• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Touring the Chinese mainland city of Shenzhen


I had mixed feelings of excitement, paranoia, and nervousness when I got a call from a PR agency informing me of plans being made for myself and three other journalists from Nigeria to go to Shenzhen, China for a press conference sponsored by Huawei Technology Company.

China was the least expected travel destination on my ‘places to go list’ but I was excited all the same, because I was going to experience something entirely new in a far away land, somewhere in the continent of Asia. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been there before. Could language be a barrier? I thought to myself. A whole week? How would I cope without Eba and okra soup? Would Chinese fried rice grow on my head? (I thought that would be the only thing I would be able to eat. Usually I do not experiment with my tummy and wouldn’t like to get sick in China).

Of course the thought of the long journey, jet lag, time difference set in when I got my flight itinerary. I had to sit on the flight from Lagos to Dubai for 7.35 hours and wait in transit for almost 4 long hours, before boarding another 8 hours flight from Dubai to Guangzhou and wait for it…. We then had to take a two and a half hour shuttle drive from Guangzhou to Shenzhen, the technology hub of China where we stayed for a whole week. However, it was quite easy to forget the 22 hours journey when we met with other journalists from Sub-Saharan Africa. We were all taken to the Huawei Campus, which was like a mini city.
You should have seen the fascination in my eyes during the tour of the Huawei head office, where we were shown the technological advancement of the world. Our host demonstrated the rapid growth of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, showing us all sorts of connected devices used for smart tracking where your bicycle, luggage, pet and other things could be fitted with technology to track its location with your mobile phone. We were also shown devices for smart planting, taking agriculture to the next level by tracking temperature, soil and climate conditions with your Smartphone device. We were able to communicate from smartphone to TV with a camera on top of a smart TV for video calling, connecting people through things. Already, there are 1.5 billion connections on smart cars around the world where people are able to control features in their vehicles by connecting with their Smartphone device. Let’s leave all the talk about techie stuff and focus on the more interesting part of being a tourist in the Chinese Mainland City of Shenzhen.

Where to eat

I wouldn’t call myself a foodie, but my most memorable experience from this trip was the food! My oh my! Did you just ask if we were fed well??…I leave the answer to your imagination. The first night we were taken to a restaurant called Haidi lao hot pot, to have real Chinese hot pot food. This is where different types of meat, pork, shrimps, vegetables, bamboo shoots, noodles and all sorts are brought to your table and you have to cook it yourself in a hot pot in the middle of your table and mix in your spices however you like it. That was fun for people like me who had to have really spicy food. I didn’t have to share so of course I had my different types of chilli peppers, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil to mix into my food which I really enjoyed, I tried to use chop sticks but I just couldn’t get a hang of it. Shame on me.

Fortunately for us, we had great hosts that told us to try out other types of food on the other days, contrary to my fears of Chinese fried rice growing on my head. I had Turkish mixed grill with humus and pita bread at a really nice Turkish restaurant not very far from the Shenzhen elite experimental secondary school. On the third day, we had Italian food and I settled for a good old frankfurter mozzarella pizza. I also had their sea food linguine on another day which was awesome. Of course there are basic fast food restaurants like McDonlad’s and KFC if you don’t feel like eating fancy meals. Lucky for me, there was a McDonald’s restaurant right across the street from my hotel for days when I felt like eating just a random burger.

Places to visit in Shenzhen

Yes, Shenzhen is home to a lot of Chinese technology companies but there are some exciting, fun places to visit. The ‘window of the world’ is a must visit. This fantastic replica park has miniature versions of the world’s wonders, historical heritages and famous scenic sites. We saw replicas of Mahamuni Pagoda of Mandalay and the Angkor Wat of Cambodia here, the Eiffel Tower, the Ancient Athens, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Tower of London, Pyramids and the Sphinx, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon and in the replica of Manhattan we saw rows of towering skyscrapers. We also got to see a group of Chinese men practicing their kungfu moves in the park. Anyone planning to visit Shenzhen should also go to DongMen shopping street in Guangdong to get good bargain on clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and all sorts. Known as the major shopping area, DongMen market sells mainly Chinese made goods.

The Shenzhen safari park is totally amazing. My visit to the first zoo in China to uncaged animals, with green mountains to the north as its barrier, with more than 300 kinds of wild animals, in total 10,000 from all over the earth was breathtaking. I finally got to see a real Panda for the first time in my life; however I was disappointed that the Panda could not fight Kongfu…Lol. There were so many rare animals such as Asian elephants, Siberian tigers, golden monkeys, China tigers, zebras and more.

Meridian view centre Shenzhen is another must visit. Located on the 69th floor of the Diwang Mansion (Shun Hing Square), with a height of about 384 meters (1,260 feet), this building is the second highest one in Shenzhen and can be divided into three parts: the Office Area, the Shopping Area and the Business Apartments. Standing on the topmost floor, you can have a bird’s eye view of Shenzhen and Hong Kong through the telescopes. The appealing panoramic cityscape of Hong Kong which is only about 17km away from Shenzhen can be seen clearly from the top of the building.