A Trip to Shenzhen-China

Mainland China is one of the most historic places on Earth. From the Great Wall to the Great Fire-Wall, there is something for everyone to enjoy. For foodies like me, there will not be any problem in finding a great variety of food, in fact, you will not have to repeat the same dish twice during the whole trip. Social meals like the “Hot-Pot” and lots of great seafood; it is a paradise for those who have the stomach for it.

Shenzhen is a place that was once known for it’s fishing villages and the export of seafood to the rest of China. The population of Shenzhen now is a mix of people from around the world and Chinese workers who migrate from nearby rural areas to find work in the city.

Since Shenzhen is so close to Hong Kong, tourists prefer to enter Shenzhen from Hong Kong. This is the best way because of several reasons. Firstly, since Hong Kong is a frequent destination for tourists around the world, there are many flights from all over the world to get there. Secondly, for someone who likes driving, the 1-hour drive from Hong Kong to Mainland China is worth the experience. The drive through the hills of Hong Kong and the bridge (also known as the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor) is a sight worth seeing.

The immigration when one enters China from Hong Kong is something most people are not used to. Think of it as a drive-through Mc Donald’s, but only difference is that they are checking your passport and allowing you to enter into China and not asking for your order of food. And for those of you who want to know, you cannot order a Big Mac and fries “to-go” in the drive-through immigration!

Shenzhen is famous for one thing than any other. And that is counterfeiting brands. If someone wants an Armani shirt for 30 RMB, this is where you can get it. From Gucci bags to Louis Vuitton, you can find fakes of any brand known to mankind. I was surprised to see a catalogue of all the latest designs by Gucci and Armani, comparing them to the fakes that they sell.

“To not eat local food, is a great disservice to yourself” is a popular saying in Shenzhen. This city is a paradise for those who have a taste for good food. One the most interesting meals one can have in Shenzhen is a “Hot Pot”. As the same suggest, it is a bowl of soup kept on a flame (right in the center of the table). The stew contains vegetables and spices. Once the stew starts to boil, ingredients are to be put into the hot pot and are cooked in the stew. Typically, some of the ingredients are sliced meat, mushroom, dumplings and other seafood.

One of the must see tourist destinations in Shenzhen is the “Windows of the World”. It is a theme park that has the miniature models of about 50 famous places on earth. It includes the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and many others. The replicas of the Egyptian Pyramids and Grand Canyon are surprisingly perfect.

When traveling to Shenzhen, one must be aware of the language problem that one might face in China. Although in Hong Kong, almost everybody speaks a little English, but in Shenzhen, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary in hand. I personally used the iDictionary (Mandarin) on my iPhone and translated some basic words as and when I needed to.

Also, due to the close proximity of Hong Kong, most of the shops in Shenzhen accept the Hong Kong dollar as well, though its best to carry RMB.

So pack your bags and head on to this wonderful city. And if you are there anytime near the Chinese New Year, a festival of feasts decorations and festivities, it would be am amazing experience.

Sohrab Pawar

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/yuan2003/515203183/]