Shenzhen: 15-16 January 2014

7
I had a last-minute requirement to go to Shenzhen, China. I knew about it and made the arrangements for it only 1 day before flying. There weren't many choices of flights. There were only flights that were "business" timings, i.e. early morning flights out and the evening flights back. After all, nobody flies to Shenzhen from Singapore expect for work. I flew out by Shenzhen airlines and back by Silkair. I recalled how terrible the food was on my previous trip back from Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines and was glad to be able to book the return flight on Silkair.

15 Jan

I woke up at 5am. I didn't sleep much that night. The Changi airport was extremely cold. Or perhaps I was just hungry because I felt better after breakfast. I was grateful that the flight takeoff was not delayed so I touched down in Shenzhen at the expected time.

Fortunately, the weather in Shenzhen was mild (about 19 degrees) so I wouldn't need to bring any warm clothing. The moment I got through immigration, I could smell burning cigarette. People are allowed to smoke almost anywhere. I had to endure the toxic air while waiting for a taxi. When I got into the taxi and showed the driver the hotel name and address to Grand Hyatt, he asked me "Which one?"

It's silly that the confirmation slip did not contain the address in Chinese. Thankfully, I managed to guess the name of the road from the pinyin. Hotels should include the address in local language on the booking slip! If booking.com can do it, why can't a 5-star hotel website do the same?

The taxi ride to the city was about an hour. When I saw an LV store and Chopard banner at a posh-looking building beside the hotel, I knew I was staying at an expensive part of town.
Grand Hyatt>


The room was very nice. It has the same open concept bathroom which most hotels have nowadays. The toilet bowl is in a small cubicle with a frosted-glass door. The open concept might be nice to look at but I dislike it because the sounds (from the pipes and taps) from the other guests' bathrooms can easily be heard from the bed. The room is obviously not designed for women. There is no mirror in the room for putting on make up with some natural light. I would like to stay at one of those business hotels designed for women some day. This is not one of them. The rooms are also not sound proof. I was on the 15th floor but I could hear the horns from the cars along the road.

Grand Hyatt Shenzhen
Walk in waredrobe

I was changing my clothes in the hotel room when the door bell rang and the door opened. I jumped for cover behind the panel and said that I was there. The guy apologised and closed the door. After I'd put on my clothes, I opened the door to talk to him. He said that he was there to check the cleaning and he did not know that someone had checked in. I would think they would have a better system for checking such things!

I needed to fill my stomach so that I wouldn't faint during the meeting. I went for a quick lunch across the road in a building that didn't look so posh. The meeting was in the hotel. I was glad that I didn't have to commute elsewhere for it.

After the meeting, I went to Dong Men Pedestrian Street for shopping. It's a 25-min walk from the hotel. The weather was nice so the walk was pleasant. It wasn't difficult to find my way there with a map.
Underpass
Dogs along the street
Along the way, a man was walking his friendly pair of dogs and he seemed happy when I touched one of them. I like street food and there is plenty to choose from.
Hot buns
Peking Duck
Part of a mall full of shops selling food
It was reasonably crowded at Dong Men Pedestrian Street. Unfortunately, the goods here weren't as cheap as I had wished. Having found the fantastic website aliexpress.com, everything here seemed expensive. I could buy the same things on aliexpress.com at lower prices with free shipping. Perhaps the taxes and rental result in higher retail prices compared to online prices. I bought only 1 chair cushion for SGD6. This would have cost SGD15 online because it's expensive to ship a large item. I found this place disappointing but for the cheap street food.
Dong Men Pedestrian Street
>
I took the train back to the hotel. The nearest train station at Dong Men Pedestrian Street is Lao Jie Station. I would have to take the train 1 stop to Grand Theater station, 5 minutes from the hotel. The staff at Grand Theater pointed me to the wrong station exit so I ended up taking a long route to the hotel. This underpass looks eerie but it wasn't deserted. Anyway, I managed to get back to the hotel.


16 Jan

I did not sleep well because I could hear the traffic from inside the room. I woke up at about 8am - in time to be awake when my client called to inform me that she had left me a package of product samples.

The breakfast spread was very good. There's a view of the city from the restaurant but I did not find looking at building particularly enjoyable. I only discovered the western eggs section as I was leaving the breakfast area. Fortunately, I did not eat myself silly on the Chinese food so I could squeeze in a plate of eggs. It was exceptional!
View from restaurant

I was hoping to purchase a tablet and a handphone so I headed to Huaqiang Lu. It was easy getting there. From Grand Theater station (5 mins' from the hotel), I took the train to Huaqiang Lu station.
There's a street lined with electronic malls on both sides. A few malls look old and dingy. People would smoke in the malls. The dust and smoke made it an unpleasant shopping experience.
Huaqiang Lu
Eating and resting area

At the eating area, I saw a man pick up somebody else's half-eaten food. He then sat down to finish it.

