Māyhèm in Shēnzhèn

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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What I did
Dongmen Food Street
International Tea Expo at the Shenzhen Convention Centre

Flag of China  , 广东省,
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chillin' in 
Shēnzhn  深圳 weather in December is divine! Judging by ever-present aircon units hanging all all the buildings, we know spring-like weather here is not always the case. And it much cheaper to live in Shenzhen than in Hong Kong. We decided to wait here for three days or so for a package of prescription and non-prescription items to be Fed-Ex'd to us from the USA. We checked back into the Loft and upgraded to a deluxe room for about two dollars more. The Loft caters to young Chinese backpacker types looking for ten dollar dorm beds and it is a great place for that. But there is a steady flow of foreigners too.

There was a young Canadian who studies Chinese somewhere in southwest China where it was cold. So he was waiting here in the mild Shenzhen weather for a few weeks until his new term starts in January. He seemed like an oafish introvert who focused on his lap top video games pretty much all the time. But when the young Chinese ladies were hanging around, he transformed into a suave flirt. And then there was the scruffy beard guy wearing dark sunglasses and a hoodie sweatshirt. We didn't see him without his hood and sunglasses (inside) and of course we dubbed him the uni-bomber. And then there was a Panamanian guy who was AWOL from the US Navy.  It seems the Navy figured that if he had a Social Security Number, he was good enough to recruit. But he was in the US on a temporary work permit. After a tour of duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom he was back in San Diego when the MP's came for him. He said he had been given several commendations but instead of waiting for a hearing, he took a walk a few months short of his normal discharge time. He walked away from his savings and GI Bill benefits (subsidized college expenses). He went to Korea and enrolled in a University then went to Shanghai and became a bartender. He just started a new job as a bartender in Shenzhen. He seems like a great guy and we figured it was too bad he went AWOL instead of facing the Navy's legal process. The last notable clients were a pair of businessmen from the US. I overheard them coordinating a manufacturing plant visit to a potential supplier. I didn't hear what they planned to have made, but if they were staying at our $28 per night hotel, they were on a shoestring budget. Last time I traveled to China on business, my expenses for a week were over $6000 (half of it airfare). They are probably doing the same trip for just over $1000 each. 

2011 China International Tea Exhibition in Shenzhen
We stumbled upon the giant International Trade and Exposition Centre in Shenzhen and discovered that it was the final day of the International Tea trade show targeted at wholesale buyers from around the world. We dropped in and were delighted to have a chance to sample top quality teas from all over China. We tried several types but there is only so much your bladder will allow you to sample. Prices of tea vary wildly and we got the chance to taste some of the most expensive. Michelle still targeted her favorite green tea varieties. There were tons of the Pu'er tea bricks too. We thought this was a type of black tea and would only later find out that Pu'er is type of green tea that is aged and turns dark as it is aged. Michelle  picked out a few ounces of green leaves and the price dropped dramatically as they tried to convince her to buy more. Again, we are carrying everything in our backpacks and can't really stock up on anything.


Dongmen Food Street (东门食街)
Dongmen is a shopping area near the Lao-jie metro exit. The first time we came, we were here to shop and didn't get to food street. This time, our goal was to find the semi-famous food area. We walked about a hundred yards from the metro exit, though a overcrowded pedestrian mall, and turned into the frenzy of the food court! I expected to find rows of unhygienic typical night market stalls and eateries and instead found something closer to food courts in malls at home. We sampled treats from three of the booths before finishing off with an ice cream cone from the adjacent McD's. Then we discovered the food area continued on on the second floor! Too late, we were full.

Waiting for the Fed-Ex Man 
On Monday, the parcel arrive in Guangzhou, a different province, and held in Customs. Fed-Ex had not collected the necessary documents before the package was shipped and asked us to write a letter to Chinese Customs. 
 We spoke and traded emails with various Chinese Fed-Ex staff with barely comprehensible English skills. At first, the paperwork requested sounded pretty straight forward and we submitted the letter and supporting documents. Then they requested receipts and Yolanda quickly emailed images to us. Next, Fed-Ex asked us to provide Chinese translation! Wow! We expected so much more of Fed-Ex. But in China, Fed-Ex sucks! They wouldn't guarantee it, but they said the might be able to forward the package to us in at our next destination in Yangshuo. They advised that we should not try to clear the package ourselves. 

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