Day Twenty-One – Thursday, July 13
Off to Shenzhen!! This morning we arrived at BNUZ to take a city bus to the train station. From here, we caught two high speed trains to get to Shenzhen. We transferred at the Guangzhou train station, which is the largest train station in Asia! The inside was packed with people, shops, and restaurants, and being there was just a super cool experience. The trains were punctual, clean, and incredibly fast (300+ km/hr).
By 11:30 we had already arrived in Shenzhen! We stopped for lunch at a huge cafeteria in the train station, then headed to the metro to get to our hotel. The metro was just like how I remembered it in Taiwan, orderly, clean, and calm. This was far from my experience a couple of years ago on the Beijing subway, which promoted every man for himself!
The adventure for the day was supposed to be based on what we wanted to do and see in the city. We broke up into smaller groups of five people, and each had a program leader with us (we had Sihong). I honestly don’t think this was arranged well, as each person in the group wanted a different thing so in the end none of us ended up completely satisfied with our day. My group first went to the Shenzhen museum, which was kinda cool because it showed the rapid progression of the city (Shenzhen is only 35 years old!). However, we only spent a brief 45 minutes there before heading off to Book City, where we explored for about 1 hour. This is a two story “mall” that has a bunch of cute stores and restaurants. The main part of it is that there is a section for Chinese literature, art, and design books in the middle of the bottom floor. I really enjoyed exploring this area.
Next was when our group didn’t really know/couldn’t agree on what to do. We decided to just walk around the part of the city we were in (economic and semi-cultural hub) to see the architecture from a bunch of different angles. Since Sihong is from Shenzhen, she gave us a lot of insight on the buildings and construction. We walked past numerous bank and business headquarters, the huge stock exchange, Book City, City Hall, and tons of other interestingly designed buildings. Since a couple people really wanted to go to Ping An Finance tower, the third tallest building in the world, we took the hike over to it. In actuality, the building is pretty close, but it took us a while to find the underpass to cross the highway.
At the base, it was really breathtaking to see the tower. This building is 600m high, making it literally the tallest building I’ve ever seen. We couldn’t go up to the observation deck because construction wasn’t completed, but just admiring it from the bottom was amazing.After this experience, it was time to head back to book city for dinner. We walked for about a mile looking for the underpass before giving up and just running across the highway when there was a break in cars! Today was great to explore, but I was exhausted from the heat (felt like 110°) and walking.
After dinner, we met back up as a group to climb up this “mountain” to get a beautiful view of Shenzhen at night. While it looked like a small hill throughout the day, after all the walking we’ve done it is begun to feel more like a mountain. We climbed an uncountable number of steps before reaching the top, sweaty and exhausted. At the end of the day, my phone registered that I’d walked 12.5 miles and climbed 41 flights of stairs (honestly pretty accurate). But for me at least, the view was more than worth it. Our Chinese coordinators were also really thoughtful and carried up two birthday cakes, one for Zack and one of Maggie. This was a great conclusion to a long day!