I thought I would post this blog up quickly after the previous one, just to ensure that there wasn't any confusion on the fact that I actually DO like China and like being here. There are problems and issues with any country, especially developing ones such as China. Are they unique problems here? Some, yeah... some, not so much.
So, what is good about my adventures so far, what have I learned that has given me a new perspective on life, and what have I actually done to make a difference in not only my life but others around me?...
I don't remember. Excuse me while I go to Wal-mart and figure out if they have any "Ginko Biloba". I just ran out of the stuff I brought with me....
... "50 minutes go by..."
... "2 hours and 12 minutes go by, the computer shuts down into hibernation mode..."
... ok, I'm back! Sorry about that, but I temporarily forgot where the school was from the Wal-mart (it's right across the street).
You see, that is the one key thing I've had the most fun with here (well, aside from the crazy dance nights at the bar, but that's for another story time...) is getting lost on my bike. Awhile back I purchased a bike and began exploring the city in great detail. Each time I'd get lost, and a little farther from home. I'd bike daily for miles just to find something, or hope to find something.
So, what have I found that is more "positive" than the previous blog's attitude? Plenty... once again allow me to list for your convenience:
1) Shenzhen is a new city and thus is designed and laid out extremely well. Nice, wide, biking paths and beautiful gardens along the sides. Streets are relatively wide, and buildings and other elements are in good repair.
2) Beaches! Can't forget those beaches on a hot December day...
3) Shopping! Want fruit? Just walk down to the corner. I can get 6 bananas and a bag of mini-oranges for 1 USD... want new shoes or shirts? Go to Dongmen in 'Luohu' district. Cheap shoes are 8-12 USD, shirts with good designs on them can be had for 3-4 USD. Food is abundant there of course, so be sure to head to the nearest MCD!
4) Oh yes, that brings me to "fast food"... it's everywhere, even the classics such as: McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut (a fancy version), Taco Bell Grande (a fancy version of Taco Bell), Papa John's, and others. Chinese versions include "Mian Dian Wong", "Kungfu", and a few others that are relatively difficult to pronounce.
If you're interested in the local foods or small side-market stuff, just walk down a side-street anywhere and the night markets are full of noodle shops, or just grab an egg roll or bun from a street vendor. Yes, ice cream and all that "junk food" is available as well.
5) Parks and scenery. Everyday I ride my bike (about 20 minutes) to this nearby park, climb the hill up to the top (about 12 minutes), and there is this beautiful outlook of the enter cityscape of Shenzhen (well, Futian, Luohu, and some of Nanshan district elements at least). Riding bike really is quite a pleasure here... well, except for the previous blogs quotes of directional "issues" with vehicles... *shivers*.
6) Nearby city access. I can get to Hong Kong just south within 2 hours and spend a single day there doing whatever I like, or I could go and visit friends and party on the weekends in Guangzhou to the North, or go West and take a nice ferry ride to Macau and gamble a bit.
7) Cheap everything! Well, not quite everything... electronics are plenty here but many things cost almost as much as in the states. Food, clothing, and misc. items are generally rock-bottom cheap though. For instance, I picked up my bike for 400 yuan, which is about 55 bucks (that's with a new lock and all). Full gear bike.
8) Friends. This should really be No. 1 on the list... I've met so many great friends here and other acquaintances, including one I love very dearly. All of them that have forever changed my view of China, the world, and my place in it.
Before coming to China I was a poor soul working an Internet job in my mother's basement (hey, it was nice actually and I look forward to going back.... sometimes the simple things are the best). Now, I'm a fit healthy (except for the weird constipation I've been having this week, but that's for another story...), dance crazy, energetic and motivated individual that has seen more than many may in their lifetimes. I have many stories to tell (including the constipation one...).
9) The Chinese. While they have some interesting ways they go about getting from point-a to point-b, for their development in society, they certainly aren't without manners in most aspects of daily life. Many will say hello to you, help you with things (there are more Wal-mart employees than customers, even during rush hours...), and if you are looking lost (remember my bike rides?) even take more than an hour out of their time to get you on your way. It really is a safe city and country overall, just watch those pick-pockets, and ensure you aren't inadvertently pushed out of line when trying to get on the subway (hey, it's a large city, I guess I can't expect TOO much)...
10) Education. Simply put, China and Shenzhen, the friends in it, have all taught me more about life than I ever thought possible. Learning, experiencing, and understanding the world around you is No. 1 on my list of things that everyone needs to fully take in. I was honestly scared coming to China. I had no idea what to expect. I took that leap back in July and said "I'm doing it, let's just see what happens", at the risk of losing two other wonderful jobs (which I haven't fortunately), and have (so far) loved 80 percent of it (there are ALWAYS bad days, always...). While I feel I've taking a great leap here, the journey certainly isn't over...
"I've seen the elephant, and I've heard the owl, and I've been to the other side of the mountain."