Farewell vacation, you were dearly loved.
This trip really does seem to be about the beer and art. For my second day in Shenzhen, I started off at Lianhua park, took a hike up to get a view of the city (see below) and then went to the Shenzhen museum. Both of these locations featured replicas of Deng Xiaoping, which initially struck me as odd as the man was from Chongqing (a decent ways to northwest) until I remembered about the reform and opening up. 改革开放 (gaige kaifang, guy guh kai fahng), literally reform and opening up, was a policy pioneered by Deng in the late 70’s and was responsible for China rejoining the rest of the world. As a part of that policy, Shenzhen, at the time a sleepy little village of almost negligible import, was dubbed a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which meant it was the only city foreign goods and companies could enter China through at the time. This has resulted in Shenzhen’s economy, population, and size exploding over the past 35 years into the giant it is today, and therefore the city likes to credit Deng with their current success. The rest of the museum was cool, but nothing to write home about.
In the afternoon we took the subway out to Da Fen Oil Painting Village, which believe it or not is the source of 70% of the whole world’s oil painting reproductions. The shops here sell mass produced, hand drawn replicas of Van Goughs, other artists, and originals (or at one time originals, now reproduced a million times over). It’s a little crazy to watch. While they can’t hold a candle to the originals, the replicas still take a lot of skill to produce, and the artists here work with only a cell phone picture for reference. We also stumbled upon a random art museum that was interesting if a little lacking in substance.
Following that, my friend was craving coffee, so we got lattes at China’s first McDonalds (in Shenzhen due to its status as an SEZ I imagine), chewed the fat for a good while, and then hit up the last craft brewery of the trip, Crafthead, which had two ciders, a ginger beer (quite good) and a nice wheat which was my beverage of choice. We stumbled to the subway (even one beer is a lot on an empty stomach haha) and had some tasty spicy veggie soup, a meal I haven’t had in a long long time and sorely missed.
The beer in general in Shenzhen seems to be a lot sweeter than I’m typically used to (which is great, cus I love my beer sweet). I’m not quite sure why this is, as domestic Chinese beer is pretty weak lager so I can’t imagine it’s out of an attempt to attract the local palate. Maybe people with sweet teeth are drawn to the south of China. I’ll have to ask and/or continue testing in Xi’an.
Last day we chilled for the morning, I did some much needed work (although still not all of it) and then took the train down to Hong Kong. On the way in we stopped in Sha Tin to see the 10,000 Buddha’s monastery, which was pretty unique, as you’ll see. Small little monastery with a bunch of life-size golden Buddha statues lining the path. Not terribly lifelike, but cool nonetheless.
Went back to the city and found some egg tarts (finally). They’re technically a Macanese specialty, but seeing as I didn’t make it over there Hong Kong was the next best option. We found the Tai Cheong bakery, and oh my god, they deserve the reputation of best tarts on the island. the crust was substantial, crumbly but not flaky, and full of sweet buttery goodness. The filling was more eggy than sweet, just about right, and filled your moth with a warm sense of fulfillment. Did some walking around Sheung Wan (again), popped into some cool art galleries, then got beers on the waterfront from this place called The Beer Bay that specializes in English imports. Then my friend took me out to Lan Kwai Fong, the bar district that was packed with people (almost exclusively expats) on account of the rugby game that night. Had a blast people-watching, came home, and am now packing to go back to Xi’an. This trip was amazing and I don’t really want to go back, but I suppose it’s time to face the real world. Goodbye Hong Kong, you were great.