amw (amw) wrote,
amw
amw

last days in Shenzhen

Saturday i headed out to get my hair done. On the way home i stopped at a Hunan place i never went to before and asked for 芹菜香干炒肉 - celery, tofu, meat. I asked to make it extra spicy and hold the meat, because i don't eat meat. She asked if i could eat garlic, which is a weird question, but whatever.



5 minutes later a dish of 蒜蓉空心菜 (garlic ong choy) comes out.

It's so frustrating when people don't listen to what you're saying, or they just assume what you want, or that you don't know any better. Clearly the only thing she paid attention to was "i don't eat meat" and not my original fucking order. I haven't experienced too much of this in China (bad service usually happens in more expensive restaurants), but the last week i seem to be hitting up against the worst of it.

After the meal (which was fine, once it arrived) i headed back home and crashed. I wanted to try clean the place, but i was done. I woke up to the building management taking someone through for a viewing. Serves me right for falling asleep with my front door open i suppose. It's always a bit awkward to have people come through your place while you're still living there, but such is the life of a renter.

Sunday morning i packed my stuff, did a bit of cleaning, then lugged my backpack to a hotel near the station where the bullet train to Chengdu departs. I was hoping to be able to fit everything into just the backpack, but all of the paperwork that i had to lug over for my visa (and the even more paperwork i amassed living here) is now a significant chunk of my pack. So i'm doing the whole backpack on the back and frontpack on the front thing that usually makes me think "those idiots packed too much". Now i am the idiot.

The clerk told me i couldn't check in without a nucleic acid test (for corona). Come again? I showed her my green rating from the Shenzhen corona check app. I said i live in Shenzhen, literally just 3 subway stops away. "Well i can't check you in without the test result." This is some fucking Guangzhou level racist bullshit. I kept at it, and showed her the last stamp in my passport which proves i haven't left China since the lockdown. "Oh well, i guess, then."

I have stayed at 7 Days Inns all over China and i never have any trouble because they are a no frills no questions type place. Of course they take my photo and copy my passport and file a report with the police every day, as all hotels in China that accept foreigners must do, but for the most part they don't make a fuss. Normally check-in takes a couple minutes, and that's the way i like it.

It pissed me off that just because i am a foreigner the clerk assumed i had the coronavirus, and then put it on me to prove that i didn't. This is what happens when you have an authoritarian government that can never accept responsibility for their actions. They vaguely blame "foreign forces" for every bad thing that happens in their country, and leave foreign residents to cop the fallout. Right now, foreigners are to blame for corona, for the busted economy, for "meddling" in Hong Kong (!?) and God knows what else.

Anyway, after cooling off, i looped back to my house to do a bit more cleaning and hand over my keycard. I picked up a train ticket on the way back, then headed out to dinner in the urban village by the hotel. This is one of the urban villages i cycled past on my trip to Dongguan a couple months ago. Back then it was still locked down hard. The whole neighborhood is still fenced off, but now they are letting people in with just a temperature check. I found a Hunan place in a back alley and - because my stomach is still upset from that (literally) shitty noodle on Thursday - ordered something plain: 老干妈土豆片 Lao Gan Ma potato slices.



The two topless guys in the background were sharing a smoke and a beer after finishing their meal of potato and greens. The person on the left was just having greens. It was nice to sit at a restaurant where most people ordered veg, even though well over half the menu included meat.

This is the weird disconnect when you talk to middle class Chinese - they are flabbergasted anyone could ever manage to eat veg in China. And yet, here in a restaurant filled with migrant laborers having dinner, it's not weird at all to have a meal without meat. I'm sure they wouldn't say no to a meat dish, but veg dishes are cheaper and just as tasty. They know the bulk of the meal is rice anyway.

Biggest fucking bullshit of Rich China, by the way: restaurants charge you for fucking rice. Even in the most hole-in-the-wall, cheapskate, greasiest spoons of Poor China, rice is free and all-you-can-eat. Rich China? No way, you pay for every miserly bowl.

I fucking hate Rich China.

I got a tongsui for dessert - turtle jelly and coconut juice.

-o-

Monday morning i made coffee. Oh yeah, the other reason my bag overflowed - i am bringing my French press and 1 kilo of Yunnan coffee with. I learned from previous trips that finding coffee in the morning in China sucks balls, and now that delivery people cannot come upstairs to your room (fuck you very much, corona), i am going to need another option. It will probably also help for the first few days of BC quarantine while i figure shit out.

After coffee, i hit the bank, where i sat around for another hour or two trying to get my last couple months of salary transferred over to Canada. Then i ducked into a public bathroom, switched my jeans for shorts, and got on a share bike to Yangtai mountain.

Last day in Shenzhen, y'all. There are many mountains i love in Shenzhen, but Yangtai is my fave because it is still (partially) rural and it's also where i went after my mom passed away.

It was noon and a very hot, clear day. Nobody was on the mountain because what crazy motherfucker would do such a thing?



This crazy motherfucker! That's a photo about 3.5 hours into the hike, which i took very slowly to avoid heatstroke. I had 2 small bottles of water, 1 small bottle of honey green tea, 1 big flask of water and 2 plums.

I could not have asked for a better day. From my favorite viewpoint i could see all the way out to Hong Kong and even - i think - over the Pearl River.



I walked through the lychee groves. I posed in front of a banana tree for a selfie. I scrambled up on hands and knees. I busted my shin open. I took my top off!

Friends, a woman taking their top off in China is not a Done Thing. I wouldn't think twice about it on top of a mountain in western Europe. I might think twice in North America, but then i'd probably do it anyway. Here i have never been game to try. Men in China go topless all the time, but women rarely even show a cleavage. So, two hours into a hike where i had still not seen a single soul, it was time to let the girls free. Well, not really free because fucking bra. But you know. The wind on my chest felt good.

A bit later on there was a guy with a pair of mules. My shirt was back on by that point.



It was the best.

I popped out in the industrial area by the dam and stopped in to the neighboring urban village for 酱香饼 (spicy spring onion pancake) and 凉粉 (jelly-type stuff). The 凉粉 came with peanut and red bean and raisin and watermelon and hawthorn and pearl sago and oh my!



If only i could've teleported back to my room, the evening would have been grand.

Alas, i had another annoying interaction with the hotel clerk who decided to charge me a 30元 "cleaning fee" because some of my hair dye rubbed off on the pillow case. I said i didn't want to pay by scanning her personal QR code and told her to ring it up on the hotel system and give me a receipt. Which she did. So if she was scamming me, at least someone has to pay tax on the scam.

I am the kind of person who makes my bed in my hotel room, who folds the towels and wipes down the surfaces before i go. I keep hotel rooms far cleaner than my own home, so this smarts. Especially after the racist shit the clerk pulled when checking me in, i feel like she was just waiting to have housekeeping go through all my stuff and ding me on anything they could possibly come up with.

I really hope that when i leave Shenzhen i also leave this shit behind me. In smaller towns - just like everywhere else in the world - there are generally more racists. But also in smaller towns of China, there is less of a stick up people's asses, so they might be less inclined to pull some xenophobic nonsense just for the sake of toeing the party line.

We'll see. Tomorrow morning i need to get up bright and early for the train to Chengdu. I only booked a ticket as far as Guiyang, which is the place in China i most enjoyed the street food. I think the flooding in Guizhou province is further north near the border with Chongqing, so hopefully there will be at least one dry night where the streets are thick with the choking smoke of burnt chilis.
Tags: china, food, travel
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