Toward the end of January, about a month after they were first notified of the outbreak in Wuhan, the Chinese government started locking down cities to control the spread of the new coronavirus. They started with lockdowns mostly in Hubei province, but by February almost the whole country was locked down. In Shenzhen people were still allowed to leave their homes, but the only businesses allowed to open were grocery stores, pharmacies, wet markets and a handful of small restaurants. Most people just stayed at home and ordered in.
The hard lockdown continued till March, when businesses slowly started reopening. Last week the government dropped the mandatory face mask and temperature check regulations and allowed all workplaces to reopen. The city is gradually getting back to normal.
Here is my April 1st.
I wake up and scroll through LJ to find a post by our mod reminding me to take pics. Great work! I would never have remembered otherwise.
For breakfast i slice up a guava and sprinkle five-spice on top.
View from my window. On a clear day you can see a mountain in the distance, but now it's just fog.
Up until about 10 days ago, the sidewalk outside my apartment was fenced in. I could not cross the road or get to the bus stop - i had to walk for about a kilometer through the village and leave through a designated checkpoint. Now they have removed fences so i can just jump on a share bike as soon as i leave my building.
Just kidding! They haven't removed the fences. What they did was move the fences so that certain buildings on the edge of the village (like mine) are no longer fenced in, but the alleyways in between those buildings are still blocked off. That means a whole neighborhood of about 0.25km² with apartments, restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores, hair salons etc is cut off - only residents who can show the special travel pass are allowed inside. There are hundreds of these urban villages in Shenzhen and they are now all cut off from one another. Deliveries are being passed over the fences or left in huge piles by the checkpoints. I have to walk all the way around to the checkpoint and back to visit shops that are normally right beside my building.
Last year they finally finished building the greenway that leads from my part of town into work, so it's a blissful commute. But for some reason yesterday they decided to close part of the greenway again so they can build a bridge over the river. Time for a detour...
Action selfie riding through the detour.
Look, it's Hong Kong! Just across the bay, hiding in the mist, that's Hong Kong.
Taking the elevator up to my work, the building management put social distancing squares on the floor.
Getting changed into work clothes after the ~50 minute bike ride, my mask snapped. I have been wearing the same one for a week or two. A lot of people keep wearing the same mask until it breaks because it is too expensive to wear multiple each day. To be honest i don't think masks are very useful unless you are actually sick, but i switched to my backup bandana to make my colleagues feel safe. Still only about a third of the office is back. A lot of people are under mandatory quarantine, or they have kids to look after, or they are just scared to leave their homes.
The best thing about my office is they have an espresso machine.
Lunch time, i grab another share bike and head away from the rich part of town, where there are no local residents and no good restaurants, only shiny office buildings and empty condos. On the right you can see a school - still closed.
I settle into my favorite kind of little restaurant, and spot a nurse sitting down to eat his lunch too.
武汉热干面 (Wǔhàn règānmiàn) Wuhan hot dry noodle. This is a popular peanut sesame spicy noodle with pickle on the top. Simple and delicious.
After finishing my day at work, i head home, biking through the chaos of taxis and gig economy drivers picking up overpaid office workers who are afraid to take the subway. The yellow moped is a food delivery guy, the true heroes of these times, keeping everyone fed.
Heading back to my neighborhood the roads are definitely quieter than normal, but that's nice.
I stop in at the food vendor downstairs from my house. He makes 锅盔 (guōkuī), which is something like a roti bread, cooked on the wall of a tandoor oven. He only reopened last weekend, after being closed for 9-10 weeks. I was really worried he'd never be back.
Preparing dinner - 素鸡 (sùjī) vegetarian chicken and napa cabbage.
I slice the 素鸡 into hotdogs and cook the cabbage with a spicy BBQ flavor.
There is only one piece of furniture in my apartment, and that is my bed. I eat there, i sleep there, and for about 7 weeks of lockdown, i worked there too.
I eat dinner and watch Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah do their monologs.
Now i am sitting here to post this.
After i post i will crack another beer and watch a full length show, maybe Better Call Saul, and then it's lights out to do it all over again tomorrow.
Happy April, everyone. If you are just starting your lockdown, hang in. For me it was extremely tough going, but eventually things started to improve. China is still not doing great, but it's doing a whole lot better than 2 months ago.