Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day in Shen Zhen

Boxing Day was a beautifully fine and clear day. We decided to go across the border, and left home before 8 am. Since we had plenty of time, we ambled around some byways - sort of looking for ox tongues, but not finding a suitable shop.

A trip to Wal-Mart scored some eatables, with Eddie getting riled when presented with 'dirty money' change. Chinese notes are usually tatty and grubby , particularly the lower denominations, and certainly the worst ones are not pleasant to handle. (The shop assistants look at crisp new notes suspiciously.) He made rather a fuss, but didn't really get his point across - I noticed everyone looking non-plussed rather than concerned or interested.

Leaving Wal-Mart, we walked on to Eastgate and visited Park'n'Shop (here we got coins for change which could not be complained about). We stocked up on provisions for lunch, and even got 12 eggs for Y 8.60.

Laden, we walked up to Litchi Park, passing the Uighurs with their special bread. We enjoyed a freshly heated flat one sprinkled with sesame seeds with between us.

Litchi Park can be bustling with groups dancing, singing and playing various instruments, both Western and Chinese. This time, however, there weren't many around - we came across a group of dancing students, and 2 girls batting a shuttlecock around and other walkers. A writer in water of poems had left faint traces of his calligraphy along the path. We stopped to watch a bride being photographed (the trend this year is to have the bride lie on the ground amid a flounce of lace and tulle and have the groom lean over her) and finally fetched up at the toilets by the cat's tail tree where the old men were playing chess and cards to an audience.
There we ate our lunch of bread and water, finishing with an ice-block from the nearby store.

We continued to walk around the park, and happened to start chatting to a man who, born in China, had spent many years in Singapore advising the government there. He had retired to Shen Zhen, where he continued to give advice and said he was responsible for much of the upgrade to the old city, including wider roads and footpaths.

Nearer the west gate we came across bridal parties having their photo sessions. Eddie was keen to add to his collection of 'bridal underwear' so we hung around while the subjects were arranged in fetching poses in various locations. The brides all seem to wear jeans and sneakers or other street clothes under their frothy white dresses, and the grooms wander around looking ill-at-ease in white suits of varying styles, carrying the brides' stuff. It seems that the tradition is to have the photos taken long before the actual wedding, and the process can take a very long time with changes of location and clothes involved.

My sciatica and sore muscles were causing me difficulty, so we decided to come home - in fact we didn't get into the house till 4.30 and queues at immigration were long, so it was a wise decision. We put on a DVD and promptly went to sleep after a strenuous day.

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