When I first arrived in Shenzhen I was struck by how well-established most of the expat crowd here appeared to be. The community was thriving and the old hands were always available to help give the new arrivals a bit of a steer in the right direction. In the last few months I’ve been noticing how many familiar faces have been disappearing and being replaced with what can charitably be described as a bunch of idiots.
Shamefully the vast majority of these people appear to be from the British isles. It appears they had a closing down sale of ex-cons and heroin addicts and Shenzhen obviously queued all night to take advantage of this.
I’ve long come to expect the expatriate community everywhere to be made up of slightly socially dysfunctional folk. I think that’s because living away from your own culture takes a certain toll on your mental health after awhile. It certainly has on mine. Where once I was generally happy I am now generally glum – and worse I’ve become a 100% moaning bar steward.
But here that was always within the realms of “normal for a hardship posting expat destination” and it’s not any more.
The faux-Irish bar in Futian, McCauley’s, is a great example of this. It used to be a little on the expensive side for China, but it compensated with decent beer and good food. It wasn’t ever really heaving, but it wasn’t every really empty either. Now the management (formerly a polite if ineffectual Irish lad) has been replaced with a guy who seems to want to befriend every scum-bag in town.
The corner table that used to be a nice place, to reap the benefits of air-conditioning and sunlight coming through the door, is permanently packed with wasted looking tattooed louts. (Please note – I have tattoos but I didn’t get mine from a dyslexic cell mate called Benny). Indian Ink and razor blades don’t make for great works of art in my experience.
They’re all in their mid-40’s or above and appear to never have eaten a decent meal in their lives. And yes they’re all here to “teach” English. This is amazing as casual conversation with any of their number quickly reveals that they are inveterate alcoholics, with recovery issues from other substances, who’ve never read a book in their lives.
This is genuinely bad news, since Xpats banned smoking the number of Western-oriented places to go to at this end of town has dwindled to three. One, Rapscallions is outrageously expensive compared to other bars – and though it’s a very pleasant venue in the Summer, its mainly outdoor seating is of very little use in the Winter. The second, La Casa, is OK during the day but at night it’s wedged between two nightclubs competing on volume and it’s not a place any sane person would hang out – I guess that’s why it also attracts a substantial number of English teachers. And then there’s McCauley’s where the food is now appalling, the beer is cheap but poisonous and the clientèle are genuinely awful.
The other reason it’s bad news is that as the misbehaviour and obnoxiousness rises; (last time I was there I saw an expat screaming at a local for daring to sit at an empty table that the expat had decided was his) behaviour like this means there’s a much higher chance that Shenzhen will start cracking down on all foreign visitors.