To my disappointment, the prices were not low. I could easily find similar products at aliexpress.com at lower prices or with better specifications. The advantage of buying them here would be that I could test the items on the spot. I did not buy anything. Nothing was cheap enough for me to grab.
Tablets are not cheap
368 Yuan or USD60 for Single Core 1.6GHz 1GB RAM 8GB ROM Wifi

Here are prices of dual-core tablets on aliexpress.com.
Dual core tablet On aliexpress USD50
Dual core tablet On aliexpress USD60

Even housing isn't cheap. A 1 bedroom apartment with 51-year lease costs 950,000 Yuan (SGD200,000).

Shopping in Shenzhen was sooo disappointing. The most interesting item I saw there was this compact pram.
Compact pram


It was easy getting to the airport. There was some sort of a silent demonstration outside the airport. What was it about?
At the airport

The departure area looks almost like Singapore. Clean and organised.

The immigration officer almost didn't let me pass. He said that the photograph did not look like mine! It was only after I talked to him and smiled that he said commented that I was smiling in my passport photo but it doesn't look like me when I don't smile in real life. Perhaps I looked like a ghost after 2 nights of insufficient sleep. Thankfully, he let me through after I entertained him enough.

I flew back to Singapore by Silkair so the food inflight was acceptable. As always, I was glad to touch down in Singapore and get back to my cat and comfy bed!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHAT?! DEMONSTRATIONS ARE ALLOWED IN CHINA?!

CHINA HAS MORE FREEDOM THAN SINGAPORE?!

According to USA and all Western press, China has NO FREEDOM at all. You get locked up if you whisper anything they don't like.

YOUE BLOG HAS PROVED THAT ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE LIARS!!

David said...

Yu-Kym,

Most interesting short notice business trip. BTW what type of product samples did you see on this trip?

Surprised to read that the Grand Hyatt had such poor, or rather no, sound proofing! Construction standards must be quite different in the PRC. Even popular family and business suite hotels in the States are reasonalbly quiet. I have stayed on third and fourth floors and barely heard the traffic outside.

The bathrooms here are a mix of open concept and semi-open. However all hotels, Holiday Inn's, Marriot's and Sheraton's have a full legnths mirror and a large mirror with good lighting at the vanity. My wife has no problems getting ready for an evening out or other events.

The lack of communication of the hotel with it's staff was surprising and indicates either poor training of employees or lack of management interest in customer service.

The underground looked interesting as did the airport.

19C at the time of your visit! That's almost summer up here. Putting temps in perspective, it is -13C outside my window as I type this.

Looking forward to your next travel adventure!

Anonymous said...

Americans are hypocrites when it comes to FREEDOM when they accuse other countries are NOT FREE!

Consider this :-
Their constitution has an emphasis on personal freedom. Yet some of the signatories were slave owners. Clearly, they never intended their definition of liberty to extend that far. It seems it never even crossed their minds.

From our modern perspective, that is stunning ignorance and insensitivity.



David said...

Anon,

Correct stating that many signers of the United States Declaration of Independence were indeed slave owners.

During the 1600, 1700 and 1800s, owning slaves was a social norm. Rich land owners typcially owned many slaves to run multiple land holdings. Owning a slave was a normal then as owning a smartphone now. Many of the signers of my nations founding documents recognized slavery as morally bankrupt. The civil war in the States tore my nation apart for four dreadful years. Thousands of causcasians from the north sacrificed thier lives to re-unite the nation and bring an end to slavery.

Are you aware that around 27-30 nations harbor around 30 million people as slaves in 2014!

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/slavery-still-exists/262847/

For the last 28 years I have documented people in more than 100 countries on six continents. In 2009, at the Vancouver Peace Summit, I met a supporter of Free the Slaves, an NGO dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery; weeks later, I flew down to Los Angeles and met with the director of Free the Slaves; thus began my journey into exploring modern-day slavery.

Oddly, I'd been to most of the locations where I started photographing slavery many times before. I even considered some of them homes-away-from-home. But there can be dark corners in familiar places.

These are not images of "problems." They're images of people. There are 27 million slaves in the world today. A hundred and fifty years ago, an average agricultural slave cost over three times the average yearly wage of an American worker, about US$50,000 in today's money. Yet now, entire families can be enslaved for generations over a debt as small as $18. Slavery is illegal everywhere, but it exists all over the world.


The United States and Great Britian played pivotal roles in ending slavery through most of the world. The fact that slavery exist is so many places shows the evil and moral issues that plague many nations. Human trafficking is another form of enslaving others and is yet to be dealt with adequately.

David

Anonymous said...

What's with their bathrooms? All glass! no privacy

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with hyatt? No privacy! All glass doors

Lamist said...

Hello, I'm Singaporean too, going SZ in April. Chanced upon your review whilst doing my research :)

I see your post stated "It was reasonably crowded at Dong Men Pedestrian Street. Unfortunately, the goods here weren't as cheap as I had wished."

As I have understood from many other reviews saying Dong Men Street is the most valued for money place to shop; May I ask what kind of goods you are referring to? Clothing? Or products?

I'm looking to go there for some clothing/dresses shopping, hence would like to find out more, in case I get real disappointed .. Haha thank you! :)