Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Now Back to China

On my last full day in Shenzhen I really didn't feel like going out.
Shopping and eating, eating and shopping... that is all there seems to
be to this city. I even asked the stylist who was doing my hair if
there were going to be any public New Year celebrations. She said
nothing public was planned for the city. Well, darn! Still, there is
one temporary walking street I have been meaning to investigate, may
as well go there. Not really up to it, but may as well, just to have
something to do.

While waiting for bus 306 I was compelled by my bladder to absent
myself from the bus station for just a few moments. When I came back
bus 97 was loading. Its destination advertised Huang Bei Ling Village,
one of the few tourist 'must see' destinations listed in Lonely
Planet. Because my plan was to venture to that walking street I passed
on the chance to board this bus, but then thought better of it, but
then decided to leave it up to fate: whichever bus materializes first
- another 97 or the one I originally intended to take, 306, would be
the day's destination. My money was on 306 as it travels fairly often.
In fact, in all my time in Shenzhen I hadn't seen bus 97, even though
I had been at that stop nearly every day.

Apparently I was meant to head to the village. 97 preceded 306 but
they both pulled up to the station at the same time.

There really wasn't very much to this village. It did indeed have a
village-y feel: lots of alleys off the main road, which in itself is a
misnomer, being a narrow, two-lane, winding road. Traffic on this
narrow road was further impeded by fruit vendor stalls extending into
the road and pedestrians ambling along because the sidewalk was
impassable. And, this road is only about 3km long. All too soon the
bus arrived at the end stop. All passengers debarked.

Was this really all there was to it? After the positive write up in
Lonely Planet I expected more. After all, that tour guide manual does
not glow about much with regard to Shenzhen; that this village got a
positive review led me to anticipate more than there perhaps actually

Instead of immediately boarding the bus again, I decided to walk down
a few stops. Logic, reason and experience dictate that pretty much all
there is to see you can see from a slow moving bus window, but in this
case I was wrong. Scanning the roof lines I spied what appeared to be
the remnants of a temple, and two older buildings. I tried to gain
access to them, or at least to the larger temple like building, but
the gate was locked on one side and access was blocked on the other.
Through the fence I could see that it was newly decorated for the
upcoming festival. I asked the policeman guarding that access what
that building was. He told me that it was indeed formerly a temple. He
went on to assert that it was closed till tomorrow, the actual New
Year day. Too bad! I would be gone tomorrow. I guess I won't have the
chance to see inside it, but I did take some nice pictures of the
roofline and what I could see of it through the fence.

I wished him Happy New Year and moved on. In spite of the village
feeling I got at first, signs of modern intruded: a child with a
McDonald's bag, a whole plaza dedicated to Walmart and again:
shopping, shopping and more shopping. Sigh! I got back on the bus
headed back to the hotel. I never did make it to that temporary
walking steet. All it seemed to have was stuff for New Year anyway:
couplets, gifts, and decorations. I could to Walmart to see that!

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