One of the major things on our list of Things to Do Before Leaving Hong Kong was to visit our closest neighbouring country, Shenzhen. Like Hong Kong, it’s technically part of the Big Bro’ China – however, Shenzhen operates as an Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which basically means that it’s a glorified shopping mall. Now we’re not that into shopping by any stretch, mainly because we spend all our money on crazy missions rather than ‘stuff’, but the lure of a country a mere MTR ride away combined with the fact it would be ridiculous NOT to have visited in our years in Hong Kong led us to research what on earth else there might be to do there.
Mini golf was the first thing to be researched, alas, nigh on impossible to find. However, googling “mini golf in Shenzhen” led down another path – “a large miniature golf park – review of Shenzhen Window of the World”. A kitsch place with miniature replicas of well known places around the world…hey, if we can’t get to all the places, then bring ’em to us! Yussss, paydirt. Another quick google of our favourite travel buddy, food, took us straight to an attractively named area “Dongmen Food Street”. Hells yes.
The weeks left on our Asia mission ticking by rather quickly, we started trying to lock down a date. By happy coincidence Dan suddenly had a Saturday/Sunday weekend off from work (only took 2 years) and Dan’s brother was to turn 30 so we decided to coerce him into our harebrained scheme by gifting him a trip for his big day. First things first, to book a hotel. A lengthy Agoda search revealed the difficulty in booking for three adults in one room; however, perseverance and a Scrooge-like budget won out and an option was revealed – 3 beds, sweet! Baby stays free, sweet! Proximity to train and sights, sweet! Free services at a nearby sauna including drinks, fruits, dry/wet steam sauna, water jet massage, billiards, table tennis and films…hmm, starting to sound like a brothel but what the hell, sweet!
The happy day arrived and off to the MTR station we trotted. FYI, catching the MTR to Shenzhen is easy-peasey, cheap, and, if you do like we did and take the First Class carriage, supremely comfortable. We started our trip in the fashion of which we intended to continue, classy, relaxed and stress free.
Being Kiwis and, accordingly able to travel everywhere with ease, we opted for the visa on entry route, via Lo Wu station. It took around 10 minutes from go-to-wo, even allowing time for the almost disaster of Dan leaving his passport abandoned on a counter. Sheesh.
Arriving at our hotel we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a quite nice place, with three excellent stain-free (that we could see) beds. We dumped our stuff, taking off to find dinner at the food street and were pleasantly surprised by the city as we walked.
Only problem was that Olive was somewhat of a celebrity in Shenzhen and after about an hour started to lose her (usually incredible) tolerance for being fondled, adored and photographed by random strangers.
Accordingly, a clever plan was devised to allow us all to indulge in the must-do activities for the evening:
Stage one: H-J return to the hotel with Olive. Dan and Jon to continue exploring Dongmen, eat food, hit the arcade, general wander. Stage two: Dan to return to hotel to relieve H-J of Olive duty; Jon and H-J to go to a local bar for a celebratory birthday drink. Stage three: Jon to return to hotel to relieve Dan; Dan and H-J to hit the hotel spa. The next day was then to consist of visits to Dafen Art Village and the Window of the World theme park. Sorted.
Alas, we never were to see the Art Village or the Window of the World. Dan did eventually manage to get to the spa where we can confirm nothing too untoward happened. H-J promised never to drink again. And Jon was last seen at the club and hasn’t been seen since.