Crouching Tiger, Blatant Bok Choy
Upon its return to the mainland Chinese government, Hong Kong became a special administrative zone. Entry rules are a little more lax (for foreigners at any rate). For instance, a US citizen can enter Hong Kong without a visa as it maintains participation in the visa waiver program, but, a visa is required to enter Shenzhen from Hong Kong. I had no problems at passport control, but the customs offical came scrambling out of her office when the two boxes containing all of my gear (see the log entry of April 23, 2002 - What Have I Forgotten ?, further below) went throught the security X-ray. I wasn't able to see the scanner's screen, but obviously there was a wealth of REALLY WEIRD STUFF that SHE had never seen before.
Since I could comprehend none of the torrent of Chinese being directed at me, I was fully prepared to go through the pain of having both meticulously packed boxes rudely opened, and their contents put to the most thorough scrutiny, resulting in a highlighted note of "possible subversive" entered into my immigration file. Fortunately, our Chinese host came to my rescue, and after a protracted exchange, I was let through unscathed. Nonetheless, the expression on her face made it clear she didn't believe for a millisecond that I was actually going to ride a motorcycle through her Middle Kingdom.
Like many of the emerging supercities in China, Shenzhen shows a jarringly modern face to the casual observer. Rather than uploading cityscapes that you can see from any postcard, I include two pictures of ....... vegetables. The first is a stunning example of what one can do with a giant carrot, a good knife, and a lot of time:
[I'm proud to present, Crouching Tiger.]
And, continuing the pun on the popular Chinese movie, may I also present:
[Blatant Bok Choy.]
At first, I couldn't fathom what a monster"statue" of a common member of the lettuce (cabbage?) family was doing resting on its side in the middle of a small park. Then, I noticed that it stood proudly in front of the Shenzhen Buji Agricultural Products Central Wholesale Market - apparently the largest of its kind in China (the market, that is, I suspect the same is true for the bok choy). It all makes a weird kind of sense. The thing is huge though - you can barely make out part of a freight truck in the background to get a scale of its size.
And, today's parting thought - in the hotel mini-bar, a 300ml bottle of Evian mineral water is RMB28 (RMB 8 = USD 1.00), a 300ml can of Tsingtao Beer is RMB20. Brushing your teeth with Tsintao's finest will be a great way to wake-up in the morning, and save some RMB to boot!
Posted by Mike Paull at May 04, 2002 06:26 PM GMT