Oranges, sugarcane and coconuts were a few of the many wares—edible and non—available along the mainland China coast across the water from Hong Kong. We couldn’t actually see Hong Kong, of course; too smoggy. This former fishing village was in the 1970s turned into the first Special Economic Zone in China, which means Chinese people can move there just because they feel like it. So poor people needing jobs flooded here from all over China to work their way up. Factories popped up; the population boomed. This is the city to get rich quick–and young. Also, it’s the location of the first Chinese Wal-Mart. This was an experiment into socialized Chinese capitalism, started here thanks to its proximity to thriving Hong Kong. But even though Hong Kong is Chinese now, mainland Chinese people living in Shenzhen have to fill out an extensive application to get even a short visa to Hong Kong. Hong Kong-ers, on the other hand, need only their IDs to get in and out. This is to prevent Hong Kong from being inundated with people more than it already is. Before the turnover to China, when a Shenzhen man wanted to get married, his prospective bride’s family would ask, “Are you a good swimmer?” meaning, “Can you make it to Hong Kong and provide a better life for our daughter?” This may or may not be true, but supposedly after the wedding the man would set off into the sea on a one-year deadline to prove his success in HK or risk his bride becoming a widow and marrying again. The vast majority of the time the year deadline passed with no word. Or so the story goes. Then we went to Shenzhen’s #1 tourist attraction: The Chinese Folk Culture Village. It was a little Disney-ish, and our guide kept leading us into these awful traps where we’d be walking along and all of a sudden “10 Seconds Ok Man” (it was on his sign) would ambush us and cut a paper profile of someone in 10 seconds or less…ish…then shout, “OK!” This went on for several people until a girl walked around demanding money. Chris and I gave our profiles back.
Look at all our tour stickers (four each). It reminded me of that scene in a Very Brady Sequel where Mrs. Brady escapes from Roy the imposter and makes her way to Dr. Whitehouse’s mansion where he says, “Did you lose your way from your tour group?” ha ha, Mrs. Brady.