Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen is the "new town" across the harbor from Hong Kong.  When Deng Xiaoping started his "open door" policy, China created five "free economics regions" allowing western ideas and capitalism as an experiment.  Shenzhen is one of these regions.  There was a major migration of countryside peasants/entrepreneurs who came here 30 years ago to try their luck.  The city has shot up to 14 million first-generation residents.  All the architecture is modern, and the city has banned motorcycles and 3-wheeled carts, so there is little similarity to Chengdu.  To encourage tourism, they have built a place called "Splendid China" and "Folk Culture Village".  The parks are side-by-side, and we first went into Splendid China, a beautiful park with miniature recreations of all the major sites in China.
Mini Potala Palace in Tibet

Mini Three Gorges

Mini LeShan Buddha

Mini Great Wall

Bronze temple bell

The Nine Dragons Wall from The Forbidden City
It was a truly beautiful park.
Love the sculpted trees!

Mini Mogao Grottoes 
We were especially excited to find Magnum Bars at the snack shops in this park.  They are the Chinese equivalent of Dove Bars or Haagen Daz, so the BYU Teachers are always on the lookout for them.  Usually, the Chinese "ice cream" is actually ice milk and they have flavors such as green tea and jujube date.  Yucko!  So whether we're hungry or not, if we find a place that sells Magnum Bars, we have to get one (or two)!  Can you tell we're deprived by our food choices here?  It's kindof psycho to plan your trip around an ice cream bar.  :)

The other half of the park is what our guide promised us would be "better than the Polynesian Cultural Center".  I think our group voted "nay", but there were several different "villages" you could walk through to see the living conditions, crafts, foods, religion, and even some local song and dances of various Chinese minorities.  

Dancers on stilts.
We went to the Tibetan one and the music was so loud we had to cover our ears, and it wasn't especially pleasing to listen to.  The dancers do their thing, but rarely smile about it.  We also went into the Tibetan Buddhist Temple. 

This guy has some MAJOR eyebrows!

This is Ekajati--would you like to worship her?

Part of the Tibetan minority dance--the long sleeves are fun.

We walked through the villages, but the costumed people were basically ignoring us, not really welcoming us like at the PCC.  Anyway, we saw some interesting sights.  

Ribbons are tied on trees for good luck.

I'd like to spend the night in THIS village!

One of the minorities had anatomically-correct wooden carved figures, male and female, because reproduction was an important part of their culture.  (I didn't take any photos of those!)  We did have some fun besides just wandering though the park.

Can you read the sign around the fence on the carousel?  "No Grossing!"

Kirk and our neighbor, Don, on a man-powered water wheel.


Bamboo Water Pipes

I'd heard about feeding the koi with a baby bottle in Chengdu, but never got over to that park yet.  So I was happy to try it here--it's a kick!

Bottle Feeding Fish

We went to see The Golden Spear Dynasty Horseback Battle, staged in a huge arena with loud music and scrawny horses.  They ran them hard and fast and looked menacing.  The stunts were really great, even if the dummies they threw over the wall into the moat looked pretty lame.

The next show we went to see was called "New Oriental Apparel".  It was indoors with a stage that had moving sections and a water feature.  The costumes were fabulous!  We felt like it was the best show we've seen in China so far.

The lady in green in front was a contortionist--boy could she bend and twist!

After the show we went to dinner and it was suspiciously similar to the lunch we had been served next door.  It was NOT our favorite, and frustrating because they don't serve napkins, drinks or serving spoons.  They just put everything (if you can guess what it is) on a lazy susan in the middle of the table and you pick out what you want with chopsticks as it goes by.  I need another Magnum Bar!

That evening was the big extravaganza called "Dragon and Phoenix Dance".  It actually looked more like all the ethnic shows combined into one with fog, strobe lights, contortionists, lasers, elaborate costumes, water, live horses, acrobats, fireworks, sheep, dancers, donkeys, aerial stunts, magicians, roller skates, and a cast of thousands.  Are you getting the idea this was a MEGA show?  It was presented in an outdoor stadium theater.  It was too over the top for my taste, and I still liked the earlier one better.  They did have a couple of slides in English to explain some of the scenes.

We laughed when we read "annoying" in the same sentence as "wedding"!

Cool dragons!

Huge people "puppets".

Laser light in fog with the Phoenix flying out!

 The fireworks are best in a video:

Shenzhen Show

And the grand finale!
 What a way to end our day in Shenzhen.  Next stop:  Hong Kong!

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