Since D wanted to go to Shenzhen to buy his Chase-Durer watch from the China dealer, I decided to tag along & give Shenzhen another chance.
My first trip there was in 2005, after receiving my work visa, I had to leave HK and return with the immigration stamp on my visa so as to “activate” it. We took the KCR all the way to Lo Wu and the 30-45 minutes walking around the Lo Wu mall (the one nearest to the Lo Wu train station) gave me the creeps. There were so many touts, especially those from the dim sum restaurants who kept pestering us to patronise that restaurant. Generally I didn’t like the vibes, and each PRC person seemed to be a potential pickpocket. That particular mall didn’t seem to have stuff that I would be interested in, so it was kinda a waste of time, but it was something I had to do.
This time round, D did some research on the Shenzhen subway system in particular and also decided on a couple of places to go, namely to the Chase-Durer agent and the supposed big electronics mall. I just wanted to check out the huge Book City (, that is supposed to be the largest in the world.
Of course D and I left TJ at home with our helper. I wouldn’t want to take TJ there, especially since I had a bad experience the first time round, and moreover I am a paranoid person when it comes to places in China. Nothing against the country, I think it is a great country with such rich history that at times I do feel really proud that I am Chinese. But there are so much bad press about China, melamine in milk powder, SARS, kidnapped kids etc that seriously, I would feel safer that TJ is not on this recce trip with us.
We took awhile to find the Chase-Durer agent, but after walking in circles at Dongmen (alight at Lao Jie station), I was getting a bit confused with all the streets. Luckily I can read Chinese (D can’t) and it would have helped if the street names and roadside maps were in English too.
D has been eyeing this watch (more infomation here) for awhile now, and this would be his 2008 b’day present which I owed him since last year. Nowadays b’day and xmas pressies aren’t kept as top secret between us; we would tell one another what we actually want. If it is a wee bit too expensive, we would combine the various presents into this one item. Makes economical sense, and we know this is something that the other person wants, so it is practical too. I suppose after 7 years of marriage, and altogether 14 years of being together, the romantic spark is not really there but it is ok, I actually prefer to know what he really wants (and I suppose likewise for him) so that I don’t have to spend time guessing and worse, get the wrong gift. I must say, it is a very nice watch, I didn’t know about this watch until D told me about it. He is in his watch connosieur phase now, and got me thinking of getting the Tag Heuer Monaco Chrono or the Panerai Mariner or Luminor. Haiz. For now, we both like chunky watches with specific functions and given that money is limited, we do think hard about the timepieces that we purchase.
We reckon, our kids could choose which watch they want next time. 😉 Just like that Patek Philippe slogan, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe; you merely take care of it for the next generation“. So right now, our next generation has a choice between the IWC Aquatimer Chrono-Automatic and the Chase-Durer and many Swatches. 😉
Again, nothing against China, still I know I am in China when male folks around me, all dressed in suits and pants, are spitting indiscriminately on the streets, kerbs and everywhere. Worse, some of them would blow their noses by pressing one thumb or finger on each nostril to get rid of the mucus, which would dripped onto the ground. Damn gross lah, I had to make sure I don’t step onto puddles of I-don’t-know-what and definitely regretted wearing my open-toed Birkis. I can’t imagine what I would do if any of those spit/mucus globs land on my toes. Ewww.
And one thing I realise, many of the babies there are bald… at least the ones I saw at Dongmen. But so very cute, rosy chubby cheeks. 😉 Makes me think of having another one, until I saw another young chap snotting and spitting away.
We spent more time walking around Dongmen instead, and didn’t go to the Electronics mall. In fact, while at Dongmen, we stumbled upon the building which houses many wholesalers selling babies/kids stuff, mostly clothes of cheap quality (the kind that my mum buys from the market in Sgp for TJ to wear at home), cheap plastic toys, tricycles, strollers etc. Basically none of the “famous” brands, although I did see some Crocs there, but not sure if it’s really Crocs.
Anyway, I end up buying 2 pairs of shorts (home wear for TJ) for 9 yuan (S$2) each. There were other shorts/pants but reckon I would get those better looking ones from Mothercare instead.
The Shenzhen Book City is in a cavernous building which unfortunately seems to me, to be filled with lots of wasted space. The main book centre is really huge, and there are other smaller bookshops scattered around the building, but it seems to be quite a “dead” place. There were people definitely, but it doesn’t have the kinda feeling I get when I am in Borders or Kino. I think the huge space has something to do with it… and also the fact that Chinese books outnumbered English ones. I think there are only a few shelves and tables of English books, and the English magazines found in one of the smaller bookshops were outdated, dating as far back as Feb ’08. Gosh.
I thought I could get some Chinese books for TJ, but I think I would go back to the shop at Bras Brasah to get them instead the next time I go back to Sgp. D saw how “lost” I looked at the Book Centre, and it’s true. I guess, I just don’t know where to start looking. The kids section, to me, isn’t that great either, too many board books on how to count, how to recognise shapes etc. Too regimented and school-like.
We took the train back to HK via Lok Ma Chau instead of Lo Wu, and it was a good choice cos there were fewer people using LMC and we were able to get seats on the long train ride back to HK, and back home to our son. D and I both missed him very much that day, and each time we looked at our watches, we would talk about what he would be doing at that time. And both of us come to the conclusion that we can’t go on trips on our own ‘cos we would miss him terribly.
Shenzhen a third time? Not again unless it’s for a very good reason, which I think there will not be any.