playing basketball (well, I didn’t explore THEM…you sick, sick perverts reading this that went there. Jeez. Get your minds out of the gutter.) He kept asking me, “Ni yao qu nail?” “Ni you laogong ma?” To which I would respond “I’m going where I want to be” and “nope, still no husband and don’t think I got one in the last two minutes either since the last time you asked me.”
Suddenly his mother appeared – one of the street vendors selling mystery meat that the people of Shenzhen valiantly and courageously eat each day – and he scuttled off, leaving me once again alone. So naturally, I ended up in a Wal-mart, which is NOTHING like Wal-mart. Chicken feet for sale right next to the toilet paper and Clorox wipes? Totally the same as the Wal-marts that used to be in Bedford, New Hampshire…
And now I’m sitting here eating my peanuts, potato/basically Chinese French fries, and swigging at a bear in Xiangmihu, an outdoor street market filled with BQ joints, crayfish stands, and Xibei food stalls. Apparently there’s a dude here that claims to be Obama’s half-brother and owns a BBQ stand. I couldn’t find it – he probably ran for cover when he heard the Republican laowai was coming.
Some waiter just walked by holding two birds by the wings in his hand. He just went around the corner, ripped the wings off, and is currently hacking off their heads with a machete. Gross. Might vom up my peanuts and Tsingtao any moment.
However, I sit here continuing to write thinking of that scene from the J.K. Rowling Lifetime movie where she was writing in a similar local café but in Portugal when she lived there for a while. Does this mean my blog is going to become the next Harry Potter? I think that’s a logical jump.