I know, I know. Many of my posts aren’t exactly filled with love and amazement for my wife’s country, that doesn’t mean that I hate China or even that I hate Shenzhen, it’s just that I’m English and without weather to complain about (though we do, despite the fact it’s usually hot and sunny) we have to moan about something.
So to address the balance here are five things I really love about Shenzhen.
1. Delivery Services
There’s nothing you can’t have delivered to your home in Shenzhen. McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King deliver in under 20 minutes. My local shop will, assuming I’m too lazy to get in the lift and step out the front door, bring me cigarettes, beer and bread at any time of the day or night. I can have pork dumplings (3 portions, hot and steamy) schlepped over in the middle of thunderstorm for less than a pound (that includes the delivery fee). I even get my groceries delivered to my front door through a website that specializes in Western food, and it’s cash on delivery so no awkward problems with payment either.
2. The Shenzhen MTR
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’d be happy to be an official ambassador for it too. This is the best subway system in the world, clean, cheap, frequent and easy to use for foreigners as well as locals. Superb.
Thank your deity of choice for a lack of political correctness, the Chinese smoke everywhere and while it can be uncomfortably intrusive in an elevator. You can smoke like a chimney in any bar, pub, club or coffee shop in the country. This is wonderful and explains why Shenzhen has a thriving expat pub scene full of happy people, unlike the UK which was ruined by the smoking ban. There was a brief hiatus in this freedom during the Universiade Games when the city was pretending to behave like the rest of the world. This was gleefully abandoned the day the games finished and ashtrays reappeared, as if by magic, in all the bars.
China’s domestic brews may not be the best, but beer here is cheap and plentiful. In my local “Muslim” (it’s a fast food chain – and not entirely authentic regarding Islamic culture, obviously) restaurant I can get a beer for 50 pence, and yes that’s a pint of beer. In the off-licence (bottle shop) I can get one for 20 pence. Even the more expensive expat oriented bars offer a happy hour deal pretty much throughout the day ensuring you never need to spend more than a couple of quid on a pint.
5. Chinese people
En masse they often annoy the life out of me; our cultural divide is often too big to cross easily. But as individuals they are among the nicest folk on earth, curious, kind, witty, fun and simply smashing.
Chinese women are a complete delight with no “fashion culture” enslaving them into identikit clothing, each of them dresses uniquely and it makes them beautiful.